Today, whilst out walking I had a wee realisation. I realised how brave my outdoor education teachers were when I was at high school.
We had an 2 amazing teachers, Des Rubens and Dave Flint. Both were amazing. Both dedicated their lives to working at Craigroyston High School in Edinburgh. The school was in an area of huge deprivation. It was the drugs capital of Europe for a time. I am sure educators can imagine the type of behaviour issues he would face. Mr Rubens was a mountaineer and outdoor learning teacher. Mr Flint a biology teacher, canoeist and skier, so both were used to overcoming huge hurdles!
Mr Rubens took us canoeing, abseiling, hill walking and more. For most of us, this was the only way we would experience such things as kids. Mr Flint ran the canoe and skiing after school clubs, making both sports accessible and affordable to us all.
Today though, I realised the real freedom they gave us. They trusted us. A real rabble of kids. They trusted us to stay safe, to look after each other and not vanish. They trusted us in the outdoors and they afforded us space.
Today whilst walking in Beecraigs Country Park, a place Mr Rubens would often take us to for either orienteering or cross country skiing, I realised the freedom he allowed us.
I stumbled over an orienteering marker.
It brought back the memories of heading out into the park, us all heading our separate directions in groups of 2 or 3 came rushing back. There was no way he could have watched us all at once. But he trusted us to stay on task and explore.
He trusted us.
So, how does that apply to outdoor learning now? Well, I guess I generally trust the classes and groups I work with. Whether that is trusting them with equipment, in a large area or using knives and fire, I trust them.
And do you know, rarely do they betray that trust. We have worked with some really challenging groups (I hate that phrase!) but they never let us down.
Often times, when you trust your group or class they respect that and appreciate it.
It can be hard to to, it can be scary, but it can give you amazing rewards.
Had Mr Rubens and Mr Flint not given me the amazing experiences and not trusted us outdoors as children, would I have become the teacher and outdoor practitioner I am now? I doubt it. They really were one in a million.