Andy Robinson, CEO of the Institute for Outdoor Learning, examines the changing map of the outdoor and activities industry.
With statements about the need for increased participation in sport and physical departments (see the latest consultation on a new sports strategy from the Department for Culture, Media & Sport as a good example) it seems that our world of outdoor adventurous activity provision is well placed to be part of a solution. Good news, but is this simply a case of doing ore of what we’re currently doing or is there a need for us to develop and reposition our offers to have a bigger impact than we do at present?
Some good work has been done recently by Sport England, The Sport & Recreation Alliance and The Outdoor Industries Association to gain a better understanding of the outdoor recreation market (in its widest sense) in the UK. The resultant report is available on the Sport England website. It points to a need to think about how well current outdoor activity-related services meet a range of different consumer motivations. for me it is also a reminder of how the needs and opportunities for outdoor activity participants change through our lifetime, and the fact that the outdoors is so often a medium to fulfil social, developmental or health needs. I believe the challenge for providers of outdoor adventurous activity is to better integrate their pure outdoor services with other activity so that those other needs can be more explicitly met.
The Institute is currently working with The Blagrave Trust to review the approaches evaluation of the impact of outdoor learning with children and young people. A report and guidance will be available later in the autumn. I strongly believe that if we are to develop the services of the sector to fulfil its potential, we need to be clear about how we achieve the most far-reaching and sustainable impact, be that with a health, education, environment