All praise for the playground

Posted on May 19, 2011

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This morning I was on Dubai Eye, along with James Russell, designer-extraordinaire and Pete Aldwinckle, of Global Climbing for a chat with Suzanne Radford re Outdoor UAE magazine.

I write a monthly column called Adventure Chicks and Pete is a regular contributor re all things climbing-related. Pete is the Ruler of RAK when it comes to scaling rocks.

We spent a very quick hour chatting about getting outdoors in the UAE and all the various sport and adventure opportunities on our doorstep.

Time flew and we touched on a fraction of what we could have done but conversation resumed afterwards at Caribou and Pete raised the question …

What is adventure?

and shared the answer …

A risky undertaking of unknown outcome.

An adventure then can come in all shapes and sizes. It needn’t be related to hair-raising adrenaline-filled activity upside down or way up high. It just needs to be …

  • a risky undertaking … which relates to the journey
  • and of an unknown outcome … which relates to the destination

But the adventure can be sport-related, work-related, hobby-related, even relationship-related …. in fact, on these terms you can even say getting married is quite the adventure (no reference to personal circumstance intended!)

On these grounds, adventure then is surely the ultimate in experiential learning … which can only result in positive self growth and improved self-esteem.

A little bit of research later and it transpires there is even such thing as Adventure Therapy i.e. using adventure as an approach to healing. This approach can be traced back in history across various cultures. In the early 1900’s for example, psychiatric patients were often moved from their hospital wards to tents on the lawns outside. Known as Tent Therapy, the patients showed remarkable improvement.

In the same vein, in the 1940’s, Outward Bound programmes were invented by a guy called Lawrence Holt who was part owner of a shipping company. He invented the concept as a response to many of his young sailors who had lost their tenacity and fortitude to survive the rigours of war and shipwreck.

So there you have it. It seems adventures are not just an escape from the confines of work or the chance to be let-loose fancy-free without consideration beyond the next step.

Rather they play an important role in our lives, a chance to focus our thinking and to learn about challenge and perceived risk, an opportunity to improve social skills via teamwork and leadership and a platform to improve our self efficacy, confidence and courage, attitude and problem solving skills.

On that note I’m off in search of further adventure in my life. All in the name of learning of course.

The world is your playground so get out there and climb the highest frame or seek the highest swing. You never know when the bell might ring so don’t leave it until it’s too late!

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