Examples of benefits

The OPENspace Wild Adventure Space Project Review (2006) draws on evaluations of projects of many types and sizes. It illustrates the range of likely benefits to young people, as well as illustrating some of the many forms that Outdoor Learning can take.

“The projects highlighted in the review have been chosen because they appear to be examples of good practice or demonstrate a unique or innovative approach in the engagement of young people.   The project review includes a number of case studies from key providers such as BCTV, Duke of Edinburgh and the Forestry Commission, some of whom have case studies included on their websites (Raleigh, National Trust, YHA) or within their own publications (CABE), which are referenced within the review.  The project review also aimed to source good practice among smaller, lesser well known providers as well as among a wide cross-section of young people, including those with disabilities, minority ethnic groups, and those from low income and disadvantaged communities, some of whom had never experienced ‘wild’ adventure space prior to the activity.”  Source: Wild Adventure Space Project Review

Here is a summary of the benefits identified in the various case studies:

  • Personal development in terms of raised self-confidence, independence, self-esteem, sense of achievement  (cited in most of the projects reviewed but particularly in those for disadvantaged young people)
  • Skill development including development of:
•    practical skills:  construction, woodworking (Forest Schools)
•    conservation techniques (National Trust Youth Discovery Working holidays)
•    social skills: getting along with others, team working (Night Owls)
•    presentation skills, via reporting back, making of videos (John Muir Award and Duke of Edinburgh Award)
•    physical skills via learning element of many activities (Perdiswell young people’s Club)
  • Widening of horizons, developing aspirations, improving employment prospects (YHA VALVE)
  • Breathing space, having ‘fun’ away from everyday pressures of family, peer groups, school (Do it 4 Real)
  • Environmental awareness (RSPB Sandwell Valley Wildspace)
  • Social benefits:
•    diversity awareness between cultures (BEN Riverside)
•    social inclusion for disadvantaged individuals (Barnsley Peak District Award)
•    sense of belonging via setting up of clubs (Delamere Bike Club)
•    opportunities to develop away from peer pressure (Do it 4 Real)
  • Improved physical and mental well-being (Green Ground Zero)
  • Effecting changes in behaviour including:
•    reduction in drink/drug dependence (Akenshaw Youth Project)
•    reduction in truancy (Forest Schools)
•    reduction in probation periods (Venture Trust)
•    through ‘club’ management of activities providing a new focus and interest for many young people (Riverside Centre)

Source: Wild Adventure Space Project Review (June 2006) Section, prepared for the Countryside Agency, English Nature and Rural Development Service by Jenny Roe, OPENspace.