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Building Resilience in High School Students  

March 29, 2023

Outdoor Activities Building Resilience in High School Students  

Entering secondary school can be a particularly challenging time for young adults. A time shaped by academic pressure, making new friends, bullying, increased responsibilities and hormonal changes. Developing resilience in this period of life can help young adults navigate these challenges and succeed around fellow peers.

While some individuals may be naturally more resilient than others, resilience is a life skill and a dynamic quality that can be developed at any age. It is particularly important during childhood and adolescence. Resilience can help school students navigate their colliding academic and personal lives. While in an even larger, worldly sense, it can become a valuable quality to help students adapt to changing situations. From social disruption to climate change, resilience encourages the youth to keep going and keep trying, even when times get tough.

Outdoor adventure activities have proved to be a significant way of practising and building resilience for this age group. Research in a study published by the Journal of Adventure Education and Outdoor Learning found that participation in a wilderness-based expedition program improved resilience and emotional well-being in young adults. Similarly, a study published in the Journal of Experiential Education found that participation in outdoor adventure programs improved resilience and self-efficacy in at-risk youth.


Outdoor adventure activities can provide individuals with valuable opportunities.

Six major opportunities to build resilience include:


  1. Facing physical challenges

Outdoor activities often involve physical challenges that can push individuals out of their comfort zones and require them to adapt to changes in their environment or their physical abilities. Through facing these challenges and overcoming them, individuals can build physical and mental resilience, as well as improve their self-confidence and sense of achievement.


  1. Working in teams

Outdoor adventure activities often require individuals to work in teams or partnerships, which can also foster resilience by promoting communication, cooperation, and problem-solving skills. These experiences can help individuals learn how to navigate conflict and work together to overcome obstacles, building resilience both individually and as part of a group.


  1. Adapting to changes & fronting unexpected circumstances

Outdoor adventure activities often require individuals to face unexpected challenges and navigate difficult situations, such as adverse weather conditions, physical limitations, or technical difficulties. By engaging in these activities, individuals are forced to adapt to change and develop resilience in order to overcome obstacles and achieve their goals.

For example, if someone is hiking and suddenly encounters a thunderstorm, they may need to quickly adjust their plans and seek shelter. By doing so, they are practising resilience and developing the ability to think on their feet and adapt to unexpected situations.

Similarly, if someone is rock climbing and encounters a challenging section of the route, they may need to use problem-solving skills and develop the confidence to push through their physical and mental limitations in order to reach the top. This can help build resilience and increase self-efficacy.


  1. Developing coping skills

Participating in outdoor activities can help individuals develop coping skills to deal with stress and anxiety. Physical activity has been shown to reduce stress and promote mental well-being.


  1. Fostering a growth mindset:

Engaging in challenging activities can help individuals develop a growth mindset, where they view challenges as opportunities for growth and learning rather than as obstacles to be avoided. It is also important to approach these activities with a focus on personal growth and development, rather than solely on the outcome or achievement of a specific goal. By adopting this mindset, individuals can cultivate resilience in all aspects of their lives, not just during outdoor adventure activities or in times of adversity.

There is no better time than high school to learn the importance of resilience, and how to essentially, become more resilient. The development of resilience is not limited to outdoor adventure activities but can also be practised and mastered through a variety of means. This could be mindfulness meditation, cognitive-behavioural therapy, and other forms of self-improvement and personal development. Schools can focus on teaching resilience in a variety of ways, depending on the interests and needs of their students.

Outdoor education is becoming more recognised in Australian schools through camps and excursions. Although schools may not carry the resources, knowledge or nature spaces to provide their students with fun and engaging outdoor learning.


 Building Resilience

Walkabout Creek Adventures and Riverlife Adventure Centre are two businesses operating in Brisbane that have designed school programs, especially for outdoor adventure and physical activity. They are designed to be stimulating for students, which can help to improve their motivation, enthusiasm, and overall enjoyment of the learning experience.

Walkabout Creek Adventures is an outdoor recreational facility located in the suburb of The Gap in Brisbane, Australia. It is part of the Walkabout Creek Discovery Centre, which is situated in the beautiful D’Aguilar National Park. Whereas Riverlife Adventure Centre is an outdoor recreational facility located on the banks of the Brisbane River, just a short walk from the central business district.

The school programs are developed in collaboration with educators to ensure that they align with the Australian Curriculum and support student learning outcomes. Activities such as kayaking, stand-up paddle boarding, bike riding and bushwalking are offered to experience the unique Brisbane outdoor settings.

Programs range from half-day activities to multi-day camps and are suitable for secondary school students as they are led by experienced and qualified instructors. A day at Riverlife could be viewed as a fun day out for a student, but become an educational and experiential learning opportunity for building resilience. It provides a vibrant environment to encourage outdoor education activities for students to participate eagerly.

For more information on school excursions, visit our Website

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