Many outdoor activities can be set up and organized within local neighborhoods without great cost (e.g. local parks or forests). Everything is possible: from the tree-climbing, hiking, treasure hunts … Don’t be afraid to be creative!
We catched fish, and talked, and we took a swim now and then to keep off sleepiness. It was kind of solemn, drifting down the big still river, laying on our backs looking up at the stars, and we didn’t ever feel like talking loud, and it warn’t often that we laughed, only a kind of low chuckle. We had mighty good weather, as a general thing, and nothing ever happened to us at all, that night, nor the next, nor the next. 1
Many programs, particularly for youth, make use of activities or outdoor adventure as a means of developing personal attributes such as self-esteem, confidence, responsibility and trust in a positive way, and building on individuals’ achievements and success to encourage further development.
This is a major role of sport and recreation in schools and youth clubs , but it has been shown that some young people do not respond to the competitive and over-organized way in which many sports and activities are presented. Such individuals do not respect the rules per se and prefer to establish their own parameters of behavior.
Risk-taking is likely to appeal more to these types of youngsters and it is for this reason that challenging outdoor programs are likely to appeal more to the non-conforming individuals than organized, formal sports in school. 2
Many such activities can be set up and organized within local neighborhoods without great cost (e.g. local parks or forests).
These activities should increase youngster’s self-understanding and develop such
- personal competencies as self-sufficiency,
- self-respect and
In the same way, the need for youth to feel that they are in control of their actions is important. The feeling that success is the result of your effort and that your destiny is largely under your control is central to a feeling of autonomy. Communication between leaders and the group should be by negotiation whenever possible, although it should be well understood that at times where the safety of group or individuals is threatened then direction should obviously be heeded.
The needs and safety of the group cannot be overlooked. An environment which allows a young person to become aware of their own worth will also allow them to learn about the needs and abilities of others. Such a setting will also illustrate that individual goals and safety can often only be achieved through cooperation as opposed to competition.
The activity should demonstrate human interdependence and shared tasks and stimulate group to feel a commitment. This can take many forms such as
- tree climbing,
- camping and
- caring for animals.
Professionals have found that these healthy pursuits have many benefits. The activities are a physical and mental challenge. They help promote leadership skills in many youngsters. They allow them to make firm friendships which can continue long after the school, or activity is over. And they teach new skills and foster self-esteem. Cooking in the woods, taking responsibility for the safety of others and respect for nature are just some of the benefits gained by the youth in these activities.
- Mark Twain, The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn
- Field, S., M. Kuczera and B. Pont (2007), No More Failures: Ten Steps to Equity in Education, Education and Training Policy, OECD, Paris