Adventure Mind 2022 conference

Find out how we can embed impact through adventure learning in Dr John Allan's keynote presentation.

Adventure Mind 2022 was held at Kingswood’s Dearne Valley centre, formerly the Earth Centre, last November. This fascinating conference explored the importance of adventure to wellbeing, performance and mental health. Keynote presenters included Kingswood’s Head of Learning and Impact, Dr John Allan, who delivered a presentation about understanding and embedding impact through adventure learning. In his talk, John described how we can evaluate the outcomes of adventure learning, carry on the impact long-term, and embed the impacts into what we do.

Watch John’s talk here with a summary of his key points below.

Adventure Mind 2022

Summary of key learning

  • Governing bodies, funding organisations and the people we work for rely on evidence more than ever before.
  • Evidence comes in many forms including data, photographic evidence, narratives etc. with Kingswood’s confidence tracker described as a very useful tool to measure the present and long-term gains of outdoor adventure.
  • To successfully embed change, we must understand who is influential in a person’s life from a social, personal and institutional level. This is where the input from schools and the impact of a teacher’s involvement in a young person’s outdoor adventure makes a huge difference. Read more about teaching with transfer in mind here
  • A ‘rope of resilience’ is a useful way of describing how adaptable we are to circumstances that change beyond our control. The thicker the rope, the easier a young person will cope when faced with a ‘knot’ in the rope. Adventure learning helps us create a solution-focused approach to challenges that arise.
  • The components of adventure learning can’t just be about the outcomes, it’s the process that counts as it’s the only thing we can manipulate and influence.
  • Building a completely bespoke adventure learning programme that speaks a school’s language, and applies directly to the needs of a group, will have greater outcomes as it embeds their goals, objectives and hypothesis.
  • Adventure learning is so powerful, as it’s been proven that the higher the feeling of emotion the greater the memory. Therefore, the learning lasts.
  • We build programmes that offer high support and high challenge. The two most important variables when encouraging young people to expand their comfort zones.  
  • Failure is a good thing as the brain loves learning from mistakes. Learning from avoiding failure has little impact. Learning by doing and nurturing risk taking really makes all the difference.
  • Wilful self-watching is a useful diarising exercise. It’s a way to identify and label the ‘cogs’ in our lives; what and who is influential? And with guidance, this can be used as a way to improve wellbeing.
  • Fostering young people’s ideas and encouraging self-evaluation is really empowering and helps embed longer-lasting change.
  • Following a study that measured different conditions of outdoor learning including organised programmes, the sharpest increase in resilience came from trips that were tailor-made and bespoke. Kingswood will soon be launching a Skills Builder programme that speaks the same language as schools and completely focuses on skills and desired learning outcomes.
  • John sheds light on the ‘black box of adventure processes’ and the brain dynamic. The brain develops through hands-on interaction with the physical world, which makes outdoor adventure even more powerful.
  • In today’s world, emotional intelligence is much more appealing to employers than IQ. It is something to be invested in and nurtured at a young age.

Photography credit: Greg Childs