Outdoor providers should strive to deliver a creative learning process by catering for the needs of each individual and to provide academic, artistic, and social aspects in each program through active participation. If they don’t promote this then they are sadly lacking in my opinion. Staff who provide the activities should be trained in first aid and CPR and carry a first-aid kit during activity time. Of course schools will always need to provide their own that contains the medication or equipment needed for their students.
Instructors should specify that they take child protection issues extremely serious and all staff should have undergone stringent ‘Working with Children’ checks and abide by a code of conduct. Because each group of participants has different needs, outdoor providers should be flexible and be able and willing to adjust their program to suit your needs. As far as activities are concerned these should contain outcomes to complement your curriculum.
For example bush walking could contain some or all of the following: Duty of care, codes of ethics, planning process for bush walking, cause & effect of decision-making, maps, compass, navigation, orientation, landmarks, emergency procedures, walking techniques & skills, health, safety & welfare of self & others, behavioural & social issues, recognise individual strengths and limitations, environment, public & private land, teambuilding & cooperation, minimize risk, observation skills, minimal impact, safe toileting practices, food & drinking water requirements, skill, experience, physical fitness, communicate ideas & information, and personal equipment.
If you like water activities such as canoeing then outcomes such as these could be part of the program: Flat and white water, duty of care, codes of ethics, minimal impact, planning process for canoeing, cause & effect of decision making, appropriate clothing, water safety issues, hypothermia, dehydration, paddling strokes, equipment handling, white water hazards, entrapments in watercraft, natural & unnatural strainers, rocks & obstacles, safe toilet practices, emergency procedures, communication and signals, behavioural & social issues, teambuilding skills, recognise individual strengths and limitations, health, safety and welfare of self and others.
Of course water safety should always be delivered before any water activity so these outcomes could be found in their program: Duty of care, equipment handling, team building, hydraulics & river mechanics, white water hazards, foot entrapments, defensive swimming techniques, communication, signals, roping skills, rescue techniques, throw bags, vector pull, mechanical advantages, cause & effect of decision making, health, safety and welfare of self and others, recognise individual strengths and limitations.
To summarise my thoughts; outdoor learning can help bring classroom-based subjects alive, stimulate unexplored interests and in essence is not limited. Although student learning outcomes are important, the most important issues with any outdoor learning activity are the safety codes and codes of conduct. These safety codes and codes of conduct are usually found in a business’ Child-safe Child-friendly Policy and Code of Conduct statement, provides clear boundaries and should be adhered to at all times by all participating school children but should also be adhered to by teachers, parents, caregivers, and activity providers with no exception. Be safe on your next school camp!