At The Outdoor Education Group, we allow young people to experience the Real World; we facilitate programs that are memorable, have real meaning, develop transferable skills and build personal character. But, how does the old saying go, “You can lead a horse to water, but you can’t make it drink”? Just because you take young people out into the wilderness doesn’t mean they will put it all together. The planning, delivery and reflection must be carefully constructed with precision to ensure an experience in the outdoors, is more than just a hardtop camp or a hike; it’s about teaching young people universal skills that will serve them well for life — wherever it may take them.

Throughout 2018, The Outdoor Education Group has been hard at work identifying and redesigning the key elements for successful outdoor education programs. This task has been vitally important to OEG because as an organisation we know that successful educational systems across the globe all share a highly effective model for delivering learning. This means that everyone at OEG is not only fully involved in the process but importantly can describe it to others in a simple and consistent way.

Here at OEG, we know that our semi-structured and natural approach to delivering experiential learning to young people lends itself to powerful and measurable outcomes because they are delivered within an intensive timeframe and away from the rigid structures of school and home life.

And so, the adoption of a clear and shared framework creates a set of key messages that lead to the all-important point of delivery; when an OEG staff member is with students during a learning activity. In short, it is the way we describe the key ingredients of an OEG Experiential Learning Program.

Our teams are highly skilled in their ability to manage, adapt and modify their approach to create powerful, teachable moments for young people involved in highly dynamic programs. But to achieve the greatest of success, the experiences must be accompanied by simple and easy to understand key terms of reference. And, from this OEG will be able to focus our educational impact and provide a strong ethos to our community-based programmes.

This ‘Learner Focussed’ model creates a platform for flexible, needs-led approaches to delivery. With a common vocabulary highlighting the key elements of Explore, Reflect, Wonder, this framework has enabled an artistic and provocative re-imagining of our Theory of Change to maximise the opportunity for interpretation by everyone who encounters it. This approach is unique and sets us apart as an organisation across the world in our thinking around program design and how we communicate it to others.

These two new graphics have been designed to speak to everyone, whether from inside OEG or looking in from the outside. We believe this interpretation of a Theory of Change is unique. It sends a clear message about what OEG does, how OEG does it, and why.

Focusing on the learners in our care (the young people), this new model provides several key benefits:

– Clear and consistent vocabulary and language – that includes no jargon nor technical Edu-speak!

– Easy to understand, yet broad enough to allow industry leading delivery that provides a strong platform for innovation.

– Aligns OEG program outcomes to do what we do best, adding the ability to overlay our partner school’s educational language.

– Influence the wider outdoor education sector, leading the field whilst providing a clear point of difference for new partnerships.

Of course, you can “lead a horse to water, but you can’t make it drink.” However, given the right environment, the right tools and the inspiration the horse will drink the water, not just once but for evermore. Being able to offer a broad range of challenging, hands-on experiences that deliver lessons and learnings with long-term benefits. And, working in partnership with schools, local communities, and indigenous groups, give students of all ages a taste for the Real World. By putting it all together, The Outdoor Education Group helps young people to experience life, that is memorable, has real meaning, develops transferable skills and builds character.

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