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The weather Gods were kind in the sunny south on the 18 February, as over 60 outdoor practitioners headed to the High Ashurst centre for the Annual Regional Conference.
The day started with a key note presentation from the IOL CEO Andy Robinson, who visited how he and others got into the outdoors and challenged delegates think about their practice, what outdoor learning can really achieve and how the benefits can be evidenced and presented to enable maximum participation from all walks of society.
Delegates then participated in three workshops through the rest of the day, selecting from a wide programme that provided a balance of theory and practice, indoors or outdoors locations and activity or nature focussed opportunities. There were bushcraft sessions with fire lighting and nettle tea drinking, sensory nature games and even the option for some tree hugging! An opportunity to discuss the ‘state of the nation’ and where the outdoors does, could and should fit in a modern society, and crystal ball gazing as to what the sector may look like in the future and how to prepare for it. Sessions on the theory and practice of providing adventure for all, and consideration of how to bring back some creativity into the outdoors challenged peoples practice and opened up opportunities to think differently and try new things. Some theory was on offer in the form of biomimicry, or practical activity considering the black art of navigation, or on the high ropes or challenge courses looking at how different providers operate and how we can move from activity to education and taking the benefits to all sections of our society along with an opportunity to find out more about RPIOL, APIOL provided practitioners with the opportunity to focus their day to suit their needs.
Over an excellent lunch there were great networking opportunities to catch up with friends old and new, discuss the things that are happening in our world or have a look round the centre. The busy programme meant delegates left excited, exhausted and ready for the summer season with new energy. The committee would like to thank all delegates for coming along, and of course all the workshop presenters how made it such a good day. If anyone would like to provide further feedback on the day or suggest activities for the region over the next year please drop me an email.
Here are some photos of the day......
Southern Region Conference 21/2/13 - 'Back to Nature - Beyond Activities!'
A brief Southern Region Conference report
On a freezing February day the IOL Southern Region Conference went ahead at the Bowles Activity Centre near Tunbridge Wells with nearly 60 attendees. Delegates were welcomed with bacon butties and a hot drink, before an inspirational keynote address from Geoff MacMullen, who set the scene for the conference titled 'Back to Nature' with his experiences and the inspiration that Nature and particularly birds have given him throughout his life.
The region and national AGMs, with attendance from John Crosbie and Andy Robinson, took place before members attended a range of sessions on natural awareness, creative orienteering, kayak rolling (in the indoor pool fortunately!) and national updates. Sustenance was provided in the form of an excellent buffet lunch that gave the opportunity for networking, including the opportunity to find out more about IOL Professional development awards from Jo Mcready Wessex Region PDC who made a guest visit. The afternoon continued with sessions on climbing in nature on Bowles own sandstone rocks, tracking a concentric ring and session on the 'what if ...' of scenarios we hope will never happen.
The day finished with sessions on expeditioning with a purpose, survival skills and natural music before a well deserved hot drink and safe journey home.
On behalf of the Region Committee I would like to thank Sarah Collings and all the staff at Bowles for hosting the conference, all the people who led sessions, John and Andy for making the journey from Cumbria to join us and all the members who attended.
The Region AGM was marked with Mike King standing down as Chair after a number of years to concentrate on his work as Trustee of IOL and his own business - Thanks for all your work in the region over the years Mike and good luck on your new ventures, but we wont let you go too far.
Ian Harris on behalf of the region committee.
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