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Why school outdoor adventure residential trips are the ideal mental health intervention

In October 2019 the Institute for Outdoor Learning published their statement of good practice around Outdoor Mental Health Interventions. The statement highlights the growing importance placed on outdoor learning beyond simply education, but for mental health and wellbeing. It has been created to support organisations like ours by laying out best practice in using outdoor learning as a mental health intervention, and it also serves as a benchmark for schools and group leaders looking for outdoor learning experiences that will improve the mental health and wellbeing of their children.

The Institute for Outdoor Learning’s statement is supported by the British Society of Lifestyle Medicine, which believes that “introducing the ‘greens and blues’ of outdoor environment can be life-changing.”

Mental Health Intervention – best practice for outdoor professionals

The statement of best practice sets out a framework of competence that outdoor professionals can follow to ensure outdoor learning experiences ‘enable progressive learning and change in the outdoors using a sequence of activities.’

For us at Wildchild, the statement very much supports and validates our own ethos of delivering immersive outdoor adventure trips, with mental health and wellbeing at the heart of everything we do.

How a Wildchild Adventure trip can improve children’s mental health and wellbeing

At Wildchild we have always differentiated ourselves from our competitors by the nature of our trips that focus on the outdoor experience itself, with teambuilding and bushcraft skills sessions designed to foster a love of the great outdoors. Our unique focus on the outdoor experience over a period of 2-5 days, beyond simply taking children from one harnessed activity to the next, brings with it many mental health benefits.

We use the Forest Schools approach when creating and delivering our adventure trips. This sustained approach to outdoor education and outdoor play is designed to motivate, encourage and inspire children through their positive outdoor experiences.

All our adventures take place at woodland adventure centres, with accommodation offered by either our traditional canvas bell tented village, or woodland lodges. For the duration of the trip children enjoy a much-needed ‘digital detox’. Time away from screens to communicate with their peers, enjoy physical outdoor activities and learn to appreciate and enjoy every experience for itself, without the need to capture it on camera or share it on social media!

Wildchild Adventure experiences are created in line with school staff and group leaders to work for the age of each group, but also their objectives for the trip. Together we create an experience that offers children the intervention they need – whether it’s social interaction, teambuilding, confidence building – often it will be a number of objectives to support children’s personal development.

We never underestimate the importance of simply being and playing outdoors. With so much indoor, technology-led entertainment available, so many children lack the opportunity and motivation to spend time playing outside. Reminding, or often, introducing, children to the joy of the great outdoors is one of the key driving factors for Wildchild Adventure.

“It’s possible to live without electricity and still have fun!” Year 6 student, Rockingham Primary School.

Thank you to the Institute of Outdoor Learning for developing a model that recognises and supports the development of good quality outdoor education experiences as mental health interventions, we absolutely couldn’t agree more.

If you’re looking for a Wildchild Adventure for your school or group do get in touch. We’d love to develop the ideal outdoor experience that works for you.

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