Outdoor and Adventurous Activities

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By Bryony Gilkes level 5 Physical Education student

The level 5 Outdoor Adventurous Activities (OAA) module trip went ahead last weekend (20th- 23rd March) after weeks of uncertainty due to potential COVID-19 restrictions being in place. Fortunately, the government guidance allowed education to return for students on practical courses meaning we could safely participate in the trip, albeit slightly differently to previous years. The three days took place in the Forest of Dean, Winchcombe (a small market town in the Cotswolds) and the outdoor space on site at the university. Day one focused on enhancing our navigation skills through map reading, compass use and geographical landmark identification, whilst day two provided a new location to test out our skills and gain our National Navigation Bronze Award. The final day included bushcraft and survival skills lessons, team building activities and a presentation from the instructors detailing experiences of Everest adventures and ultra-marathons in the desert, all centred around the positive outcomes associated with adventure.

Having studied and researched the holistic benefits of OAA throughout our lectures, we were all really looking forward to being out in natural environments, socially interacting and putting theory into practice. It was evident after the two days of navigation exercises that everyone’s confidence and knowledge had developed, not just finding our way around these stunning venues, but also at the prospect of teaching in these environments and leading our own sessions with young people. We learnt a range of unique teaching approaches from the instructors and university staff, giving valuable ideas for future lessons and potential teaching approaches we could implement when leading OAA activities ourselves. For example, asking the children to identify different species of fir tree along the walk and then recognise the one most resembling the scent of oranges! Even as university students this was a very engaging task, but also one that could be easily adapted to the environment of the activity (birds, moss growth or flowers). The knot tying session on the third day gave everyone a chance to experience an important safety element required throughout many rope-based adventure activities. One of the recognised benefits of OAA is increases self-efficacy, which for many of our class was shown throughout attempting to tie a figure of eight knot. Although many struggled to begin with, everyone showed resilience to become successful which should have increased their confidence for subsequent attempts or throughout similar tasks in the future. The task provided a direct example of how a relatively simple outdoor adventurous activity could develop personal growth in an individual – something we have all written about in our first assessment for this fantastic module.

Overall, the trip was a real success allowing us to gain hands-on experience within the field of OAA, a key area of the national curriculum for physical education which is often overlooked. Although we were limited by COVID-19 and the activities we could safety participate in, the three days provided an opportunity to improve our navigation skills, become more confident in outdoor environments and apply theory to practice. It was a great experience to be out learning new skills, spending time with instructors, lecturers and course mates all whilst enjoying the great outdoors.

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