Adventure recreation relates to all activities, which mainly take place outdoors such as rafting, rock climbing, and other outdoor activities. Adventure recreation also entails several leisure activities, which are vigorous and physical in nature. Past studies have identified various elements of adventures. Specifically, they have included freedom of choice, self-motivation, interaction with nature, risks, rewards, and unknown outcomes (Loeffler, 2004).
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Adventure recreation has become a professional field that has developed principles like any other professional field. Such activities have developed from undertakings of individuals like Baden-Powell and other organisations like the Scout Association, Outward Bound, and the Guide Association among others.
Moreover, adventure recreation has become a part of the national curriculum, field studies and has facilitated environmental conservation through governing bodies. In some cases, others have relied on adventure recreation has a way of resolving community issues through collaboration and participating in sports.
Consequently, it has affected people in different ways. Loeffler notes that the outdoor environment and related activities have the potential to “engage the entire person” (Loeffler, 2004). Such forms of engagement include fascination, oneness, topophilia, peak experience, and numinous.
Adventure recreation has influenced several aspects of individuals’ lives. Socially, outdoor activities have enabled individuals to develop self-concepts. Most outdoor activities aim at building social aspects of life.
Consequently, groups that participate in adventure recreation have established strong peer support from colleagues and developed social networks for support. Some scholars have noted that adventure recreation has provided opportunities to understand the growth of middle-class leisure activities. Loeffler found out that such activities were divergent because they were still in their infancy stages.
At personal levels, adventure recreation has influenced people in three different ways as Loeffler indicates. These include “inner exploration, group process, and close interaction with the natural environment” (Loeffler, 2004).
In this regard, participants have considered adventure recreation as a means of controlling issues, which relate to health, emotional, and physical well-being like obesity, social inclusion, and group cohesion. Group cohesion promotes nationalism and a sense of pride among participants.
In some cases, people have linked exploration and expedition to both political and economic advantages of adventure recreation. Activists have used outdoor activities to raise awareness about environmental issues while entrepreneurs have identified business opportunities from adventure recreation.
This has led to a tremendous growth of outdoor activities because individuals have created a great demand for varieties in expedition and adventures. At the same time, the need to develop equipment for adventure recreation has increased, which has led to expansion of existing facilities, as well as invention of new ways of outdoor adventures.
There are a number of benefits associated with taking part in outdoor activities. Colin Mortlock has attempted to highlight some fundamental values that people can derive from outdoor adventure exposures (Mortlock, 2000). Mortlock shows various areas of adventures and highlights the importance of “both the quality of experiences and possibilities of adventure being instinctive” (Mortlock, 2000).
According to Mortlock, adventures should develop an individual’s physical, emotional, and mental capabilities. In this regard, outdoor activities develop fundamental human virtues, which enhance satisfaction in life. Such effects have the potential to grow the society too. Other studies have identified potential areas in which outdoor activities can have significant impacts.
For instance, different activities can develop decision-making skills, self-esteem, self-confidence, teamwork, inclusion, effective use of leisure time, and understanding other individuals. In addition, taking part in adventure recreation facilitates experiential learning, group work, problem solving, social skills, and environmental awareness among others.
A study by John Luckner and Reldan Nadler noted that adventure recreation was also applicable in therapy. These authors observed that the field of therapeutic recreation “experienced an increase in the use of outdoor-adventure activities, such as rope courses, group initiatives, and wilderness travel” (Luckner and Nadler, 1995). Therapeutic professionals use experiences from outdoor activities to develop skills and insights for assisting their clients.
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They rely on positive transfers as ways of developing long-term benefits to clients. Such applications of adventure reactions in therapies are only possible because of positive benefits participants derive from activities they undertake. Moreover, individuals are able to develop their own stories based on experiences from activities they undertake.
Some researchers identified three benefits of adventure reaction, which included “improved relationships with the physical, self-confidence and inner clarity, reflection and contemplation” (Loeffler, 2004). It is important to note that adventure is an inner drive within an individual that involves emotional, intellectual, and spiritual aspects of a person. Therefore, inner peace results from talking part in outdoor activities.
There are a number of activities in outdoor adventures. Therefore, it is significant for people to understand these activities and their potential benefits. There are nature activities, camping, sailing, rafting, canoeing, problem solving activities, roping, and mountain climbing. In addition, there are also urban adventures, wilderness experiences and other programmes.
Skills and knowledge in such activities provide opportunities for participants to understand the meaning, importance, and experiences of outdoor activities. As the number of middle class increases, the rate of participation in adventure recreation grows significantly.
As a result, outdoor professionals face different challenges, which relate to management, complexity of activities, management of programmes, availability of resources, managing potential risks, and other outcomes from extreme activities (Pigram & Jenkins, 2006).
Current studies have provided useful information that can help professionals to understand outdoor experiences. With such information, educators can develop practical solutions to current challenges in the industry.
Stakeholders in adventure recreation should also understand best practices in delivering outdoor experiences. Leadership abilities are crucial in adventures because participants may experience challenges related to choices, care, inclusion, and equal participation opportunities (Priest & Gass, 2005).
Moreover, there are also physical and psychological risks, which a leader must address among his or her team. At the same time, service providers need to create environmental awareness among participants and suggest suitable activities for a given place.
The provision of a safe working environment is also a part of adventure recreation. This suggests that participants should not expose themselves to unnecessary risks. Therefore, service providers must ensure that their clients have safe environments to conduct their activities. In this regard, customer management is crucial for growth and professional image of the industry.
Adventure recreation activities and equipment should also meet quality assurance procedures, health and safety standards, emergency responses for extreme activities, professional conducts, and encourage staff development (Priest & Dixon, 1990).
Principles of adventure recreation show that there are many types of adventure activities. Such activities have effects on emotional, mental, and physical experiences of participants.
Such diversities allow participants to understand natural environments, group characteristics, and effects of outdoor activities on participants and society. Moreover, it has become a professional industry that requires effective leadership and management principles to operate effectively.
Loeffler, T. A. (2004). A Photo Elicitation Study of the Meanings of Outdoor Adventure Experiences. Journal of Leisure Research, 36(4), 536-556.
Luckner, J., and Nadler, R. (1995). Processing adventure experiences : it’s the story that counts. Therapeutic Recreation Journal, 29(3), 175-183.
Mortlock, C. (2000). Adventure Alternative (2nd ed.). Cumbria, England: Cicerone.
Pigram, J., & Jenkins, J. (2006). Outdoor recreation management (2nd ed.). New York: Routledge.
Priest, S., and Dixon, T. (1990). Safety practices in adventure programming. Boulder: Association for Experiential Education.
Priest, S., and Gass, M. (2005). Effective leadership in adventure programming. Champaign, IL: Human Kinetics.