SOAR­ING SPIRIT OF AD­VEN­TURE

Once head­ing for the rocks, Out­ward Bound has a fresh wind in its sails. Ed Douglas re­ports

The Daily Telegraph - Saturday - - Front Page -

I t has been quite a week for Year 12 from Mid­dles­brough’s Macmil­lan Academy. Yes­ter­day, they were strug­gling in the teeth of a gale to reach the sum­mit of Dol­ly­wagon Pike in the Lake Dis­trict. To­day, they are gath­ered around a class­room ta­ble in the Out­ward Bound cen­tre at Ull­swa­ter, look­ing shat­tered as their group leader, Martin Bar­ratt, guides them through a dis­cus­sion of an ar­gu­ment two of them had high on Dol­ly­wagon. Why did they feel so strongly at that point, he won­ders, and what lessons can be learned to avoid fu­ture con­fronta­tion?

Sally, sprawled in her chair with an ex­pres­sion of per­fect sour­ness on her face, has no doubts. “Don’t climb a moun­tain,” she says, to much laugh­ter. Then some­thing rather amaz­ing starts to hap­pen. De­spite their ex­haus­tion, the young­sters in the group rouse them­selves to an­a­lyse with sur­pris­ing emo­tional ma­tu­rity the dra­mas of the pre­vi­ous day.

As part of their dis­cus­sion, each of the nine stu­dents in Bar­ratt’s group takes turns to leave the room while the oth­ers dis­cuss his or her strengths and how to im­prove them. “Big” Tom (as op­posed to a fel­low stu­dent called “Good” Tom) is ad­mired for tak­ing the con­tents of strug­glers’ ruck­sacks and putting them in his own, with­out prompt­ing from a teacher or in­struc­tor. But the group feels Big Tom should be more forth­right in ar­tic­u­lat­ing his ideas, rather than go­ing along with the ma­jor­ity.

Big Tom is called back and told th­ese ob­ser­va­tions. He smiles shyly.

Slog­ging up moun­tains in Cum­bria in the rain in a bright red cagoule may seem old­school in an era of ubiq­ui­tous elec­tronic en­ter­tain­ment and para­noia about the safety of chil­dren, but the pen­du­lum shows signs of swing­ing back. Out­door learn­ing ini­tia­tives (such as the For­est Schools) are grow­ing in pop­u­lar­ity. And the run­away suc­cess of The Dan­ger­ous Book for Boys shows how many of us yearn for a more ro­bust and nat­u­ral up­bring­ing for our chil­dren. Television, too, has been quick to cash in, with shows such as Boot Camp and even I’m A Celebrity…

Kurt Hahn, the cel­e­brated ed­u­ca­tion­al­ist who co-

Joy of the great out­doors: an Out­ward Bound stu­dent at Ull­swa­ter in the Lake Dis­trict

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