From South to North: An Adventurous Journey
Many young people are drawn to the idea of an outdoor adventure when given the chance. The opportunity to do something on the frontier of adventure education can be scarce and highly challenging. Chris Lucas, Head of Outdoor Learning at Newquay Tretherras Academy, Cornwall, tells us why it is so important to offer these experiences.
I love the outdoors and adventure, I’ve been lucky to be able to turn my passion for it into a career. For the last 7 years, I have been developing a programme at Newquay Tretherras that dovetails outdoor learning with the core curriculum. As an example, this means our students might be reading poetry in the woods, experiencing the feelings a connection with nature provides, supporting their work within the classroom
Cornwall is a holiday destination, but also one of the most economically deprived counties in the U.K. This means that many of our students have never ventured outside their area and are unfamiliar with the joy and challenges of different landscapes. This is an added bonus to travelling the 650 miles to Scotland to find snowy mountains as the students get to travel through much of the UK on the way!
It’s a tough, highly adventurous mountaineering course, attracting those students with some outdoor adventure experience. The students gain a huge sense of confidence from the experience - they learn that if you can navigate in the middle of the night on the top of the Cairngorms plateau then sleep out in a snow hole, then not much will faze you – it’s a really truly empowering experience, for some, a life-changing one.
After we arrive at Loch Eil, and get kitted up, the following morning begins with a 6am jog and dip in the loch. Being Newquay kids, they jump into the water with no hesitation, even though it’s still dark. But the course really starts when we get up on the hill, sliding around with ice-axes and learning mountain skills. The following day is the expedition itself, which includes digging snow holes and sleeping out under the stars. Sunday finishes with a review and certificates, culminating in a meal at the base of Ben Nevis to celebrate the achievements of the group together - awe inspiring. And the return journey to Newquay is where we really embed the learning in regular review sessions.
The benefits of this course are hard to describe, but I know that the young people gain a huge amount, physically, cognitively and emotionally. Trusting each other and their teachers is a huge part of it, and the bonds they make in their friendship groups are incalculable. I’ve kept in touch with students after they’ve left school and it’s not a platitude to say it has changed the course of their lives - enabling them to decide to do something they previously didn’t think possible.
To find out how The Outward Bound Trust can help develop your young people, check out our education courses page or contact us on 01931 740 000.
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