A recent Australian study shows teenagers exposed to outdoor education programs develop real life skills that give them a huge advantage over others as they transition into adult life.The study, commissioned by Cranbrook School in Sydney, is the first to follow a group of students who attend four Outward Bound courses as part of their mandatory high school curriculum from Year 7 to 10. "It shows young people taken from the comfort of their homes learn to be self reliant fast in wilderness conditions. They also learn to take responsibility, work in teams, and accept the consequences of their own actions. Their life skills grow with every year, and by their final outdoor experience they are significantly more confident, capable and stable than students who did not participate. They are also far better prepared to initiate, motivate, and lead in later life." The study, led by Dr. James Neill from the University of Canberra, used a variety of measures to assess changes in leadership and other social skills impacted by an ongoing Outward Bound experience.
Experts agree than any outdoor education is better than none. Similar research techniques have been used to measure the effect of short courses – some less than a week - provided by others in the industry – all of which show students developing positive life skills. The Cranbrook Study shows that the benefits are multiplied if students take part in more than one outdoor education course throughout their school years.
You can download a PDF copy of the full report from Outward Bound Australia.