Just how important is it for kids to get into the outdoors?
Trail editor Matt Swaine recently spent a day out with Ullswater Outward Bound in the Lake District to find out.
Who were the kids on this course?
They were a group from Nottingham who got the chance to attend thanks to their local Rotarian group and specifically the hard work of a chap called Howard Baker who attended an Outward Bound course himself back in the early 60s.
Without the encouragement and financial assistance that people like Howard offer it is unlikely that these young people would get the opportunity to challenge themselves in the outdoors.
Are there any other sources of funding?
The Outward Bound also runs a bursary scheme of its own. It raises money to give financial help to young people who otherwise couldn�t pay for their course, In order to do that, they rely upon the support of individuals and companies who�ve supported them.
What did you do during the day?
We spent the morning at a crag doing some relatively easy single pitch climbs. The instructor Justin Hale emphasised the skills that they would be using: team work, confidence and trust and then they got on with it. There were a couple of slips and you could see those qualities coming into play when the climbers realised that the belayer really was there to keep them safe.
What were their attitudes to the outdoors?
The previous day they�d returned from an expedition, which involved kayaking across Ullswater and then camping out for the night. The return journey had obviously been really challenging and while they perhaps didn�t enjoy struggling across the lake in bad weather, they all loved talking about their adventure. There was a definite sense of achievement and having worked together to meet their goal.
So what�s so important about getting kids outdoors?
I asked that question to Simon Waring the general manager of Ullswater Outward Bound and he said that it was because in the outdoors you experience more. He said that The Outward Bound believed in doing things that weren�t comfortable. And that in the outdoors your actions have a direct consequence on your comfort so that was what made it such a potent learning environment.
What else did you do during the day?
In the afternoon our group headed to a zip wire, which involved climbing a wire ladder and dealing with a pretty exposed slide. It was definitely fun. The other group headed to the shore of the lake and started building rafts in small teams: less adrenaline but a real test of team work.
So what did you feel these kids came away with?
These are memories that will stay with these young people throughout their adult life. Talking to Howard Baker it was clear that his memories of climbing on Shepherds Crag back in the 60s were still incredibly vivid. The Outward Bound believes that everyone should be able to have life-changing experiences in the outdoors. Its courses for young people are designed to develop self-confidence, teamwork and personal skills. Howard keeps bringing groups back because he sees the positive impact these courses have on young people�s lives.
CLICK HERE to watch two short videos introducing you to the Outward Bound Trust and telling you a bit about its history