I’m not particularly vocal in a public sense about the mechanics of the Outdoor Industry, whilst these past months have been challenging for everyone on so many levels, the Outdoor sector has had a difficult year, we’ve all been affected by it, the future for one area within it though is bleak.
My best full time job was 20 years ago, working for Outward Bound at the centre at Aberdovey. It was a time when you worked hard, I can remember doing long stints of work, 10-12 hour days and evenings, counting down to when you had a day off in 3 weeks time and still planing to go climbing on that one day with friends. It was fast paced, no 2 days the same, some days went well, some you had curve balls being blasted at you so fast you learnt to adapt quickly. The concentrated experience of the staff team, instructors and support folk was how you learnt, how you adapted although maybe survived would be a better word at busy times! The type of work you were exposed too though was just vast, it was a steep learning curve, you could making it as exciting and adventurous as you wanted, you were given all this autonomy about how the course developed. How could you not not enjoy this… I could wax lyrical about this time all day, I look back on it now as the best part of my apprenticeship working in the outdoors, it shaped so much of what I believe in about the industry today. So many folk who I worked with there back then are still in working in the Outdoors, all have become highly qualified professionals in their fields, I think that is testament to that Centre and organisation.
And I haven’t even got started on the benefits of young people having the opportunity to attend an outdoor residential centre….. This is not just about being outside and having exercise, although those are 2 excellent reasons, a residential is so much more than that. For a start it’s simply a part of growing up, being away with your mates, having fun, sneaking around the dormitories at night, being given the opportunity to have a crack at something ‘dangerous’ and so on….stories and memories to last a lifetime. It’s about being given an opportunity and that opportunity can and will offer learning. About yourselves, about your relationships with others, about to how cope with being away from home, about the idea of being in a ‘dangerous’ place, about how to cope in these situations….I could write forever on this.
I wonder how many people later in life still reminisce about that trip or reflect back on their ‘week’ and realise that something changed for them. You don’t get grades, it doesn’t necessarily have a place on a CV, but you learn…you most likely won’t even realise what you’ve learnt then, but one day you will.
A residential experience has a place, outdoor centres are the vehicle, both are restricted currently. We have been losing Outdoor Centres (and lets not forget that there are residential centres that cater for adults as well) for years now and will continue to do so soon and rapidly if nothing changes. We will not get them back once they close... The Outdoor Centres over 60-70 years have shaped so many individuals, it’s not just about saving jobs at this crucial time…..
Please read the links and get involved - maybe contact your local centre or the one you visited when you were a kid, to see how you can support it! https://www.outwardbound.org.uk/.../save-your-outdoor...