Dear Paddlesport Community, help us #SaveOutdoorEd 

Many of you will probably have had your first taste of kayaking or canoeing at an outdoor education centre with school, at a summer camp or with organisations such as the Scouts or Cadets. Indeed, you’ll never forget the late night dormitory giggles, writing postcards home, the skirmish for the hot showers or the smell of festering wetsuits in the drying room! Right now though, outdoor education centres across the UK are facing permanent closure due to COVID-19 restrictions on overnight visits and sporting activities. This article scratches the surface of the outcomes of outdoor education for young people with the insights of professionals from around the UK and concludes with some suggestions on how you can kindly help the fight to #SaveOutdoorEd.

Little imaginations running wild in the snowy Lake District. Did someone see a yeti!?

Since March, there has been no outdoor education residentials in the UK, with tens of thousands of children missing out on the opportunity to experience activities such as canoeing, rock climbing, archery, gorge walking, mountaineering and sailing, all whilst living away from home. Other adventures whilst on residential may include trying new food, helping with chores, cleaning boots and making a bed (this one’s often particularly traumatic!). Behind the activities, there is a whole range of benefits and developmental skills to be gained, most of which cannot be fully exercised in a classroom: problem solving in ‘real’ situations, developing resilience to new and challenging situations, following a routine or instructions, identifying and mitigating hazards and risks, environmental awareness, self-confidence and self-esteem, physical activity, communication skills, teamworking, timekeeping, independent living, resolving conflict, raising aspirations… the list goes on!

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