OutdoorAdventure Programs & Youth at Risk . Outdoor Adventure Education Programs. “ Outdoor” Pursuits- Knowledge and skills associated with movement through the natural environment. Non-motorized/ Non-competitive/ Non-mechanized
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Despite the wide variety of outdoor education programs a unifying thread seems to be the facilitation of emotional growth and well-being (Berman & Davis-Berman).
Some experts believe that the natural setting is the most important therapeutic element, while others argue that it is the activities themselves and how they are experienced that have an positive effect on at-risk youth.
Outcome studies measuring changes in areas such as self-esteem, self-concept, self-efficacy have been the most common style of formal research and evolution in outdoor education.
There are theories that our youth are disconnecting from nature and the new found connection with nature has positive effect on them and gives them balance. Others feel Alienation, a lack of belonging and lack of control are addressed through adventure programs and are the key components that help youth with positive changes.
Not all research in the area of adventure education and at-risk youth is positive.
Minor and Elrod (1994) failed to find any significant differences between or within groups when adolescent self-concept and locus of control were examined.
In Herberts study although significant positive change resulted the effect dissipated over the course of a year.
Results reported by Pommier and Witt (1995) showed positive outcomes identified immediately following participation in wilderness adventure activities, particularly in the area of self-perception, followed by a regression toward pretest scores when long-term follow-ups were conductive.
A careful review of literature reveals how little we know about why or how adventure programs work, and for how long they work.
Despite the wide variety of outdoor education programs, a unifying thread seems to be the facilitation of emotional growth and well-being. Some programs intentionally build emotional growth while other it is incidental.
Although there is much research with successful results showing increased self esteem and a shift of locus of control there is much research that still needs to be done. Questions like why? and for how long do the positive effects last? need answering to design better programs that address the issues of at-risk youth.
Berman, D. S., & Davis-German, J. L. (1995). Outdoor education and troubled youth. Charleston, WV: ERIC Clearinghouse on Rural Education and Small Schools. (ERIC Document Reproduction Service No. ED 385 425).
Cross, R. (2002). The Effects of an Adventure Education Program on Perceptions of Alienation and Personal Control Among At-Risk Adolescents. The Journal of Experimental Education. 25, (1), 247-254.
Cohen, M. J. (1995). Reconnecting With Nature (ERIC Document Reproduction Service).
Davis-Berman, J. L., & Berman, D. (2000). Adventure therapy with adolescents. In L. VanderCreek (Ed.), Innovations in clinical practice: A courcebook, Col. 18. Sarasota, FL: Professionsl Resource Press.
Kallusky, J. P. (1997). Constructing an urban sanctary for at-risk youthin physical education: An artistically crafted action research project in an inner-city high school. Unpublished doctoral dissertation,University of Northern Colorado, Greeley.
Krlly, F. J., 7 Baer, D. J. (1968). Outward Bound Schools as an alternative to instruction for adolescents delinquent boys. Boston: Fandel.
Lappin, E. (2003). Outdoor Education for Behavior Disordered Students. (ERIC Document Reproduction Service).
Pommier, J. H., & Witt, P.A. (1995). Evaluation of an outward Bound school plus family training program for juvenile status offenders. Therapeutic Recreation Journal, 2, 86-103.
Stich, T. F., & Gaylor, M. S. (1963). Outward Bound: An innovative patient education program. (ERIC Document Reproduction Service No. ED 247 047).
Weston, R., & Tinsley, H. (1999). Wilderness Adventure Therapy for At-Risk Youth. Parks and Recreation. July, 30-38.