Summer Adventures are back!
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Summer Adventures are back!

David Exeter, Head of Centre at Outward Bound Loch Eil

It has been easy to feel hopeless when faced with another article about the impact the pandemic is having on young people. But today I bring great news. After 665 long, dark days… SUMMER is back at Outward Bound...

After an unprecedented 22 months we’ve just welcomed young people back to our centres for a summer adventure programme. A summer adventure at Outward Bound is the chance for young people from across the UK (and usually the world) to come together for a week or three of learning, adventure and self-discovery. And we are thrilled to have them back. Last summer Covid-19 brought our normal ways of working to a halt, played havoc with our programme of events and, above all, compromised our ability to positively impact the lives of thousands of young people.

After a winter lockdown, a second round of school closures and prolonged isolation from friends, young people are struggling more than ever before. They’ve found it significantly harder to readjust to being back at school and emotional and behavioural issues have risen. Mental health complaints have also soared, with anxiety levels increasing across all ages.

Since Easter our instructors have been working with young people all across the UK in their school grounds. These day programmes have allowed us to work with 14,000 young people this year. But at our core, we know that we can achieve a much deeper and long-lasting impact through a residential course, and that these have the potential to significantly accelerate young people’s recovery from the effects of the pandemic.

Our 2021 summer adventures aren't the same as pre-pandemic. Guidelines mean we have to operate differently. Instead of dorms scattered with the clothing of six excited young people, there will be just one young person per room. And group sizes of five (plus Outward Bound instructor) instead of the usual 12. Our instructors are the best in the business. They’re qualified to lead outdoor adventures and facilitate personalised learning, and they’ve undertaken hours of staff training to prepare for their return to working with young people. The environment of challenge and support that they create is engaging, helping young people to push themselves and to learn from their mistakes.

We’re cautious because things can change rapidly, but we know our programmes are safe and within all current guidelines. The return of summer adventures brings an opportunity for young people to reconnect with each other, to recharge after a year of disappointment, fear and anxiety, and to rebuild skills that will help them navigate an increasingly uncertain future. Everyone I speak to agrees that the values that Outward Bound instil go to the very heart of what is needed for young people right now.

This is great news. But it’s the tip of the iceberg. We’ve had to turn many young people away this summer because restrictions mean our centres can’t operate to full capacity. Demand for 2022 is immense. If you’re tired of feeling hopeless reading articles like this… now is the time to feel hopeful! Make a donation. Pay it forward. Help a young person have a summer adventure that will change their lives. Know you're making a difference.

Guidelines permitting, school residentials will also be back from the autumn term. I’ll leave you with the words of Ms McFarlane from St. Paul’s Academy, Dundee, celebrating all we can achieve in partnership for young people:

Having spent months in lockdown, seeing young people outdoors, away from their normal environment with that sense of adventure and making new friends - that’s life-changing and the impact should never be underestimated.

Book your 2022 summer adventure

Our adventures are for 10-22 year olds and there is something for everyone - whether you're looking for a first wilderness experience to an epic 19-day adventure where every night is spent under canvas.

Make a donation

Would you gift a summer adventure to a young person? Over 80% of young people who come to Outward Bound need some financial help to fund their place. We don't think lack of money should mean some young people miss out. There are already enough inequalities in this world.