I am fortunate to have been involved in outdoor education in some capacity throughout my life, as a guide, teacher, educational visits/trips coordinator and pastoral deputy head.
My experience in Kenya was incredibly enriching and gave me a much deeper understanding of our interactions with the environment and other cultures. Returning to the UK and reflecting on these experiences has brought me to realise that we are in unprecedented times.
I am a longstanding advocate and promotor of quality outdoor education. For many children, especially in the UK, it is their first taste of nature and the great outdoors and provides them that vital opportunity to step out of their comfort zone and experience challenge, failure and ultimately success in a safe and regulated environment. For children who have already had exposure to the outdoors it may offer the chance to develop leadership skills and further enhance their problem-solving skills. And let us not forget that outdoor education is fun!
I am delighted that my Year 7 daughter is heading off to the Lake District this week for just such an experience. However, approximately 240 children are heading off to the Lakes, each is taking their own packed lunch for the journey and they travel in a convoy of coaches. I do not want to dampen any spirits and I am hugely grateful for the extra time and effort that my daughter’s excellent team of teachers are giving, but, a couple of questions to ponder…How do we reduce the carbon footprint from this trip? How many of those 240 children will pack a lunch that contains multiple pieces of unrecyclable packaging and single use plastic? Whilst enjoying the water sports and countryside what will the children give back to the environment and local community?
Globally, we are teetering on the edge of ecological disaster. Outdoor education should be one of our most valuable tools to help repair some of this damage. We must do more than expose our children to nature and teach them to enjoy it. We must instill a huge sense of respect and a mindset of giving back and improving. The practicalities of this in Kenya and The Lake District will look a little different but the principle holds true. Exceptional outdoor education gives us a chance to do more than campaign for change or complain about the state of our planet. It gives us a chance to do something real and meaningful.
RVA are at the forefront of this way of thinking and operating and I am very excited to be working with them. If you are UK based and are interested in taking your outdoor education provision to the next level, get in touch and I would be delighted to explain more…
Mike Peck, RVA Education Advisor