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!

Leavers 06

I did a few days helping out at the Leavers Zone at Dunsborough Lakes Caravan Park. This in my mind failed last year, but was an amazing success this year. 2-3000 kids crammed in the zone and took place in a great range of activities. This was not with the Red Frog Crew (Leavers Chaplaincy) it was with the community volunteer group. Basically we are there to serve the local community in any way they see fit, we work alongside police, YFC (we mainly with them), security, Ambulance crew, drug arm, whoever needs a hand making it all work. I helped out on the climbing wall, the toilets and in what was called “the sauna” which was the rave tent. The Beat Collective are a Uni based group of DJ’s that mix well and put on a great show, it was called the sauna because the tent it was in created its own cloud from the sweat in there, it was like a sauna!
Everyone was well behaved (this is a relative statement!! Well behaved compared to Bravehearts men during one of those battle scenes!) Seriously considering these are teenage, horny, drunken, stoned schoolies…they did well!
It was another world down there.
The days (after we woke up) were filled with great conversations about youth ministry as we were actually doing a 3 day ACOM/Youth Vision facilitation, so we dialoged stuff, ate good food, swam in the dam at Fongville and ate more good food, drank some coffee (Thanks for bringing the roaster down Matty B!), read some good books and went back to the Leavers Zone to clean vomit…all good fun 🙂
I guess leavers is the closest thing our culture provides teens as a rite of passage. Not ideal, but I think we have an inbuilt need to identify a passing from one live stage into another. Our culture does not know how to do this for our young people, our churches do not know how to do this for our young people, so they invent their own passing cerimonies that involve drinking, sex and all living together for a week or so.
There are glimpses of other ways of doing this appearing around the place. Richard Rohr spoke of some of this when he was in Perth last week, he is running rites of passage retreats all over the world now, I think I will become part of creating healthier ways for people, particularly guys to move into manhood. I have no sons, but I have mates who have sons who I can stand with as their boys move to manhood. And I want to help my girls do this well also.

Post Colonial Youth Ministry

“When the Missionaries arrived, the Africans had the Land and the Missionaries had the Bible. They taught how to pray with our eyes closed. When we opened them, they had the land and we had the Bible”.
Jomo Kenyatta

The article “Post Colonial Youth Ministry” also went on to say –

In words: The gospel preached to the school students “you are sinners, you are going to hell, you need to be saved and forgiven for your sins, and we will show you how”

In deeds: “We will remove you from your culture, take up the rest of your free time, introduce you to new friends because your old ones aren’t good enough and spend the next few years indoctrinating you.”

This is from an interesting article sent to me recently found here.

Off To The Gold Coast in 2007

Yes, I remember the days when Mike Yacconelli and Duffy Robbins would come to the gold coast and fire up all the Youth Workers in Australia. I remember the spa, the tennis courts, the networking, the fun, the bus trips, the new friends (and potential life partners!!) we discovered, I remember the passion to see kids lives changed, to see Jesus become a reality for people.
Well, reflect no more!!

It’s happening again! (Not the Mike Yaconelli bit sorry!)
Sept 2007…start saving, start shaing the vision with your youth leadership teams and your church eldership/pastors (as I recommend that they help your team get over to the Gold Coast).

See all the details here.

More Quotes…It Gets Better!

Youth Ministries that are carried along by the current of entertainment will treat their youth as consumers, and the leaders will do everything they can to keep their customers happy. This fact may explain why the majority of churched teenagers cannot name the four Gospels and do not even know why Christians celebrate Easter. Learning the basic of the Christian life take discipline and work (the very demands that just might keep youth away!)
Mark DeVries

Great Quote on Youth Ministry

I don’t know of any youth ministry that can, week in and week out, ever be as entertaining as a 100 million dollar movie. Compared to most options young people have for entertainment, lets face it, we don’t have a chance. If we train our young people to expect entertainment from us, we can be assured that when things get a little slow, they will be switching channels to somebody else’s show.
Entertainment centred programmes provide an artificial intimacy, like a crowd at a concert, without the joys or frustrations of real relationship. When attracting teens through exciting programmes becomes the goal of a youth ministry, we teach the Christian life will always be a party. I wonder – have those of us in professional ministry been accomplices in raising a generation of Christian teenagers who some refer to as “God’s little brats”? I have to believe a generation that grows up believing that they should never be bored, never be uncomfortable, never have to do without will be severely limited in the transforming impact that they can have on the world.

Mark DeVries in family based Youth Ministry (email me for full book summary)