Helping children learn and grow to become responsible adults is the primary goal of education. Factual knowledge is but one aspect of education; true holistic growth can occur only when the child experiences progress in intellectual, spiritual, physical, social and moral aspects also. A highly effective methodology to help children hone their team-building skill, leadership, interpersonal skill and confidence is through directly engaging them in activities that present challenges. Through outdoor education, all these qualities in children can be stimulated and put to test through activities and exercises in an informal environment outside of the classroom, for example, in jungles or rural areas.
Outdoor education helps children develop community. Human beings are social creatures; we tend to create social groups and circles that help us go through life. Outdoor learning gives the students an opportunity to interact with each other in an informal setting, helping to melt away the walls of formal, systemic education. Students interact through outdoor activities and challenges, get to know new things about each other that a classroom setting normally wouldn’t encourage.
Being outdoors translates to students leaving behind their familiar environments and venturing out into something new – a stimulus that helps build resilience, adaptability and curiosity in them. Leaving comfort zone behind and learning to survive in unfamiliar surroundings are indispensable life-skills that all children should know today. Outdoor education programmes are designed to subtly test students’ capability to take challenges in stride and put in efforts to succeed through games, adventure sports and other recreational tasks. It also helps them build bonds with their fellow participants.
Performing activities together in team games is one of the most popular methods used to reinforce positive communication and collaborative effort in students in outdoor education programmes. Students, through experiencing teamplay, grasp the concept of teamwork and unified efforts. It also helps the instructors identify individualistic skills and talents of participants, like leadership, physical agility, interpersonal skill, etc. This helps the instructors guide these individuals to play to their strengths.
Outdoor education is a multi-faceted programme with manifold benefits that directly impact the mental and physical frame of the participants. In addition to factual knowledge education, it is important for the students to develop their personalities as a whole – which is where outdoor education can fill in the gaps.