In 2035 every 18 year old will be an ‘Outdoor Citizen’
There were 755,000 births in the UK in 2017. The Outdoor Citizens campaign aims for these children to live, learn and play outside so that by the time they are 18, in 2035, they have become true Outdoor Citizens - able to co-exist with nature, understand their surroundings and reap the benefits of an outdoor lifestyle.
Outdoor Citizens have respect for the outdoors. They have the knowledge and skills to both protect the natural environment and to personally thrive within it. They are adults who have experienced outdoor adventures throughout their childhood and understand how to manage risk and challenge. Their academic success has been aided by the impact of effective outdoor learning.
Outdoor Citizens are future parents who know that outdoor education is a must have for their own children. They are connected to nature in a way that benefits their physical and mental well-being. They are equipped to address the challenges facing the natural world - in their community, across the country and around the world.
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About the campaign
‘Outdoor Citizens’ is an ambitious campaign committed to ensuring every childhood is packed with nature, adventure and the outdoors. An entitlement for all - not an extra for the few.
The evidence that being outdoors has a positive impact on the individual, on communities and on the environment is overwhelming. As is the data that shows us engagement in outdoor learning is inequitable. Those who would potentially benefit the most from outdoor experiences access them the least.
The Outdoor Citizens campaign is the result of years of co-operation between leaders in the outdoor sector. It is a shared commitment to an evidence informed programme of work that will ensure that the 750,000 four-year olds entering reception classes in September 2022 will be guaranteed high quality outdoor learning throughout their school life and through a rich set of family, youth work and community experiences.
Outdoor Citizens are not created through one offs
One residential or one morning counting butterflies or one climb of a mountain are powerful, inspirational and developmental activities. But they alone are not enough.
The Outdoor Citizens model is for progressive experiences from birth to adulthood that build on each other to develop knowledge, skills and familiarity with the outdoors. School – as one of the few places of universal entitlement – is of course a core part of how that progression framework should be delivered. And a large part of the Outdoor Citizen Campaign will focus on supporting schools to offer high quality outdoor learning based on what we know works in teacher CPD, effective pedagogy and school improvement.
But schools cannot, and should not, be alone in this. Informal learning and family and individual experiences are a vital part of the offer and we are delighted to have so many youth work and parent organisations engaged in the Campaign.
Our approach has been tested through partners and academics over the last 6 months and we are now testing this as part of a whole school intervention. There will be things missing and areas to develop - and changes will emerge through discussions and practice.
We will be supporting schools to deliver both wider learning through the outdoors and to consider outdoor learning as a curriculum in its own right. This is not easy. But we have been overwhelmed by the schools and organisations that are open to the challenge.
Our research with schools and parents has been clear. There appears to be no lack of great resources that schools can draw from.
Schools have been clear in their feedback: funding is an issue; activities must fit the contemporary school context; and support is needed to use the existing resources in a way that that allows learning to progress over a child’s life in school.
Also, parents have asked what they can do with children outdoors in a low cost way and with a focus on how they manage risk.
Who is behind Outdoor Citizens?
Outdoor Citizens is hosted by the Outdoor Council and draws on the networks of Council for Learning Outside the Classroom and over 1000 organisations and individuals who provide high-quality outdoor activities and opportunities for children, young people and families, including: