Residentials are a great leveller, providing a new environment where participants are equal and existing barriers and hierarchies can be broken down.
The extended time period and intensity of a residential experience is key to developing relationships and learning opportunities. Participants can create a new community away from their normal distractions that gives them time and space to address their goals within a supportive environment. The memorability of the visit and the shared experiences of participants help to maintain the sense of community back home.
Creating the conditions for learning
Brathay programmes focus on meeting the group’s specific goals, and ideally form part of a progression. They allow time for the participants to experience new activities and challenges and for each person to take learning from the experience which is both powerful and meaningful. This also applies to visiting staff, many of whom will return from the residential with a much greater appreciation of their young peoples’ strengths as well as their own.
Brathay’s different Centres are a key part of the experience which, along with the quality of delivery staff and the tailored programmes, all contribute to the way that group and individual needs are met. Quality badges such as the Learning Outside the Classroom (LOtC) Quality Badge and the Association of Heads of Outdoor Education Centres (AHOEC) Gold Standard are both indicators of high quality provision.
Achieving the desired outcomes
Brathay’s work is strengths-focused, building on what young people can do rather than what they can’t or what they have been labelled as. One of the key goals is to encourage greater self-awareness, a process that leads eventually to a realisation of the skills they need to meet their goals.
Outdoor activities are often used during residentials as vehicles for the development of personal, social and environmental understanding. Activities that require persistence and determination and make use of the challenges found on mountains, lakes and rivers can have a powerful impact and provide opportunities for learning that don’t exist in other contexts. Curriculum and development goals can be met in other ways, however, and being in a new place provides many chances to engage with geography, the arts, numeracy, literacy, history and science. Involving the group in the planning, maximising achievement through differentiation and challenge, and having structured review time helps to make sense of the experience, and capitalises on the potential for learning.