Adventure and Education Go Hand-in-Hand – Like Planning and Reflection


Six people hiking in the northern wilderness.

“There is no certainty, there is only adventure.” 

-Roberto Assagioli

Life is an adventure, a beautiful mystery. The uncertainty of the future and non-existence of the past make every step and breath adventurous. Adventure is a part of life, and it is adventure that leads us to learn and grow constantly. We believe that adventure and education go hand in hand; adventure is the best way to learn, and the process of learning is adventurous.

Rupak Maharjan & Akseli Innanen

Planning and Reflecting

What bonds adventure and education then? The relation between adventure and education is, in fact, bonded by the process of planning and reflection. Planning refers to designing or drafting the future action beforehand, presuming that all the circumstances will be in our favor and reflection refers to the process of looking back at the past activity, analyzing what worked and what didn’t, and learning or gaining new knowledge and a set of skills for similar kinds of scenarios in the future.  

The first few months of studies at Humak have already shown us the importance of planning and reflecting in the process of learning. Those two might draw the thin line between an adventure and an educational adventure. It is planning and reflecting, that adds experiential and educational components in adventure. Without planning and reflecting, adventure could be fun but not educational at all. You might end up feeling like “next time I could plan some things beforehand” or “that went quite well even though I didn’t plan it.”

Six people dressed in hiking gear sitting under a tree in autumnal Ylläs.
Tero having a short reflection break during our trip to Pallas-Yllästunturi national park.
(Photo: Rupak Maharjan)

It is a Cycle 

Planning starts our learning cycle, which could be compared to the cycle of four different seasons in nature. Planning may symbolize spring: new things, new beginnings, new plans. Without spring, you don’t have any idea what kind of goals to set for the summer. By planning, you secure having something to reflect on when autumn arrives. 

Summer symbolizes experiences. Through versatile experiences we get to learn different technical skills related to outdoor activities and learn the professional side of the outdoor industry. Starting first with the basics and moving on forward to gain advanced skills of the field. In adventure education, the idea is to make the best possible plan and stick with it as long as it is safe, active, fun and educational. But we should also bear in mind that like the weather can change from sunshine to snowfall in a few hours on Midsummer in Finland, we might need to change our plan as per unforeseen circumstances.

A still lake reflecting a forest from the other side in bright autumn colours.
The reflection of Autumn color. (Photo: Rupak Maharjan)

Autumn comes with reflection. Such a cliché to say, but you already know what to do: put on a thick pullover, grab a cup of hot chocolate and sit in front of the fireplace to go through all the things you experienced together during summer. Literally, we do it that way. 

You maybe ended up mountain biking, kayaking, and climbing in the coolest locations in Finland, but what was the educational part, why did you reach the goals you set or why didn’t you achieve them? While reflecting, you realize things that went as planned and which decisions led to you achieving the goals you set. Some things may not have gone as planned and that’s how you learn what to improve for the upcoming adventures. 

First snow falls and the winter arrives. Cold temperatures don’t bother you due to the profound reflection you made in autumn, so your body and mind are able to take in the new information and skills you trained through summer. And when the very first sunshine hits deep snow in the beginning of the new year, you start it all over again: plan, experience, reflect and take in new information and skills. 

Perennial Learning 

With the cycle of seasons, time ages and matures. Similarly, our learning process and our growth keeps maturing with the cycle of planning, implementing, and reflecting. It is a perennial process. The one who is in the path of learning should never be tired of planning, implementing and reflecting. 

The brilliant side is that studying adventure and outdoor education at Humak, any season can be the time of planning or experiencing for us. During our studies, we plan to get all the necessary skills to do it either way. And throughout this program, we will be repeating the learning cycle of planning, experiencing and reflecting on our goals.

As our instructors keep on saying: “It’s not just adventure education but educational adventure.” 

Two adventure education students on top of the Kuer fell.
Rupak and Akseli at the top of Kuer. (Photo: Akseli Innanen)

Last modified: December 2, 2021