• Matt Peters

Benefits of Outdoor Education

Manitobans love our natural spaces and outdoor activity, especially paddling. For many of us in the "over 30" age demographic, we most likely participated in an overnight canoe trip in our youth. Something ignited within us to experience adventure and thrive in the rugged local forests.

Camping and wilderness experiences are a great context to create an adventure and explore what the nature world contains, but an outdoor education experience also offers many other additional benefits to modern children and youth. Let me share a few with you;

1. It promotes active learning. For many youth, static learning isn't engaging enough to absorb and maintain information. Active and hands-on interaction amplifies the learning process as students can learn about the world through a lens of using all their senses. You can see, hear, touch, taste, and smell natural places, often through an active and kinetic way such as canoeing, hiking, biking, and camping.

2. It encourages intellectual, physical and social development. Participants will naturally learn how to work together when experiencing an outdoor adventure. They will also have opportunities to learn valuable life skills such as responsibility, accomplishment, cooperation, and encouragement.

3. If helps build self-esteem and self-confidence. When participants are given a challenge, which outdoor programs naturally provide, they will learn to face and overcome their fears. This helps reinforce community connection, accomplishment, and independence which will help build their confidence.

4. It provides an opportunity to learn about other cultures. All over Canada there exists unique cultural significance to anything natural. Her in Manitoba we have many local Indigenous communities that connect deeply to the land, the resources found in it, and the way of life using it. Local outdoor adventure and education is amplified as elders share about their skills and understanding, their heritage, and their cultural customs.

5. It creates an unparalleled opportunity to engage with the Bible and it's writers. The natural environment is one of the most foundational and useful tools to understand the scriptures. These include interactive metaphors such as touching and seeing natural things, to understanding early culture while tenting, to modern wilderness experiences being a refuge from technology and distraction.

There are many more benefits that are hard to write about in one article. This was my way of starting a conversation or making us think more intentionally about what camping and outdoor programs can provide here in Manitoba. We can all agree that the benefits outweigh the consequences when programs are safe, fun, and rewarding. There is always going to be risk, but navigating around and through the risk is part of the learning process.

If you want to learn more about outdoor education and adventure programs for youth, please check out WILDERLAND ADVENTURE COMPANY.

Until next time...

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