“The Outdoor Council of Canada has been a supportive partner to our school division by way of providing opportunities for teachers to access Field Leader training and exploring the development of Field Teams, committing to ongoing collaboration in assisting in the review of procedures pertaining to outdoor activity risk management, and contributing expertise to the dialogue around enhancing and promoting quality, outcome-focused outdoor learning for all students.”
-Colleen Lee, Coordinator, Canadian Rockies Outdoor Learning Centre, Canadian Rockies Public Schools
Objectives of the OAS
We know that well-executed experiential and inquiry based learning in natural environments is a powerful way of improving the academic performance and health of students. Students exposed to quality outdoor programming achieve more, are better prepared for post-school life, more likely to graduate, and less likely to exhibit delinquent behaviour.
Ideally, these programs will be provided by the students’ regular teachers. These are the people who are best positioned to get the best out of each student, and employing in-house staff minimizes costs.
A teacher with Field Leader training is well prepared to lead their students into low-risk terrain. The training also empowers teachers who might not otherwise consider taking their class outside to learn. Risk managers can be confident that the chance of a student becoming seriously injured is extremely low since OCC defined low-risk terrain is inherently safe*.
For some programs all the educational objectives can and should be achieved in low-risk terrain, but OCC defined low-risk terrain is too limited for a quality physical activity program. These activities require access to slightly more risky, but still very safe, terrain. In addition, the full power of the Field Leader training will not be realized unless the teacher is embedded in a work environment that provides the full level of support required to help them develop as field leaders.
The ‘Outdoor Active Schools’ initiative will complete the Field Leader Program by developing the final components required to ensure that teachers receive the organizational support they need to provide outdoor programing of the highest quality with the level of safety that is required. Key deliverables of the initiative are:
- A comprehensive risk management template that harnesses the strengths of Field Leader training to ensure consistently high-quality low-risk delivery of educational programs.
- ‘Field Team Leader’ training and certification program that will enable one or more teachers on the team to take a lead role in ensuring the team functions effectively in the present and is a ‘learning team’ that grows in its ability to offer both quality and safety.
The Outdoor Active Schools Initiative is being developed with partners in the K-12 school system so as to ensure the end products are fully compatible with the realities and constraints of public and private schools and the people who work and study in them .
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* In this context 'inherently safe' means that serious physical injuries are much less common in this OCC defined low-risk terrain than in traditional sporting activities.
“The OCC Field Leader course was presented to my group of parent and alumni volunteers for my mastery level outdoor ed. class[…] The FL course brought to light the significance of planning, preparation and communication. The participants commented to me that they have a new appreciation for the rigors of outdoor ed. experiences, the commitment required to ensure safe and successful travel and a new willingness and interest to bring their hiking and personal trip planning to a new level.
I am looking forward to taking more classes in future!”
-Jason Lindsay, Teacher