Doing the plastic fantastic: ‘artificial’ adventure and older adult climbers

Hickman, Mark Timothy, Stokes, P, Beard, C and Inkster, Allison orcid iconORCID: 0000-0002-7345-7015 (2019) Doing the plastic fantastic: ‘artificial’ adventure and older adult climbers. Journal of Adventure Education and Outdoor Learning, 19 (2). pp. 172-182. ISSN 1472-9679

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The aim of this article is to determine the perceptions and experiences of climbing at artificial climbing walls (ACWs) as undertaken by a cohort of ‘young-old’ people (approximately 65–75 years). The engagement of older people in outdoor activities and adventure is an evolving topic; however, as part of this development, little has been written on the use of ACWs. Methodologically, the research employed in-depth semi-structured focus groups and interviews with a purposive convenience sample of six recreational climbers, subsequently expanded to ten through snowball technique. Both sexes were equally represented. Manual thematic analysis identified two key motifs: ACWs and the notion of adventure, and ACWs and the potential for learning. The findings point at what constitutes ‘real’ adventure for this group of older adults; the shifting nature of ‘old age’; the significance of self-awareness; and the role of reflexivity and physical activity in the construction of a ‘successful’ old age.

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