Teenagers exploring the world : their stories 10 to 18 years after : or what remains of an extended Outdoor Adventure Education sailing trip
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The aim of this study was to question the long-term impacts of Outdoor Adventure Education (OAE), a division of the currently regarded experiential education philosophy. 1000 Sabords, a project consisting of a six to eight month long sailing trip around the Atlantic Ocean, was used as subject of research. Nine individuals shared their stories through open-ended interviews, presenting their beliefs as to their experience and its impact on their lives 10 to 18 years after their involvement in the program. Narrative methods using both paradigmatic and narrative cognitions were used to analyse the discourses. Eleven common themes related to personal growth and additional effects emerged from the data. Moreover, the content of the interviews allowed going beyond the research questions by giving insight into components leading to outcomes, as well as the outcomes achievement mechanism. The overall findings suggest the experience is a significant event in the participants’ lives that positively and lastingly impacted them on personal, social and cognitive dimensions. Furthermore it acts today as a valuable reference in times of need. In conclusion, this study highlights that what gives meaningfulness to an OAE experience is the intensity with which participants engage with their senses and emotions. This results in OAE being not adequate for all individuals. Recommendations are to invest in training of OAE instructors to avoid creating negative imprints, as well as to research possibilities of semi-structured facilitation post-experience to positively foster the processing. On a larger scale, this paper illustrates how the values of OAE, and experiential education accordingly, positively echo on citizenship skills development, and as a result, legitimates their place in society and schools. ...
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