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For a long time, outdoor activities have been recognised as a source of enjoyment, a training ground for useful skills, a means of engaging with nature and the environment, and a way of providing both a physical and mental challenge. More recently, the educational world has embraced outdoor activities as a platform and facilitator for developing personal awareness and a knowledge of group dynamics and their effective management. Our pupils learn about their strengths and weaknesses, develop robust approaches to problem-solving, and gain resilience in overcoming setbacks, as well as a detailed understanding of the mechanisms operating within a team.

At the end of the day, the experience was WAY more than a four day trip to the wilderness for a group of impressionable 16 year old boys. The memories will stay with them for life.

Parent on Cairngorms Trip

Eton has a significant history of producing adventurers and explorers and for some time has offered its boys interesting and challenging activities including mountaineering in the UK and abroad, sport and traditional climbing, ski racing, kayaking expeditions and Channel swimming. And, of course, adventurous training and operating in the outdoors are essential themes to the programme offered to boys who join the Combined Cadet Force (CCF). But as the educational benefits of all this have become clearer, Eton has taken steps to expand its outdoor activities programme, offering more activities to more boys within a structure that offers progression towards better skills and greater challenges. As far as possible, Eton draws on the experience, skill and qualifications of Masters to deliver this programme – there are considerable benefits to this dynamic – and Masters leading activities and expeditions use these ongoing opportunities for teaching character development.

60

pupils in F Block participate in outdoor activities every Lent half (term).

Since 2018, we have piloted a carousel of outdoor activities for approximately 60 pupils in F Block (Year 9) on Tuesday afternoons during the Lent half (term). This has proved successful and provided tasters in activities including mountain biking, riding, climbing, mountaincraft, kayaking and sailing. We are planning to continue this programme and include E Block (Year 10), who choose one activity to pursue throughout the half (term). Beyond that, we are looking to expand the programme across all blocks, across all three terms, and more frequently throughout each week.

An enormous thank you to everyone for giving the boys this tremendous experience and inspirational trip. It has been wonderful to follow the daily explorations with stunning photography. Congratulations to you all.

Parent on Alps Trip

Recent trips include:

  • Mountaineering in Snowdonia and the Lakes
  • A combined CERN visit and Alpine trekking
  • Sport climbing in Spain
  • Trekking in the African bush with the Wilderness Foundation
  • A relay swim across the English Channel
  • Round the Island sailing race

The outdoor education department and the CCF continue to work closely together and are exploring ways of creating an outdoor activities programme for pupils in D, C and B Blocks (Years 11-13), which would run parallel to that provided by the CCF. This programme would see boys working towards qualifications and enjoying increasing opportunities to instruct junior boys. Of course, character development and leadership are at the heart of all our plans, with our Tony Little Centre for Innovation and Research in Learning (CIRL) providing important support in devising our programmes. We are exploring the provision of central outdoor activity camps at regular points throughout a boy’s time at Eton, something we see as integral to the programmes we offer, and will continue to offer exciting and challenging expeditions during the holidays as a focus and progressive challenge to our boys.