Do you remember your teenage years: the puberty rebellion, whether internal or external, with the slow and rapid breaking out of old childhood skins? Whether you had a smooth ride or a roughedged outbreak, it is most likely that this time held strong contradictions.
Inte Koster & Aleksi Raaska
Do you remember your teenage years: the puberty rebellion, whether internal or external, with the slow and rapid breaking out of old childhood skins? Whether you had a smooth ride or a roughedged outbreak, it is most likely that this time held strong contradictions. Perhaps you longed to be free, unattached and stand on your own feet whilst simultaneously longing to return to that safe haven of a home. Perhaps you resented your parent(s) or caretaker(s) whilst simultaneously longing for the soothing holding of arms in moments of overwhelm and challenge.
Perhaps that is right where we are at the moment. We as in humanity, that is. Perhaps we have outlived our childhood skins, we are somehow aware that the comforts that used to sooth our pains and tears can’t sustain us anymore, we are trying our steps onto the new and unknown territory of adulthood, yet lingering in the adolescent swaying between the comfort of childhood ignorance and the freedom of adult responsibility.
In his book ‘Nature and the Human Soul’, Bill Plotkin (2008) explains how, according to his studies on lifestages, humanity as a whole, in our ‘modern societies’, matures no further than the adolescent stage. Rather than moving through the phase of adolescence to further mature into true adulthood followed by elderhood, we operate according to a collective worldview where material possession, egocentric focus, and outward status are some of our main values that fuel our striving. Can we choose not to act according to the values that reign and instead promote the values of the adulthood stage?
Kurt Hahn, the founder of adventure education, believed that outdoor and adventure education fosters true maturation and growth in human beings, and meant that the process itself is about growing up. Our personal experience confirms this idea. The outdoors offer a non-judgmental and unapologetic environment that, eventually, always leads one back to self.
Even if adventure education, in intention, promotes the process of personal growth, which ideally fosters a healthier and further matured world, in reality we see the challenge of taking these intent-full guidelines and living them in their full glory.
In our studies at the Community Educator bachelor’s degree in Adventure and Outdoor Education, we see the conflicting navigation between a world with a materialistic, egocentric, and statusfocused value system at the center, and the idea to create a study program applying alternative values. Tourism and business hold a major focus in our studies, providing practical training places and real-life examples, and both do usually not live by the base values of adventure education. We experience the conflict between values of inclusion and a reality that is inaccessible to many.
As future instructors, community educators, and perhaps even role models, we believe in promoting values such as sustainability, sensibility, understanding and empowerment towards our surroundings, the diverse people we encounter and in making these activities available for everyone. At the same time, we find community building and true social inclusion a process that is not without challenge. We find ourselves talking about issues ‘out there’, such as exclusion amongst youth and unsustainable ways of living, whilst we see these issues reflected in our very own community.
What, then, does it take to cultivate a truly inclusive, empowered, sustainable and nourishing environment, community, society, and world? What are the values required to live a nourishing and sustainable life on this beautiful planet? What is the leadership that is going to take us there? And what if each and every one of us is the leader we’ve been waiting for?
Plotkin, Bill 2008. Nature and the Human Soul – Cultivating Wholeness and Community in a