Values education can be facilitated and the lessons significantly magnified with challenging outdoor adventure activities. Involving youth in outdoor actives such as swimming, kayaking, canoeing and rafting, ropes courses, climbing/rappelling, hiking, and even cave exploring sets a perfect stage for values education. There is, however, a caution that must be an absolute and uncompromised prerequisite. You must have the proper number of adults for the size of your group with the proper training, expertise and considerable qualifications, experience, and certification in leading these activities. Of equal importance, the participating youth must be pre-qualified for having the parental approval, health, physical ability, and requisite skills and age necessary for participation. Remember: be concerned about SAFETY first, last, and always!
With organizing, planning and facilitation, outdoor activities afford the opportunity for valuable lessons in acquiring the skills and values necessary for teamwork, problem solving, building trust, and decision making for the good of all constituents. Challenging outdoor experiences in an adventure context builds self-esteem and offers practical experience in leading and following.
Youthful participants can observe the characteristics of successful leadership and/or “followership” in these adventure challenges, and with proper oversight, be involved in the decision-making and execution of the resulting plan of action. This approach teaches the importance of doing your share because others are dependant on you, accepting full ownership of what is required, and doing it to the best of your ability for the benefit of all. Thus, delegating a “teamwork share” of the Responsibility is an excellent way to teach youth to contribute by taking their share of “ownership” of the action plan. It also helps them grow and develop teamwork and leadership skills in the process.
Old Kia Kima and later KKSR had a rich tradition of using these challenging outdoor adventure activities as a backdrop, learning catalyst, and magnifier for teaching Values. In the process, they also afforded a rich opportunity for developing teamwork, leadership skills, enhancing interpersonal skills, and engaging in and learning group problem solving skills. When the character education of our youth is moved from the classroom to the outdoors, not only do they acquire new skills and abilities, they gain immensely from enhanced self-confidence. Most importantly, they learn to trust and believe in themselves, and their newly acquired skills and abilities propel them into a willingness to take on new goals and life challenges.