Chief executive of The Outward Bound Trust, Martin Davidson, on why they’ve launched the Let Us Out campaign for residentials.
It’s a reasonable question and something we rubbed up against when developing our Let Us Out campaign. The Outdoor Education Bills and the idea of an outdoor residential for every young person seems like an obvious thing for Outward Bound to support, but why?
It’s not because we’re against the indoors – classrooms are not the villains here. In fact, if you asked me to spend all my time outside, I would be hard-pressed to say yes. Besides, the great indoors also has its uses on an Outward Bound course. It’s warm, dry and an excellent place to plot adventures, fuel up before a day’s activities, and get some rest before a long expedition. We also use our indoor review rooms to reflect on all the learning out in the wild.
A night away from home, your comfort zone, and the stress and routine of everyday life can have a profound impact on a young person’s life.
So, what exactly are we fighting against?
What about social media, video games and smartphones? What about endless scrolling and the constant notifications that young people face every day? What about the rise in absenteeism, online bullying, comparison culture, anxiety or that creeping sense of loneliness?
I have no doubt many of you will have encountered these things in your classrooms, as have many of our instructors in the field. The sad reality is that these issues are now all too common and something decision-makers must face up to.
Let Us Out is our response, it may not be a silver bullet but we firmly believe outdoor education has a greater role to play in the solution. This campaign is so much bigger than us, it is a collective fight for our children’s future – a future where outdoor residentials are part of the curriculum and young people leave formal education feeling more capable, curious and resilient – ready for the challenges of life.
Representing School Travel Organiser at Westminster
STO editor Keeley Rodgers attended an event at Parliament on Tuesday 5th December organised by The Outward Bound Trust.
It was attended by teachers, students and people from various providers and organisations.
All with a common theme - to support the campaign and raise awareness of the difference outdoor residentials make to the young people involved.
The England Bill has been proposed by Tim Farron MP for Westmorland and Lonsdale, the Scotland Bill by Liz Smith, MSP Scottish Conservative for Mid Scotland and Fife and the Wales Bill by Sam Rowlands, West Conservative for North Wales.
The world is changing, and our curriculum should reflect that. Evidence is mounting that the problems I referenced above are very much real. But if we expose our young people to more challenge, adventure and nature we can give them more than just a fighting chance.
If subjects like maths, English, science and the arts are considered essential for developing young people why not outdoor play, residentials and learning outside the classroom?
Too many young people are missing out on these experiences and that’s not right. A night away from home, your comfort zone, and the stress and routine of everyday life can have a profound impact on a young person’s life. Imagine what we can achieve if every young person is guaranteed that experience during their education.
Let Us Out is about making that happen and letting our young people thrive.
To find out more about the Let Us Out campaign and the Outdoor Education Bills head to www.outwardbound.org.uk/letusout