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Three reasons to go on an outdoor adventure trip!

There are so many good reasons to take your pupils out of the classroom to learn and so many school trips to choose from. When looking for ideas, you may ask trusty Google or Bing for school trip ideas. Should you stay in the UK or go to France? Or further afield? There will be a few things that influence your search for the best trip and the eventual decision that you make. The first thing to consider is what you want your pupils to gain from the experience? And then, what budget do you have in mind? There are many exciting school trips in the UK but going abroad isn’t as expensive as you may think because often, the coach travel is included, as is the VAT. Journeys to northern France can be as easy as travel within the UK, but the experience of France adds to the excitement.

We think a school trip that includes adventurous activities and cultural visits offers the ultimate learning outside the classroom experience. If you can go abroad to do this, all the better. Adding a ferry crossing, a different country and language into a trip can add that extra wow factor for pupils and achieves even more than you would expect in just a few days. The UK has the advantages of being closer to home, shorter durations and an array of great destinations that can even rival overseas trips. It all depends on your objectives.

We’ve identified three reasons you should take your pupils on an outdoor adventure trip, based on decades of experience, research from the LOtC (Learning Outside the Classroom) and talking to teachers. We hope this helps you with your school trip planning.

1. Personal development

Learning Outside the Classroom is a well-evidenced tool for developing character. It broadens horizons, and develops resilience, team working and self-awareness, which contribute to improved attainment.

Supporting the development of character traits is likely to help pupils be successful at school, in later life and in employment.

Our experiences of delivering outdoor education to young people is that it introduces them to a wide variety of new challenges, often in non-competitive environments, that pushes each pupil out of their comfort zones in ways that are different for each individual. One pupil may conquer a fear of heights, another may discover a joy for being in the outdoors that previously wasn’t there. For the next student, just being away from home can be a challenge to overcome. Often, we find that students look up to our staff and see them as positive role models which in turn can inspire a love of being active in the great outdoors. It’s often hard to identify specifically what each person gained form an outdoor adventure, but what we know from talking to teachers who have run these trips for many years, that the benefits of these trips are very real.

2. Improved pupil/teacher relationships (improving academic success)

One of the reasons that Acorn Adventure started back in the 1980’s, is because Andrew Gardiner, Acorn’s founder and owner, had seen for himself the difference running school adventure trips made to his life back in the classroom. He had a lightbulb moment and decided he wanted to create more opportunities for teachers to be able to go on trips. The relationship between a teacher and pupils is often overlooked when studying academic success, but any teacher (and pupil) will understand the difference this makes. By taking pupils out of the classroom and participating in activities together, barriers created by formal school environments are often broken down. Otherwise challenging pupils can soften when they see a teacher in their own clothes, afraid of heights…sharing experiences with them. So, taking your pupils outside the classroom, will improve your experiences in the classroom (as well as theirs) and ultimately improve school and pupil academic results.

3. Risk, challenge and adventure

Roald Dahl once said, “The more risks you allow children to take, the better they learn to take care of themselves.” There is wide belief that we are producing a culture of `cotton wool kids` that are missing out on experiences that increase confidence and self-esteem. Learning outside the classroom helps young people to develop the ability to cope with and experience a wide variety of challenges. It requires them to make informed choices and to understand and take responsibility for the consequences. It leads to a positive ‘can-do’ attitude. Risk and challenge can be provided in all learning outside the classroom contexts – from activities within school grounds, to adventurous expeditions overseas. LOtC is statisitcally very safe.

The challenges which young people face in many learning activities outside the classroom require the management of risk. Managing risk through appropriate planning, supervision, proper equipment and a regard for other factors such as the weather or the time of day is what contributes to making these activities safe for young people while still offering sufficient challenge. These activities not only give young people the opportunity to manage risk for themselves, but also provide wonderful opportunities for them to be actively involved in risk management planning.

Acorn is a well-established school and group adventure travel specialist, with 38 years of experience. We have nine adventure centres in the France, Italy, Spain, Wales & England. Most of our trips perfectly combine adventurous activities in beautiful locations with cultural visits. We pride ourselves on providing quality outdoor education for good value prices, ensuring that every child gets the opportunity to experience a school adventure trip and the many benefits we have identified. Many of our centres offer school children the unique opportunity to camp in the great outdoors in comfortable, pre-erected tents with beds. Living in a tented village setting has the added benefits of creating a `community spirit` and we believe every child should have the opportunity to sleep under the stars. Some of our centres offer indoor accommodation options, but the village ethos runs through every centre giving each school their own small, friendly space, encouraging a community spirit, team building and life-skills that come with living together in a group.

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