Adventure Based Learning is a community walking group based in Oldham.
Mark Hilton set up Adventure Based Learning in January 2011 to get people who may not otherwise gain access to the countryside enjoying the activities it offers.
Steadily, Mark built up a membership of teachers, social workers and youth workers to help design projects that would interest, motivate and encourage a love of the outdoors. The group is a rare mixture of old, young, male, female, experienced and novice adventurers, but they all get on well. The group offers taster sessions that enable people to try out activities for courses that develop and promote self-confidence, communication and team-building skills. Some courses lead to accreditation and further training, which helps those hoping to improve their employability.
The range of activities is huge and includes outdoor climbing and mountaineering, orienteering and navigation, and sailing, as well as a wide variety of country skills such as conservation, bush craft, ecological growing, outdoor cooking and plant, tree, fungi, animal and insect identification. Adventure Based Learning also provides a range of craft activities linked to nature such as raft building and willow weaving.
Every course is designed to suit the group or individual involved so the variation is brilliant. All participants are given the opportunity to help plan, do and review their courses. The Venture Skills course, for example, was adapted for a group of people with mental health issues to include suitable accompanied walks and a variety of activities within their capabilities. The Adventure Quest course is aimed at Year 6 and 7 schoolchildren in the area and aims at helping the children feel more self-reliant and self-confident.
Participants are given the chance to explore the skills they never knew they had. One member of the group, Lee, joined Adventure Based Learning after being unemployed for two years. Lee self-referred himself to the group and gained a number of qualifications whilst volunteering with them. Thanks to these qualifications and the confidence that Adventure Based Learning gave to him, Lee has now gone into steady employment.