Why Outdoor Education is Such an Important Part of the High School Experience

Outdoor-Education-Expedition_IM198637With outdoor education, the world is your child’s classroom. Far beyond the four walls of a traditional class, students with outdoor learning integrated into their curriculum become immersed in all the natural world has to offer – broadening their perspectives on their surroundings, their studies, and their own personal skill-sets.

Pitching tents, starting fires, and acquiring wilderness first aid skills might not be part of the everyday high school experience. But for students in some of today’s top educational institutions, outdoor learning is an integral part of their studies, offering them both for-credit and extracurricular opportunities for adventure.

Curious about what the great outdoors can offer high schoolers here in Canada? Read on.

1. Outdoor Education Strengthens a Child’s Self-Confidence and Self-Esteem

There is substantial research to suggest that outdoor adventure programs positively impact young people’s self-perception: their understandings of their own personal strengths, limitations, and the value they bring to a team.

Outdoor activities provide great alternative, non-competitive atmospheres to the traditional academic environment. Students can achieve non-academic yet similarly useful and valuable skills like independence, self-reliance, and confidence. And the collaboration often involved in outdoor activities, such as rowing or cooking, gives students valuable experience working together in teams within a framework of safety and support.

LCS students practise their paddling skills while setting-off on an outdoor education overnight trip

The right independent high school for your child will know that skills in leadership, communication, problem-solving, and decision-making come from outdoor experiences like these, where students face challenges and grow together.

2. Canada has a Long Tradition of Outdoor Exploration

Exploration and adventure have a strong place in Canadian history and heritage. After all, our nation as we know it was founded by explorers and is known worldwide for spectacular natural wonders like Niagara Falls, the Rocky Mountains, and all the diversity that comes with our vast national landscape.

A private high school experience in Canada would be incomplete without integrating this rich and unique natural backdrop into students’ education. Lessons in Canadian history, geography, and culture are deeply enriched through outdoor education. For example, an outdoor campfire in a tipi on the LCS campus set the perfect backdrop for the students’ recent lesson on traditional environmentalism, for which they welcomed leaders from Trent’s Mohawk and Ojibwe communities.

LCS outdoor education
LCS students learn about Canadian Aboriginal culture in a traditional outdoor setting

3. Relationships with Nature Promote Physical and Mental Health

Through regular outdoor education, students can take advantage of the noted health benefits garnered from exposure and access to green spaces. As the OPENspace Research Centre puts it:

“Physical activity in the natural environment not only aids an increased life-span, fewer symptoms of depression, and lower rates of smoking and substance misuse, but also an increased ability to function better at work and at home.”

Your child spends most of their academic life in the classroom, but well-rounded secondary schools recognize the invaluable benefits that fresh air and nature can offer to each student’s personal wellbeing.

4. Outdoor Learning Creates Memorable Educational Experiences

At great Canadian high schools like LCS, students are given plenty of opportunities to apply their classroom lessons to broader environments – making memories to last a lifetime in the process.

LCS students and their trip leaders on a global learning expedition in Iceland
LCS students and their trip leaders on a global learning expedition in Iceland

In outdoor environments where students are called upon to face challenges firsthand, they engage in active learning that has been proven to endure in the long-term. It’s a great opportunity to apply cross-functional knowledge acquired in the classroom in unique ways that deepen understanding. Lessons learned and applied in exciting new environments help students build lasting memories and deeper understandings of the world around them, and inspire senses of adventure to last a lifetime.

Are you interested in learning more about a private high school in Canada that values outdoor education?

Visit Lakefield College School for more information about the unique benefits our programs can offer your child.