Outdoor education is, by definition, experiential learning while in the outdoors. It’s a broad term that could encompass many organized activities that were meant to be instructional while conducted in an outdoor environment. The type of activities can vary depending on a place’s culture, local condition, purpose, and the philosophy of the organization using outdoor education activities, exercises and games.
What’s the value of outdoor education?
Outdoor education activities, exercises and games have a diverse set of purpose, depending on the philosophy of the organization using it. However, there do share some common puposes, including but not limited to the following:
1. Enhancing social development – Outdoor education was not primarily designed to be individualistic. It’s more geared towards helping other students get along well with each other through activities that promote teamwork, develop communication skills, and more.
2. Overcome adversity – There are a lot of challenges outdoors, and children who participate in outdoor educational activities are encouraged to find ways to surmount any adversities that they encounter. Putting them in situations where they need to communicate and work with other children in order to complete a goal also helps them to discover positive ways on how to express frustration, negotiate a solution, and be outspoken with their ideas.
3. Reduce recidivism – Troubled or struggling teens are less likely to be repeat offenders when they are involved in outdoor education activities, exercises and games. More of their energies are spent on wholesome and healthy activities. Not to mention that nature in itself is a very therapeutic element. It encourages young people to be introspective and positive. The fact that nature is therapeutic is also what makes outdoor therapy, a type of outdoor education, quite successful.
4. Cultivate a love for nature – Children who cultivate a love for nature early will be more likely to make healthier and more wholesome life choices, they usually have a deeper sense of spirituality, and are better adjusted and self-assured individuals. Outdoor education helps promote a love and respect for nature. Especially for residential outdoor education activities where children get the chance to live outdoors for a short time.
5. Develop leadership skills – Outdoor education presents children with more opportunities to discover and practice leadership skills through varied activities.
6. Promote personal responsibility – During outdoor educational activities, exercises and games, children learn fast that there are things they should be doing for themselves rather than waiting for others to do it for them. They learn to pick up after themselves, attend to some of their basic needs, and more. Once children have gained a healthy amount of personal responsibility, it’s not impossible for them to be able to learn how to be considerate to others as well.
For struggling teens, it would be helpful to look into therapy options that include outdoor therapy. Think of it as a great way to address the physiological and therapeutic needs of your child at the same time. It’s important to take the time to learn if the program is licensed and accredited by the proper accrediting bodies, as well as the kind of outdoor activities and safety precautions that they have.