40 Years On: Just how life changing are school expeditions?

Allison, Pete, Stott, Tim and Palmer, Clive orcid iconORCID: 0000-0001-9925-2811 (2021) 40 Years On: Just how life changing are school expeditions? Journal of Outdoor Recreation, Education, and Leadership, 13 (3). pp. 4-20. ISSN 2381-0696

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Research in outdoor education and more specifically on wilderness expeditions has almost exclusively focused on short-term benefits (<5yrs) despite their findings suggesting
these are “life-changing” experiences. This study examined long-term outcomes (40 years later) of three (month-long) adventurous school expeditions to mainland Europe, by staff and pupils from a high school (11- to 16-year-olds) in Scotland in the 1970s. The investigation was initiated by a call for life stories from 45 participants, followed by 10 interviews at a school reunion. The interviews revealed a transference of learning qualities attributed to the expedition, indicating a long-term impact on participants’ personal and/or professional lives, with individuals still drawing upon their expedition experiences some 40 years later. Significant themes emerging were planning and preparation, confidence, and feelings of gratefulness, which led to participants wanting to undertake service that contributes back into society for young peoples’ benefit. This study adds to the knowledge of long-range educational outcomes from school expeditions.

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