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As technology develops in today’s society, our relationship with it is replacing connection with the real world and specifically the outdoors. It is important for boys to stay connected to and immerse themselves in nature. Outdoor education programs, such as the Duke of Edinburgh Award, offer boys unique learning opportunities in distinctive and challenging landscapes.

Outdoor Education Programs

Some of our most memorable moments as we progress through our lives often come from those early mornings and warm evenings spent outdoors – surrounded by nature.

Put on your hiking shoes as we explore the elements that are involved in outdoor education programs, experiential learning, and why they are important for your son.

What is the Purpose of Outdoor Education?

As suggested by Simon Priest and Michael Gass, outdoor education centres around four program types:

  • Recreational programs are used to help change the way people feel. This is achieved through play, leisure, relaxation, fun and overall enjoyment. Examples of this include walks, hikes, surfing and canoeing for pleasure.
  • Educational programs focus on changing the way that we think, usually with the aim of learning a new skill in an unfamiliar environment.
  • Developmental programs are employed to mould the way individuals and groups work together. The program enhances personal growth by expanding goals and pushing personal limits of endurance to increase self-discipline and self-esteem.
  • Therapeutic programs can transform the way people think, feel and behave. They help redirect an individual’s negative or anti-social traits towards positive thinking and community mindedness to help build communities of collaborative leaders.

Outdoor education is most beneficial for boys when they are stationed in a place that is different to their typical environment and designed around one of the above four program types.

More often than not, the experiences of camps and outdoor education are felt immediately, and have the tendency to resonate with boys for years. Not only are unforgettable memories made but other long-term benefits are recognised, such as the Duke of Edinburgh Award giving school leavers a leg up into the workplace.

The Duke of Edinburgh Award

The Duke of Edinburgh Award is a youth development program for people aged 14 to 25 and involves community service, physical recreation, and the learning of novel and unique skills in adventurous journeys including:

  • Exploring the natural world – flora, fauna, erosion, geology and coastal studies
  • Exploring river valleys, plant studies and exploring human impact
  • Carrying out health surveys or health education in remote areas
  • Completing a demanding journey by foot, cycle, canoe or kayak
  • Kayaking an entire navigable stretch of a river
  • An extensive sail across an ocean
  • Climbing mountainous peaks
  • Cycling from one part of a country to another
  • Undertaking a challenging journey in an urban environment

The Duke of Edinburgh Award is all encompassing and places emphasis on challenging activities. The Award has been designed and is proven to be a very powerful youth development tool. It plays a relevant part in the development of young bodies and minds, in a way that is valuable to the individual, the community and the workplace.

What are the Benefits of Outdoor Education?

In short, outdoor education gives your son a chance to connect with nature while also learning new skills. Scots boys in Year 9 attend Glengarry, our unique outdoor education campus, where they spend two terms living with other students and learning a range of new skills, while also completing the Year 9 curriculum.

Through outdoor education, boys develop a real sense of self, learn how to be resilient and self-reliant, while also learning how to live with others. Through spending time in nature, boys have the chance to strive, relax, learn and grow, all in a less formal setting than a classroom.

Glengarry is an experience many Scots boys look back on fondly. To find out why, and to learn more about our Glengarry Program and outdoor education, download our Glengarry brochure.

The Scots College is a proud member of the following associations.

The Presbyterian Church (New South Wales) Property Trust T/A The Scots College, Sydney Australia
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William Elder


Mr Alan Elder was born in Scotland and migrated to Australia with his parents at a young age. He attended The Scots College for all his schooling, graduating in 1944. He played 1st XI Cricket and was a member of the College Cadet Unit. After leaving school Mr Elder studied accountancy and retained a life-long love of the College, especially the Pipes and Drums. Mr Elder never married, however the significant bequest he left will allow his Scots family to remember him through the Lang Walker Business Centre.