Outdoor Education

Just reading a great article on outdoor ed theory and young people.

“It is impossible to care for each other more differently than we care for the earth. There is an uncanny resemblance between our behaviour towards each other and our behaviour towards the earth” Hildegarde von Bingen

Nice quote.

(Hogan, 1992) reviewed a number of studies to argue for wilderness programmes to incorporate an environmental philosophy. The traditional adventure education approach of using the wilderness environment as “playing field” is no longer appropriate and wilderness as “sacred space” is more apt.

One Story – I was standing in the rain, nothing to unusual about that except it was 5.30 am the rain was coming in side ways being driven by gale force winds and the group of TAFE students and I where at 2000m above sea level , and just about to start skiing off into the blackness into the dark night. “I shouted into Ben’s ear have you taken a compass bearing?” “No, I forgot” Ben shouted “then I reckon you had better unforget!” I shouted back into his ear. This six day traverse across Australia’s highest peaks was one of adverse conditions, lost at 2000m on Mt Twynam in a white out is never a good experience, having a student’s snow cave collapse in the early hours due to rain sodden snow becoming excessively heavy and collapsing, and now back in the moment skiing off into the dark in a rain storm. When we reached the road at Dead Horse Gap, Ben (a young man of about 23, not one of my best students, never really excelled in much and never did more then was required and was still an adolescent really in how he viewed the world) turns to the group in the debrief and states:

“that was hard, no that was the fucking hardest thing I have ever done in my life. I have learnt more about myself in this trip then all the previous trips in the last two years, I will never forget this trip”

And how is this for a way to finish a great speech –

The value of expeditions? A young women from WA, writes on the last day of a 15 day ski tour across the Victoria Alps:

“I am twenty years old, its 1995 and apparently I belong to a failing generation, and it shows. I am a woman, I am unemployed. I am a registered drug user and an ex heroin addict. I have experienced homelessness, depression and hunger. I am a statistic list, and so are all my friends. I am still alive! I am fit and healthy and I can climb down the highest peak in Victoria in one day. I can pitch a tent when it’s minus seven degrees and snowing. I can traverse along the edge of a mountain, the snow’s turned icy and I’ve got my food, clothing and home on my back. I can’t see where I’m going and I can’t see where I’ve been, there’s nothing unusual about that, except for the cause, this time it’s because I’m about two hundred metres from the summit of Mt Bogong, the left side of my body is caked with snow and there’s a white out. If you have been labelled a ‘youth at risk’ then you might remind me of a girl I think I used to know.”

The article was given to me by Casey Ellery and outdoor ed specialist himself!
In fact the article is a speech I believe –

PLENARY SPEECH PRESENTED TO THE OUTDOORS WESTERN AUSTRALIA STATE CONFERENCE, 11TH December 2006.

“THE VALUE OF EXPEDITIONS”

by Pete Holmes, Senior Manager, The Outdoor Education Group (OEG), Victoria

If you are into outdoor stuff, this is gold!

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