From the Blog

Outdoor Education: The Experience of a Lifetime

The world is wide open to today’s youth. They have resources that we could barely imagine growing up.

YMCA CAMP BERNIE

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Their thoughts are limited only by the results of a search engine. Therefore as educators we must go above & beyond our predecessors to keep students interested & prevent them from becoming jaded. We must find exciting education opportunities that will challenge their learning in new ways and force them out of their technologically protected shells. We want them to be successful on more than their video game scores. And on top of all this, we have the unique 21stcentury challenge of keeping our students healthy in both mind and body. With these lofty goals in mind, I present a short list of reasons that the results you are looking for will be obtained through Outdoor Education.

 

Top Ten Benefits of Outdoor Education

 

10. Providing opportunities for play & physical activity. How devastating is the epidemic of obesity in our country, especially in young people? How desperately do we want to see students unplug from their technological devices, get outside, and exercise? Outdoor Education provides a solution for those unhealthy indoor habits that have led to the distressing health problems that our youth now face. 

 

9. Relating with different learning styles. Although Outdoor Education can provide opportunities for all styles of learners, it is even more positive for those students who may find challenges in the traditional classroom environment. It is much more hands on than typically found in classrooms – instead of reading about the natural world, students are sampling macro invertebrates in a stream, searching for animal tracks in a forest, and acting out town meetings to understand how land use decisions are made.

 

8. Breaking down social structures to make positive peer connections. Through many adventure based activities like low ropes obstacle courses and high ropes zip lines, Outdoor Education provides opportunities for getting students of all ages outside their comfort zones. There are powerful interpersonal connections that can be made when you must trust others with your physical and emotional well-being. These connections create a framework for new social structures that promote understanding and tolerance. 

 

7. Building confidence & independence. Much of the positive feedback that we get from students at our own Outdoor Education Center as to the best part about their excursion is that they were able to try something they had never done before. Through providing opportunities for students to try new things, like rock climbing or building a wilderness survival shelter, Outdoor Education encourages personal growth and confidence in new found skills & interests.

 

6. Encouraging appropriate risk taking. There are many ways that the natural instinct for thrill seeking can manifest itself in youth. Unfortunately many of those are negative, such as joining a gang or drug experimentation. Outdoor Education channels adrenaline seeking behavior in a positive way. It provides opportunities for youth to step outside their comfort level in safe, calculated ways, such as crossing a wobbly open-plank wooden bridge 35 feet in the air with the appropriate safety gear.

 

5. Introducing resiliency and creativity. As educators, we do not want a body of students that grow up content to do things the same way as their peers; we want to foster learners that think outside the box and solve problems in new ways. We also want to cultivate determination, where youth learn to persevere through difficulties and try multiple solutions until they can solve their issues. Through teambuilding activities, Outdoor Education presents challenges to students that can only be solved through imaginative trail & error.

 

4. Conquering fears. By providing access to a special set of challenge activities that cannot be found in educational settings elsewhere, Outdoor Education pushes participants to face their fears. Conquering a fear of heights through high ropes activities like a giant swing, where one is pulled 35 feet into the air only to have to let go of the mechanism which holds them there to experience the arc of the swing, opens the door to a powerful feeling of success that participants remember in the face of other life challenges.

 

3. Developing future stewards of nature. Research shows that people who care about environmental issues as adults had a positive experience in the out-of-doors as children. We have a responsibility to provide those extraordinary experiences in nature to ensure that the problems to which we & our ancestors contributed, such as climate change, pollution, loss of biodiversity, and waste disposal, our children may solve.

 

2. Learning social skills. Outdoor Education not only gets students outside to learn, but provides them with precious face time with other youth. There are no individual assignments where students must find the answer through an internet search. There are actually no cell phones allowed during activity time. Students not only unplug, they also learn the skills required for working together with other people, whether on a ropes course or in the field, presented to them in ways that feel like play.

 

1. Creating leaders. Outdoor Education centers hire positive role models that will influence youth to develop leadership skills through distinctive challenges. All the activities encourage the students to think critically & promote the main idea that every person adds value to the team in their own unique way. By providing learning experiences in subject matter not found in typical classrooms, Outdoor Education cultivates leadership from those who may struggle in school and build up that exceptional sense of individual and long lasting self-worth. 



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Youth Leadership Weekend

March 10-11, 2018

 

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