Adventure Education in Nature

Working with the children from my previous post, Wednesday morning was spent orienteering. The most memorable bits were: two girls learning to encourage a boy with a low attention span to engage in the task, me being humbled by map orientation without a compass – I was about 20 degrees out, and chatting with the teacher about opportunities for nature connection and teamwork in an indoor and individualistic education system. Is one week in five years enough?

Wednesday afternoon was spent climbing a 10 meter wobbly pole and standing four team members at a time on the top, followed by another climbing challenge up Jacob’s Ladder – horizontal logs that get further and further apart. Teamwork, trust, encouragement, attentiveness, managing fear, keeping calm, pushing out of the comfort zone and accepting failure were on the menu for most. It was a good day, followed by more night walks and team games while I took a well-earned evening off.

Thursday morning was spent on the low ropes challenge course, where it was a joy to see the children progress from individuals and pairs into a cohesive, supportive and successful team. This was followed by the muddy obstacle course, where the recent teamwork and encouragement was in full flow on the high wall and much fun was had clambering over logs, crawling under nets and wriggling through tubes.

Reaching the end of the childrens’ stay, we took a few minutes to review the highs, the lows, the lessons and the memories. It was such a pleasure and a privilege to work with these children and play a small part in their education. It made me think how our education system seems so focused on performance over process, individual over team and work over enjoyment. What would we be like if we all had the opportunity for adventure education in nature for one day in five? I wonder…

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