Living Simply, Outdoor Education, Travel Tips & Ideas

15 Proven Benefits of Outdoor Education – Part 1

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Snorkelling off Pink Beach, Flores (near Komodo Island), Indonesia

This is the first part of a three-part post on the benefits of outdoor education.

With classrooms being  ‘classes in rooms’, it can often mean that a young person spends the majority of their day surrounded by four walls, desks, chairs and screens. Time outside of this may be sport, music, dance, drama but apart from sport the rest are indoors, and even sport can be indoors (albeit active). What a young person loses is the time to be outdoors – to smell, to walk, to play, to touch, to climb, to stumble, to jump, to swing, to fall over and get up. In other words, to soak up being outdoors and just ‘being’ in the space and time of the outdoors.

So what are the benefits of outdoor education?

1. Better grades

Real life chess in Marostica, Italy

This is probably the number one sticking point for parents is that their child is spending less time learning and they are just ‘on camp’. Fortunately, the science shows that outdoor education in fact improves a students grades. Research from Dennis Eaton the author of Cognitive and Effective Learning in Outdoor Education finds that the cognitive abilities of students develop better outside the classroom rather than in. In fact, the science suggests that students who are regularly involved in outdoor education have marked improvements in the basic skills of reading, writing and math.

2. Increased motivation

Learning to scuba drive (aged 12 on the left) of Mengangan Island, Indonesia.

After spending time outdoors, science has shown that students’ motivation levels carry over into indoor learning. Being in the outdoors is a powerful as it tugs at a young persons senses. They can focus on detail and describe something far better when outdoors than indoors. However, this also carries over into the classroom after time spent on an outdoor education program.

The physical change of pace and place that happens when outdoors is motivating in itself. Everyone needs variety.

3. Better health and fitness

I’m not talking about health and fitness in the realms of becoming  fit young people. I’m talking about the fact that students are up and about. Moving around, walking, exploring – participating in what was traditionally the normal 50 years ago. With this comes a factor in the reduction of childhood obesity. As Author Richard Louv states “the harmful effects on kids of too much indoor overstimulation, including attention deficit disorder, anxiety, depression and obesity. As young people spend less of their lives in natural surroundings, their senses narrow, physiologically and psychologically and by allowing them to stay indoors denies them the fundamental part of being a young person.

4. Less stress

Time to chill, connect, decompress

The brain produces something called ‘the happy hormone’ also known as serotonin. There are a number of ways of releasing serotonin such as listening to music, receiving praise and hearing the sounds of nature. Being outdoors, triggers the serotonin to be stimulated and up their happy hormone.

5. How can you care about something if you don’t understand it?

Imagine that a mining company wants to dig out your land for coal or a hydro electricity company wants to dam up the local valley to produce power. If you’ve had a connection with these places, you’ll want to protect them. That’s why you see protesters at rally’s. They have a connection with what’s going on, value it and want to protect it. Knowledge is power, so understanding what will happen by educating yourself means you’re more likely to have compassion for what’s going on.

It helps to develop a relationship with the environment. By experiencing the great outdoors, students will learn to respect, appreciate, and enjoy what nature has to offer us. It helps them to see themselves in a global context, developing an awareness of the importance of sustainability of the world’s natural resources.

My daughters (second from left and far right) at airport as my eldest heads off to volunteer in Thailand as a midwife

Our relationship with the environment is a key issue facing tomorrow’s citizens.

Active learning and adventure outdoors introduces young people to the environment in a way which develops understanding appreciation, awe, wonder and respect. It fosters sensitivity to the environment, helps young people to see themselves in a global context and helps to develop citizens with an awareness of the need for sustainable use of the world’s natural resources.

Read Part 2 and Part 3 by clicking on the links 7 days after this post.

Part 2

Part 3

Now it’s your chance. What benefits have you seen from outdoor education? Leave a comment below.

Explore & Inspire, Markets, Op Shops, Secondhand

Wonga Park Farmers’ Market – Wonga Park

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This was only the second time that the market ran and already they’ve found their mojo. Based out of the 120 year old Wonga Park Primary School, this Farmers’ Market has taken a proactive stance in having quality growers and suppliers showcasing and selling their wares.

With so much fresh local produce on offer, it is a culinary delight to explore the produce and chat with the growers and makers.  (more…)

Explore & Inspire, Markets, Op Shops, Secondhand

Lions Opportunity Shop – Warrandyte

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The Warrandyte Lions Club Opportunity Shop is located smack in the centre of town and therefore, attracts a lot of locals and tourists, particularly over the weekend.

Although the store isn’t large, it’s well laid out and there is plenty of stock to sift through. All clothes appear to be clean, well hung and put in size order which works for me.


Explore & Inspire, Markets, Op Shops, Secondhand

Bellarine Community Farmer’s Market – Ocean Grove

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My local Ocean Grove friend brought me here as we are big fans of markets, garage sales, secondhand stores and op shops. She knows I love a Farmers Market so off we trotted. Clearly this market is in its infancy but off to a good start.

This is a ‘produce only’ market with the main aim to bring together local farmers, community gardens, backyard growers and producers to provide fresh food and produce direct to the public. Centralising this at Ocean Grove seems to have paid off.


Explore & Inspire, Markets, Op Shops, Secondhand

Southbank Market – Melbourne

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This market has been running for a number of years and it’s all about handmade, homemade and for some stallholders – upcycled. The quality of the local art and crafts is of a high calibre and take the time to speak to the designers as they often have a great tale to tell.

Whether you’re after a hat for the races, handbag, jewellery, artwork, gift cards or more, the Southbank Market showcases some f the best local Melbourne artistic talent.