“Every child has inside them an aching void for excitement and if we don't fill it
with something which is exciting and interesting and good for them,
they will fill it with something which is exciting and interesting
and not good for them.”
Many schools are running experiential outdoor education and community service trips, yet many do not know exactly why they are committing so much time and money to these programs. Has your school taken the time to ask some key questions?
- What are your ultimate goals and reasons for running your experiential programs?
- Have you spent time looking at the scope and sequence of your program to ensure it flows well, and that the lessons from each year are building blocks for one another?
- Are you effectively integrating the learning from the experience outside of the class back into the classroom environment and the larger school community?
- Do your staff that do not accompany the trip have a clear sense of how they can support the students when they come back to school and help support the transference of learning?
- Is your entire teaching staff aware of the purpose, vision and goals of your overarching experiential program? If not, are you willing to educate your staff so they can help nurture the softer life skills while still focusing on their academic goals?
- Are you taking the time to thread together your outdoor experiential programs and your community service programs? Too many schools have a vast disconnect between these two aspects of learning. It's a missed opportunity to run these programs entirely separately. What can you do to deepen all aspects of your experiential programs-- both your outdoor focused and local/international service programs? Sometimes small changes can make a big difference.
- Have you thought about running an evening workshop or two for parents on the lessons that you are imparting to your students during your experiential education programs? We feel there would be great power if schools could get their teachers and their parents to help with the transference of the lessons from their experiential programs and workshops.
One of the advantages that we have at ALIVE Outdoors is that we work with several independent schools, and have gained valuable insight from each unique approach and philosophy. Simply by watching and listening over the last decade and a half we have pocketed a wealth of knowledge. Let us help you streamline your experiential program and help you crystallize the purpose and meaning for your students.
Every school is different. These experiences that you offer beyond the classroom walls have the potential to be extremely powerful, as long as they are created in a mindful way, with intention and meaning threaded throughout the larger picture.
CONSULTING at BRANKSOME HALL ASIA, JEJU ISLAND, KOREA
Branksome Hall Asia has been associated with ALIVE Outdoors since the inception of the school in 2012 through our Canadian Exchange Program. The ALIVE Outdoors camp for our grade 9 students has been the highlight experience for many of our students. Working with the students and watching the profound impact that camp and the ALIVE team had on our student’s confidence, self awareness, self concept and character development it was obvious we needed to extend the program back to Korea and into our school environment.
ALIVE Outdoors visited our campus on Jeju Island, Korea for just under two weeks in a consultant capacity and worked with a team of faculty and administrators to:
- Identify the goals and objectives of the experiential education program in line with Branksome Hall Asia’s mission and values.
- Analyze data collected from staff and students on specific needs at each grade level to determine focused themes for each grade level.
- Create a scope and sequence of themes, camps and workshops to meet our student’s needs from Grade 7-12, including Prefect leadership development.
- Provide staff professional development on character strengths.
- Conduct initial risk management of a variety of sites in an international context to ensure international standards of risk management would be maintained.
- Liaise with cultural experts in the country to ensure the scope and sequence was built on understanding and appropriate to the context, while at the same time still challenging the promotion of a global mindset.
ALIVE’s expertise in the area of experiential education and service learning was invaluable, as was the detailed and thorough report they created to inform our next steps. ALIVE was extremely generous in sharing their experiences, knowledge and resources to ensure this program was meaningful and relevant to our school.
ALIVE (Jalynn and Sam) were successfully able to listen and learn about the culture while weaving this with their extensive knowledge and experience to create a unique and individualized program and report. The process provided us with the perfect start to implementing our experiential education program at Branksome Hall Asia and has provided clear direction for the future.
As a school we are very grateful and appreciative of the relationship that has formed with ALIVE Outdoors. We are in regular contact as they continue to help guide the program and provide their counsel on a range of topics associated with the implementation of our multi-grade initiative on Jeju Island, South Korea.
Branksome Hall Asia, 2014
Outdoor Education Coordinator
CONSULTING for GREENWOOD COLLEGE
Greenwood College School has worked closely with ALIVE Outdoors since 2007. During this time, ALIVE Outdoors has planned, organized and overseen numerous outdoor education programs with the school. These have included three day canoe trips to Algonquin Provincial Park for Grade 9 students, eight day canoe trips to Temagami, Ontario for Grade 10 students and our residential winter camp program for students in Grades 7-10.
It is readily apparent how the ALIVE Outdoors team prepare extensively to provide meaningful experiences for our students. They, along with all their instructors, have demonstrated a strong commitment to planning intentional and engaging experiential programs which provide appropriate challenge, opportunities for leadership, personal growth and critical reflection. Moreover, considering Greenwood’s outdoor programming is extensive (every Grade is away on trip twice per school year), ALIVE has been committed to developing programming which focuses on the needs and goals of each individual cohort. Their attention to detail, commitment to risk management planning, and dedication to working collaboratively with the school and our parent community is exemplary.
In addition to providing outdoor education programming, ALIVE Outdoors has recently supported the school in a consulting capacity. In the spring of 2015, ALIVE looked thoughtfully at Greenwood’s outdoor/experiential program in order to provide recommendations for improvement. They reviewed our program holistically, while closely considering the importance of the school’s mission and key goals in regards to character programming. The final report was thoughtful and professionally written. It provided the school with key recommendations which have led to valuable changes aimed at improving the scope and sequence, depth, and progressive nature of our programs.
As a school, the partnership between our two organizations has been extremely valuable. We are grateful for the support and guidance that ALIVE Outdoors has provided us; we look forward to working closely together for many years to come.
Vice-Principal, Student Programs
Greenwood College School