NEARLY 700 adults have taken part in a survey looking at the long term impact of residential trips to the Lake District when they were at primary and secondary school.
The findings show that the trips are an important and positive part of childhood, says youth charity Brathay Trust who carried out the study. And, that the high response rate suggests people enjoyed remembering them.
Earlier this year Brathay Trust invited adults who had visited Low Bank Ground and Hinning House with their school to reflect on their experience. The two outdoor centres are managed by Brathay on behalf of Wigan Council. Since the 1970s over 2,000 pupils from Wigan have visited visit the centres each year. Low Bank Ground, on the shores of Coniston Water has lake access and Hinning House is in the Duddon Valley, close to Scafell Pike, England’s highest mountain.
The 691 alumni responses covered visits made between 1973 and 2017, with an equal split between venues. A small number of responses came from staff who accompanied pupils. Some had visited as a student and then as an adult accompanying a school party. But most of those who took part, 77% came with their primary school.
Questions included, what did people remember the most about their visit, what did they learn and what has been the long-term impact.
Chris Jeffs, Deputy Head of Centre, explained the findings: “The thing people remembered the most were the activities, 95% said this, followed by time spent with friends (64%), being away from home (62%) and the food (32%).
“When asked what they gained from their residential experience, responses included: ‘How to excel in areas that formal education failed me; I learnt that a girl from a poor background could become successful in the outdoor education field, and be believed in by the amazing teams at both venues.’”, said Chris.
“Another person who came with their primary school wrote of gaining, ‘A lifelong fascination with canoeing, abseiling, rock climbing and walking up and down big hills.’” added Chris.
People also reported feeling more independent or self-reliant as a result of a visit. One said, “I learnt I wouldn’t melt and die if I was away from my mum. The experience taught me the self-reliance and self-belief I needed as I was going to high school in the September.” Another said, “I recall my mother being extremely anxious about allowing me to attend as I never left her side. I, on the other hand, learned to be more independent.”
Teamwork, helping with chores and making beds also featured as skills that were acquired. A number of those who took part in the survey said the trip resulted in a greater awareness of the natural world and life outside their home environment of Wigan.
Some responses to questions show the confidence boosting benefits of a residential. One person said: “It gave me confidence and I felt a sense of freedom and worth at doing something on my own; I loved the experience.” This finding was echoed 30 years later by a parent of a primary school child who went on a residential, who said: “When she came home she was a different child. Filled with confidence and a desire to explore and exceed; absolutely without a doubt the best thing she has ever done.”
When the alumni were asked in what ways their residential experience had changed them, they listed a growth in personal and social development, increased confidence and independence, improvements in communication and working with others and a willingness to broaden their horizons.
For more information about the survey and the centres please visit https://www.brathay.org.uk/news/impact-of-field-trips-to-lake-district