3 ways outdoor education helps inspire modern workforce skills

Have you ever found inspiration for your teaching in odd places? I know I do…

This week my year nine students and I went on a canoe camp along a local river. Basically, we canoed for four days and worked together in our own traveling community.

Now, finding inspiration for teaching on a school camp isn’t exactly a new frontier… nor does it make me some explorer finding new uninhabited land… however, I did find so many skills useful in the gig economy along the riverbank.

This is a bit funny (not in a haha kinda way)…. it seems as though outdoor education is the first thing to be cut when budgets tighten.

Three modern workforce skills that are improved with outdoor education

Teamwork

This is the obvious one… so much of what the students did out there was in groups. Packing canoes, organising meals, setting up tents, completing camp jobs… so many opportunities to work with different people.

Often, students had to communicate with others to achieve a certain goal. Furthermore, they had to learn how others work well and make sure everyone is using their strengths.

The teamwork elements from this camp would take weeks, or months, to develop in a classroom.

Resilience

Another obvious one… the modern workforce requires people to be more resilient than ever; working for a range of clients, starting businesses and new projects will have it’s downsides for sure… and it is how you work through those times which is key.

On an outdoor education camp, we put students straight out of their comfort zone and make them work most of it out.

Being away from luxuries like technology, plumbing, air conditioning, and electricity is something that pushed most of my teens. Sure, at the start they missed their phones and their families (some in that order), but after a few days they adjusted to their environment.

Every student left the four days with the feeling of accomplishment one only gets from using resilience to push through hard times.

Innovation

Innovation is the art of doing something that is different and better… innovation doesn’t mean the latest gadget or widget.

So, seeing teens use their ingenuity to come up with ideas that us staff hadn’t come up with yet was awesome to see.

The group of students who were leading that section of the camp came up with a new solution after weighing the pros and cons of many options… they even communicated these pros and cons to staff and classmates as they looked for feedback before coming to a decision.

Giving students the freedom to make their own decisions and take charge was the catalyst to innovation on our camp.

Final thoughts

What do you think? Do you see the added value of outdoor education in for modern teens?

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