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Impact of Outdoor Learning

Impact of Outdoor Learning

Dave Harvey, Head of Residential Provision at Brathay Trust, Ambleside

One of my key outdoor learning experiences didn't happen outside. I fact, it was in the theatre and I was 8 years old, taken to see Chris Bonnington lecturing about his Everest south west face expedition. I can remember the pictures of the mountains, the snow and climbers and thinking, wow, I want to do that. As we weren't a family that did outdoor pursuits, it wasn't until I got the chance to do my bronze Duke of Edinburgh's award that this dream started to be realised. The expedition was just the business: the kit, navigating, camping, being on what seemed at the time like an epic journey. That experience led on to the rest of the DofE and then trips further afield to the Alps and eventually - although not quite Everest - trekking In Nepal and canoe expeditions abroad.  Doing stuff in the outdoors has become a way of life.

There is another parallel strand to this personal connection to the outdoors, which is my career. Arguably, it started with the  DofE, as for my Gold service I and a couple of others helped with the award scheme leadership, teaching Bronze students the rudiments of navigation and assisting on their expeditions. After a brief and confused period where I thought I might become an engineer, I eventually realised that teaching, especially involving the outdoors, was actually what I wanted to do, and I feel very fortunate that the outdoors (and outdoor learning) is such a big part of my life.

Personal motivation plays a significant part in where we go and what we do, but there are other key factors.  In my case, one of those was the amount of time that a particular teacher gave voluntarily to run the DofE scheme in school. We all recognised his commitment at the time, and I have never forgotten the impact that that had. Those initial experiences have shaped my values, my personal life and my career. 

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