Young people at Hindleap Warren

12 July 2018

In my 50 years of involvement in outdoor education – 41 of those professionally – I have seen and experienced many amazing things. Having gained this experience I have come to realise a number of very simple facts.

  1. People like to achieve success and in doing so they have great fun.

  2. People like to overcome and solve problems on their own and as part of a team.

  3. Achieving success and overcoming problems is a transferable skill, improved with practice and the growth of self-confidence.

  4. Being in an outdoor environment by its very nature contributes to people’s wellbeing and positive state of mind.

  5. In a nutshell people like – and even need – appropriate adventures in their lives.

However, I also realise that normal life does not always provide these opportunities. Some people have already decided that in normal life they aren’t good at these things. Faced with this mind-set, many people would rather not take a risk as it means they risk failure. This is, of course, a self-fulfilling prophecy and it removes any chance of success.

The power of good quality outdoor education, delivered by enthusiastic and skilled instructors who create a safe environment, is incredibly important. With this in place it ensures that students feel:

  1. The natural environment is non-judgmental, unlike my peer group can be.

  2. The anxieties and fears I have in my day-to-day life can be challenged in this new environment because I am the only person able to measure my success or criticise my performance and consequently if I try I cannot fail.

  3. I cannot do this thing just by myself; I need other people and they need me.

  4. I am not certain I can do this, but with support from others, good equipment and by giving it a good try, it will be worth it.

  5. I trust that I will have enough control on the activity to stop when I need to. With a growth in confidence this sentiment can be replaced with feeling that: we will look after one another, and we won’t stop till we are finished getting off a hill, getting out of a cave, getting to an exit point on a river or getting to the end of the obstacle course.

  6. I can do this and it will be great fun.

  7. The world is a big place, it’s more than me, my street, my town and I have a place in it.

Get outdoors and challenge yourself with some well managed risks. Most importantly: feel good about yourself.

Tony Smith, Head of Centre at Hindleap Warren

Sunday 15th July has been designated World Youth Skills Day by the United Nations.

Each year, Hindleap Warren sees more than 9,000 young people taking part in outdoor education. Through a combination of outdoor activities and the inherent benefits of attending a residential centre, young people are given the opportunity to develop their social and emotional capabilities. A trip to Hindleap offers young people the chance to improve their confidence, resilience and develop positive relationship skills.

Get involved in the conversation on Twitter @LondonYouth @HindleapWarren #WYSD