Why Are Camps and Outdoor Education Experiences so Essential for School Students?
Australian educators believe that their number one challenge is supporting students with mental health conditions and more than 80% of them believe that the tension between supporting student wellbeing and teaching the curriculum is increasing1. With the nearly four million students enrolled in Australian schools projected to increase substantially in the next decade, these tensions can only increase if schools do not now actively work to reduce them.
Independent research2 shows that camps and outdoor education programs play a key role in addressing these concerns. Camps have been shown to reduce anxiety, increase connection to school, increase connection to peers and increase efficacy, all strong markers of good mental health. Camps and outdoor education programs involve physical activity, working in small facilitated groups and connection with the natural world – a combination that is highly effective in improving physical and mental wellbeing.
Employers have recently expressed strong concerns about the inadequacy of school leavers’ capabilities, including their lack of self-management, planning and organisational skills (45% of surveyed employers); and problem-solving, initiative and enterprise skills (41% of surveyed employers)3.
Camps and led outdoor experiences focus on building interpersonal and intrapersonal skills such as independence, resilience, leadership, communication and respect for others. The development of these skills and characteristics address employer concerns and are critical in preparing students for future employment, especially given that two-thirds of all jobs will be people-skill intensive by 20304. The recently published Looking to the Future report5 identifies the development such skills as being an essential element of Australian education delivery in the years to come.
The Australian Camps Association believes that universal access to camps and led outdoor experiences in schools is key to producing happy, healthy and employable young people and ultimately a healthier community. Our member camps and activity providers look forward to continuing to help build our society, now more than ever.
1 Future of Education 2020, McCrindle Research Pty Ltd
2 Outdoor Youth Programs Research Alliance www.oypra.org.au
3 Australian Industry Group (2018), Skilling: A national imperative.
4 Soft skills for business success. Deloitte. (2017). Sydney, Australia: Access Economics.
5 Looking to the Future, Report of the review of senior secondary pathways into work, further education and training, Education Council, June 2020
The three Outdoor sector peak bodies have been working collaboratively to consult with the Government regarding appropriate implementation and support measures. Most recently Rod Thomson (ACA CEO), Graeme Janes (CVA CEO) and Andrew Knight (OV CEO) met with DET senior staff to gain further details regarding Guidelines for schools.