It’s hoped a conference which brought together outdoor specialists, students and academics from across the north west will lead to more collaborative projects in the future.
Health – and specifically the need to remain active – proved a significant talking point throughout the day-long event held at the University of Cumbria’s Ambleside campus.
“It is possible to hear only the doom-saying calls that children are becoming disconnected from nature, obese and ignorant of where their food comes from,” according to Andy Robinson, chief executive of the Institute of Outdoors Education, which held their annual north west branch conference at Ambleside. “Friday’s conference was a rebuttable to those who think the next generation are not engaged through outdoor learning. It was encouraging to see not only a healthy cross section of experienced outdoor learning practitioners sharing good practice, but also the enthusiasm and ambition of the students present who are looking to lead and educate more young people in the outdoors.”
For the university, mental as well as physical health was identified by a number of speakers as an area where existing links could be developed.
"Outdoor studies is a diverse subject area – at the University of Cumbria there is a growing research base in physical health; risk, coaching and leadership; mental health and well-being; and environmental education, underpinned by the application of outdoor skills and outdoor learning,” according to Elspeth Lees, head of Outdoor Studies for the University of Cumbria. “It’s our challenge to make sure we build on the networks we’ve already established to challenge perceptions and raise awareness of the importance of outdoor studies to society.”
Watch a short film about the day here: