One of the things we really enjoy about our ‘people’ blog posts is that along with the reader, we also get to know the people we work with better! This week we are sharing the words of Gemma, one of our POET Programme Coordinators:

I’m a first generation New Zealander having spent my early childhood in the Netherlands. Even then my fondest (and not so fond) memories are of outside. Fond is the huge cherry tree in our yard and making mud pies in the sandpit, not so fond having my front teeth knocked out by big bro riding a bike around the village rotunda because I was impatiently insisting on my turn! Trees turn out to be one of my favourite things I also remember almost giving my mother a heart attack when she looked up after I’d called out from the top of a 100 ft tall pine tree. (Things are way bigger when you’re little right?) Heights still don’t bother me. However dark, small spaces aren’t my happy place. Caving is one activity that stretches me – not the climbing up and down ropes and ladders but going through those squeezes.

Getting into the outdoors exploring places, challenging myself and absorbing all that ‘Vitamin N’ is what energises me.

‘Being’ and ‘doing’ in the outdoors seems to generate similar reactions in many of the young people I work with. Connecting with others, with their inner self and with the outdoors through outdoor education experiences, seems to nourish and energise them too.

Where are we going with outdoor education? Of late we have debated about the pros and cons of using technology in the outdoors. Outdoor clothing and equipment technology helps us adventure more efficiently and safely – great! Being able to stay connected to people who share the experience from their couch, being distracted from where they are and who they are with by their digital devices, not so great. If you didn’t photograph it, record it, share it on facebook or instagram it – did it happen? And for whom and what are we getting into the outdoors for?

I see the future of young people in the outdoors not necessarily being technology free but certainly technology sparse. For me if we are to see a more sustainable way of living into the future all people being positively connected to the people and environments that nourish them – in person – is critical. Outdoor education continues to be a great place to nurture those connections.

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