Posted by Caroline Bowman and Michael Peoples
Recently, 28 young people from a variety of backgrounds and geographical locations converged on Outward Bound Australia’s National Campus to take part in the Navigator 12-day adventure for 15 – 17 year-olds. Whilst they learnt about navigating through the wilderness, what these young people at the start of the program did not fathom was they were going to be learning skills to navigate their future goals, unforeseen challenges at school, jobs, build better relationships and have a greater positive outlook on their own life.
The Journey of a Young Person
“This program has encouraged me to continue no matter what and that there is always a way to improve”
Divided into two groups of 14 and accompanied by our highly skilled and supportive instructors, the teams traversed mountains, planned, persevered and overcame a range of situations which pushed them beyond their comfort zone. Each young person had opportunities to lead, self-reflect, gain valuable feedback from peers and accomplish tasks which they may not have previously considered before. Importantly for these young people the skills, knowledge and attitude they developed during their 12 days are real life skills that give them the confidence to continue to be inspired to reach their potential. This is what Outward Bound does – inspire and teach skills for young people to reach their potential!
The Outward Bound Trust UK provide a great example of the journey that young people embark on when taking part in an Outward Bound program, that starts from departing from home and continues into their lives whether it is deciding to take part in an apprenticeship, employment or further study (https://www.outwardbound.org.uk/our-impact/social-impact-report/).
What does the research say?
“My experience with Outward Bound was the best experience I’ve ever challenged myself to commit to. I’ve learnt how we take a lot of things for granted and I’m so thankful for everything in my life.”
For the April 2018 Navigator program which took place in the Australian Alps we took a snapshot of each participant to measure changes in Time Management, Social Competence, Achievement Motivation, Intellectual Flexibility, Task Leadership, Emotional Control, Active Initiative and Self Confidence using the Life Effectiveness Questionnaire (LEQ). The LEQ measures changes by comparing average questionnaire data between the first and last day. The results from these LEQ outputs show a strong or very strong positive impact. There was a quantitatively measurable increase in all the domains, with Social Competence showing a pronounced increase against all others. These scores suggest that participants departed the program recognising that they had become changed during their participation, and the likelihood of this change being mid to long term is high (Bowman).
So what made this program so impactful?
Outward Bound programs are run worldwide and demonstrate lasting impact on young people. Research has shown that an Outward Bound program’s impact on young people is not a one off. Key analysis points to the following contributing factors as to why Outward Bound programs such as Navigator have such positive results:
- Living and working with others in unfamiliar environments.
During the Navigator adventure, young people work together to achieve team goals as well as encourage each other through supported feedback and goal setting sessions. Instructor facilitators use participant lead reviews to build a sense of camaraderie and success as a team.
- Participating in adventurous activities that challenge perceived limitations.
Young people on the Navigator adventure have the opportunity to try new things such as abseiling and the high ropes challenge course that lead to memorable and peak experiences. They return home with the understanding that they can achieve more and are less likely to give up or say no to new things in the future.
- Focused outcomes for participants with supportive and skilled faciliatators.
Skilled instructor facilitators provide opportunities through adventurous programming and experiential education for young people to achieve key outcomes. Feedback on our instructor facilitators often highlights their ability to create a learning environment that is relatable for young people and which young people engage in and take ownership of.
A Joint Venture – Support of the Community a Key Component of Navigator Success
“Great program. My son said it is one of the best things he has ever done. He has so many stories to tell and appears to have gained a lot of confidence”
Outward Bound Australia recognises the importance of the role of the community in supporting young people’s continued success. Many of the young people engaging in this program have received sponsorship to participate. Lions Clubs from around Australia as well well as specific trusts have shown continued support of young people in their communities who would not have had the financial ability to afford such an adventure. As young people return home with greater confidence, it is parents, community clubs, schools and extended family and friends that will be key in the continued growth of the young person. As Outward Bound’s founder Kurt Hahn once said, “Outward Bound can ignite – that is all – it is up to others to keep the flame alive”
With thanks to:
Canberra City Lions Club, Gerringong Lions Club, Kambah Lions Club, Pambula-Merimbula Lions Club, Bowral Lions Club, ACT Together, Mundango Charitable Trust, Central West Bushwalking Club, Kiama Lions Club, Nowra Lions Club, Katrina Dixon Scholarship, Curlewis Family, Atkin Family, Sydney Church of England Grammar School, Wenona School
- Bowman, C (2018); Navigator – Australian Alps – Life Effectiveness Questionnaire Report; Outward Bound Australia
- The Outward Bound Trust (2017): Social Impact Report 2017;
Navigator – Rainforest in Northern NSW starts 14th January 2019. Enroll Now!!
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