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New Zealanders Losing Touch With Great Outdoors


1 September 2005

New Zealanders Losing Touch With Great Outdoors

Young New Zealanders are rapidly losing touch with the great outdoors due largely to lack of time by parents and over heightened concerns about safety.

Outward Bound School Director – Anakiwa, Steve Hall, said as demand for Outward Bound courses continues to accelerate, the organisation had observed a decline in the number of young New Zealanders who have an understanding of and confidence in tackling the outdoors environment.

“We’ve become increasingly aware over the years that young people no longer have the right clothing these days to tackle the elements because they don’t own it and don’t know what’s required. Years ago this rarely ever happened because people owned the right apparel and, if they didn’t, they simply borrowed it from a relative or friend.”

Steve said while Outward Bound always equipped its students with the right clothing when they took part in a course, not having the appropriate apparel presented a safety issue.

“The fact that many young New Zealanders have little to no outdoors experience is a disheartening trend that needs to be addressed by parents, teachers and government officials.

Aside from lack of the right clothing, Outward Bound has also noticed a general trend towards parents sending their children on Outward Bound courses as their ‘once in a lifetime’ outdoors experience.

“Increased pressures on parents’ time and an often unwarranted over emphasis on safety has got people worried. Schools often feel uncomfortable and generally wary about planning outdoor education. While safety is always paramount, the accidents that do occur these days in the bush have sometimes been overstated creating an unnatural safety fear amongst parents and teachers.”

Steve said he believed young children have a natural interest in the outdoors from an early age.

“Unfortunately, limited educational focus in this area and lack of support by parents is simply ‘putting a lid’ on that enthusiasm.”

To curb that trend, Steve said parents should aim to take their children into the outdoors at least a couple of times a year.

“That’s all it takes to encourage a love and appreciation of the outdoors in children. New Zealand has some of the most stunning scenery and diverse natural environment in the world. To ignore that and not encourage an appreciation of it amongst New Zealanders is a great loss as it helps to cultivate greater understanding and a sense of value of the environment.

“New Zealand is a nation that was originally founded on that pioneering spirit and the challenges of battling the elements.

“Sharing outdoors experiences with friends and family can provide some of the most enduring memories for people. Furthermore, tackling the great outdoors builds up confidence and self esteem in young people and a self appreciation that they can set and achieve goals.”

Steve said businesses and government officials could also play a part by supporting and encouraging parents to head outdoors more often with their children.

“When it comes to Outward Bound and its ability to nurture a love of the outdoors, we’re reliant on the goodwill and generosity of New Zealanders and altruistic organisations that support the Trust.

“Initiatives like the Outward Bound cereal launched by Hubbard’s 10 years ago have played a key part in providing much needed funds to the Trust and keeping outdoors pursuits top of mind.”

Last year, Hubbard’s raised over $1 million in sponsorship funds for the Trust over a nine year period. This year, it marked a 10 year milestone with Outward Bound by launching new Outward Bound flavours to make it easier for people to support the Trust.

To date, sponsorship funds have provided valuable support to the Trust, through course scholarships to help people from all walks of life to complete Outward Bound courses. Funds have also been used to buy equipment such as kayaks and buses to transport students.

Beyond business support, Steve said New Zealanders could also help each other.

“New Zealand is today a very multicultural environment which means that a lot of people who live here have come from other countries and are generally unfamiliar with our natural outdoors environment. Kiwis who have lived here for many years can provide help in this area by providing support and advice to other ethnic groups.”


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