Shortcut: Embrace the Risk

Shortcut: Embrace the Risk

To avoid risk altogether is to avoid one of the very things which makes the outdoors so great.

A couple of years ago, while guiding some students in the Abel Tasman, I got chatting with their teacher. He worked at an American ex-pat school in Hong Kong, and was lamenting the way decision-makers had made life difficult when trying to organise activities outside the classroom. In fact, it had got so bad, he said they were considering dropping their outdoor programmes altogether!

As I sat there listening, I couldn’t help but identify with his concerns. Here, in our slice of paradise in the South Pacific, we’re facing similar issues. The legislation surrounding adventure education can be pretty suffocating, which is why plenty of schools have simply put their camps and outdoor programmes in the ‘too hard basket’ … which means their kids go without.

What it boils down to is the issue of RISK – something you’ll find plenty of in the outdoors. But risk isn’t the bad guy – in fact research suggests that engaging in risky activities is an important part of healthy child development. You see, it’s not about risk AVOIDANCE, it’s about risk MANAGEMENT.

To avoid risk altogether is to avoid one of the very things which makes the outdoors so great. It’s the perfect place to face challenges … adversity … your fears. And, in our modern lives (which revolve largely around comfort), it’s one of the best character-forming arenas for a boy’s journey into manhood.

So what happens when all risk is removed? Seneca, the Roman philosopher, summed it up like this: “No man is more unhappy than he who never faces adversity. For he is not permitted to prove himself.”

MIKE COONEY IS GRAPEVINE’S EDITOR, AND SHORTCUTS ARE WHAT HE’S LOOKING FOR … SO HE CAN SPEND LESS TIME AT THE COMPUTER, AND MORE TIME IN OUR GREAT OUTDOORS.