I was lucky enough growing up to go camping with my family fairly regularly. I have fond memories of my dad teaching me to set up a tent, collecting firewood with my brothers, and helping my mum prepare meals around the campfire.
But as I got older and started yearning for a bit of freedom, I started taking part in youth adventure camps. These experiences offered me a whole new world of outdoor activities. I got to try my hand at rock climbing, abseiling, kayaking, and even more!
These trips really helped grow my love for the great outdoors. They also were important for my personal growth and development. I truly feel like I learned lifelong lessons adventuring on uninhabited islands around the UK.
I know from personal experience that there are loads of reasons for youth groups to get involved with adventure kids camps. But there’s also plenty of research to show that outdoor activities come with loads of benefits for our mental, physical and social wellbeing!
If you want to read more about the research behind it, I’ve written a post on the science-backed benefits of hiking for my own blog.
Outdoor adventure offers a chance for kids to get involved in physical exercise which focuses on personal achievement rather than competition with others.
This can be really valuable for some young people.
It helps boost self-confidence and self-esteem by showing them what they are capable of. Kids might not believe what they have the ability to do before taking part in experiences.
As Stuart Wickes, writer for The Family Adventure Project says:
“When children are helped and allowed to experience risk, even in a semi-controlled way, it helps develop their ability to deal with it and builds self-confidence. It encourages them to think for themselves and develops their resilience. It readies them for dealing with the risks and uncertainties that are part of the big wide world. Who doesn’t want active, healthy, resilient, confident, independent adventure kids? And don’t we need people like that in the world?”
I know I was certainly worried about not being able to scale up the rock face when I first looked up at it. But as I started to pull myself up to the top of the cliff, I realised that I actually was able to do it.
I wasn’t the quickest out of everyone that day, but I managed to overcome my self-doubt and achieved something. I felt really proud of myself for doing it.
Nowadays, when I look back on moments like that, I realize how important taking part in those activities was in making me a more confident person.
Working With Others
Even things that you can do by yourself (like rock climbing or mountain biking), we did as a group when I was at youth camps. You worked together to make sure that everyone had a good experience.
It was a valuable lesson for me growing up about the importance of offering a hand to those who needed one – and accepting a helping hand when it was offered to me.
You gain a lot of independence from taking part in outdoor adventures and it can really improve your self-esteem to achieve things for yourself. But the great outdoors can also help teach you the value of working as a team and pulling together to make sure everyone has the best experience possible.
Outdoor adventures have been shown to encourage children to develop skills such as problem-solving and negotiating risk which are important for healthy childhood growth. Socialising as part of adventure camps helps provide kids with the skills they need to develop to grow up to be a strong team player.
Embracing the Great Outdoors
Of course, one of the biggest effects youth camps had on me growing up was to cement my love and appreciation for the great outdoors!
I don’t know if I would have ever had the opportunity to try the activities I took part in at youth camps later in life. As an adult, it can be hard to find the time to try out new hobbies or experiences.
Nowadays, I look back with jealousy at how I got the chance to go try abseiling as a kid. I might not get the same opportunities as a boring grown-up, but any time I get the chance for an outdoor adventure I’m always quick to say yes to it!
*Bonus Reason* Most Importantly…
… adventure camps are fun! It’s a chance to try new things and spend some time hanging out with other kids.
Of course, there’s a lot of personal growth and development that happens during these camps, but they’re also a chance to enjoy yourself and make some lifelong memories.
So if you’re thinking about organising an active school trip for your students or a group leader looking to book an adventure kids-camp, as an ex-adventurer I say go for it!
The kids will learn and grow, have a lot of fun and come away with lifelong memories about their time at camp.
James Black runs Wilderness Redefined, a website with the aim of promoting sustainable enjoyment of the wilderness and making the great outdoors accessible for all. He found his love of the great outdoors adventuring with youth groups in the highlands and islands of Scotland. In his day-to-day, James is an economist at a UK-based research institute.