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About Outdoor Education

Outdoor Education (OE) engages participants in practical and active learning experiences, typically in natural settings, for benefits to the person, community and nature. While largely focused on youth, adults can also undertake outdoor education programs and enjoy significant personal development through the transformative process which users the outdoors as the learning environment.

Contrary to what people think, outdoor education is not about learning to navigate and hike, pitch a tent and build a campfire. They are merely activities that happen in the outdoor “classroom” where participants learn about comfort zones, communication and teamwork, resilience, fortitude, perseverance, goal setting and a whole lot more.

Why Outdoor Education?

Throughout time the making of men and women has often come about through challenging personal experiences in natural settings.

Today in our civilised world and with 64 % of NSW’s population living in Sydney, opportunities to do that are rare. Which is why Outdoor Education (OE) is so vital. It provides experiential learning opportunities that contribute significantly towards building strength of character.

However first and foremost, OE enables students of all ages to explore, learn and enjoy being outdoors.

OE provides many benefits:

  • Being active outdoors contributes to health and well-being
  • Nature is part of our humanity and essential for developing our senses, physiologically and psychologically
  • Through OE young people learn about the environment, sustainability, compassion and custodianship
  • Outdoor education provides experiences in relationships, resilience and reflection
  • Through outdoor education young people learn about actions and consequences and taking responsibility
  • Plus, they discover their own courage

In fact studies have shown when nature is included in curriculum student achievements rise in core academic areas and behaviours improve.

Providers of Outdoor Education

In NSW Outdoor Education is delivered via a number of avenues:

  • Private and public schools – though not all schools have an outdoor ed program
  • Organisations that design and delivery programs on a fee for service basis
  • Grassroots organisations like Scouts, Girl Guides, Pathfinders and PCYC

Many schools offer outdoor education programs from K through to 12. You can discover more about the elements of these programs here.  You find our OE members here.

And, you can meet one of our OE members on our Spotlight on Outdoor Ed page.

Outdoor Practitioners Education Network (OPEN)

The OPEN group was originally formed thanks to the effort of Mark Brackenreg, Mark Trollop and Paul Holmes. OPEN hosts workshops and networking events to help bring the outdoor professionals and practitioners together to share ideas, talk about current issues, share practice. Outdoors NSW is excited to make individual membership available to the OPEN group in 2017.

Outdoor Education Australia

Outdoors NSW is a member of Outdoor Education Australia. They have resources and updates for OE practitioners here on their website and on their Facebook page.

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I regard it as the foremost task of education to insure the survival of these qualities: an enterprising curiosity, an undefeatable spirit, tenacity in pursuit, readiness for sensible self denial, and above all, compassion.

Kurt Hahn

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