There is a Scottish bill being proposed that would ensure that all young people have the opportunity to experience residential outdoor education. If this gets passed, every 12 to 16 year old pupil will be guaranteed a week long outdoor education residential experience.
Most people I know who work in the outdoor industry benefited from an outdoor education programme early in their careers. Most went on outdoor education residential trips, and many worked in outdoor education for a time. I was lucky enough to do both. As a child being brought up in Somerset I went on a residential trip to Charterhouse Outdoor Education Centre in the Mendips in Somerset. Even now, getting on for forty years later, I remember some of the things we did. Before I set up Abacus Mountain Guides I worked at Outward Bound Locheil for two years, specifically to gain the skills and experience that I knew I would need to work as a mountain guide. Right now, my daughter is on a school outdoor education residential trip and I am sure the experience will remain with her for decades to come.
Not every young person gets this opportunity. This bill would change this around completely, making it law that every young person would get the opportunity to go on a week long residential trip. In doing so, outdoor activities would be introduced to every child in Scotland. Once children have received a high quality experience in the outdoors, they are far more likely to return to it in later life, meaning they will be far more likely to live active, healthy lifestyles. They will also make connections with the landscape, the outdoor environment and nature, something that is crucial to tackle the climate emergency.
There are many barriers to participation in outdoor activities, financial, cultural and geographical, but the benefits to participation are wide-ranging and profound. This bill would cut through these barriers and introduce the outdoors to everyone growing up in Scotland.
I fully support this proposal, and if you would like to contribute to the consultation you can do so here.
Adventurous new experiences in the outdoors develop young people with a lifelong connection and concern for the natural environment, self-esteem, self reliance, confidence, resilience and an understanding of how to deal with new challenges and manage risk. It also helps young people to know what it means to be part of a team, to learn leadership skills and the importance of valuing friendship.
The evidence about these benefits of residential outdoor education is both widespread and compelling, and, in the age of COVID-19, when there is growing national concern about young people’s health and lifestyles and the fact that many children from some of the more deprived areas do not get the same opportunities as their counterparts elsewhere, residential outdoor education should be a key part of the curriculum.
Thanks Mike for making me aware of the proposed changes to the law regarding provision of a week of outdoor education for students in Scotland. When placed against the ever increasing demands on education budgets I wonder how you can justify spending money on this rather than improving teacher:student ratio’s, increasing the presence of teaching assistants, adequate maintenance of school buildings or wider provision of healthy school meals and snacks to all etc etc. You describe the benefits very eloquently and as someone who also loves the outdoors I agree with you, but do they come with the evidence to support such claims? I would be really interested to know more about the proposal and what research has been offered to support this. Please let me know if you have any links for further information. Thanks again for highlighting this important area.
Hi Jeremy, you are absolutely right, there are big shortfalls in our education system at the moment. My wife, Louise, is a pupil support assistant at our local high school, so I am very aware of the understaffing and other challenges.
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Self reliance is a fundamental principle of mountaineering. By participating we accept this and take responsibility for the decisions we make. These blog posts and conditions reports are intended to help you make good decisions. They do not remove the need for you to make your own judgements when out in the hills.