Our Adventures

Our Adventures

Challenge Academy nominated for an Outdoor Learning Award

Challenge Academy has been shortlisted for a 2019 Outdoor Learning Award.

The annual awards are presented to Outdoor Learning professionals and organisations in recognition of their outstanding work and to encourage excellence.

Challenge Academy, an outdoor learning and adventure specialist based at Baggeridge Country Park, has been nominated in the ‘Health and Wellbeing’ category, which celebrates schemes that have made a real difference to areas such as mental health, resilience and, or, social issues.

Working in partnership with Black Country Talent Match, Challenge Academy identified those most in need of support, enabling and selecting those furthest away from the job market and delivering a range of outdoor activities to develop mental toughness, in readiness for seeking employment and improved health and wellbeing.

The project used a range of outdoor learning opportunities to develop growth mindsets, confidence and health and wellbeing.

Challenge Academy Education and Development Director, Greg Brookes-Clayton, said: ”We are delighted to be shortlisted for such a prestigious industry award.  It was a very rewarding and impactful project where we believe we made a difference to the lives of many young people in the community.

“This year we have invested heavily in developing our facilities to enable us to reach more people in the community. To receive recognition for all our hard work with an award nomination is a great achievement in itself and to win our category would be amazing and top of what’s been a great year for us.”

To vote for Challenge Academy to win the 2019 ‘Health and Wellbeing’ Outdoor Learning Award, click here. 

Voting closes at Midnight on 30th September 2019.

As a Community Interest Company, Challenge Academy provides outdoor adventures for all ages and abilities and all its profits are used to develop the site and continually improve the range of activities on offer.

 

Halloween Event Set to Cause a Fright at Baggeridge Adventure

Baggeridge Adventure is transforming its outdoor adventure site into a spooky hollow during the October half term school break to mark Halloween, from Saturday 26th October to Sunday 3rd November.

Based at Baggeridge Country Park in Sedgley, the adventure centre boasts a high ropes course and a brand new treetops nets course, which opened earlier this year. 

In addition to all the challenging obstacle courses on offer, there will be lots of family-friendly activities planned throughout the week including traditional Halloween games from apple bobbing and pumpkin trails to marshmallow challenges and Frankenstein bowling.

This is the first event of its kind at Challenge Academy’s Baggeridge Adventure Hub. Director, Mel Ellis, said: “We’ve expanded our site a lot over the last year which has enabled us to offer more activities for all ages and create a great Halloween experience for the whole family.”

For the more brave and daring, there are twilight sessions from 4-7pm where adventurers can take on the high ropes and nets courses as the night creeps in.

Entry to the event is £5 per person and additional activity tokens are available for the high ropes and nets challenges. 

Find out more and book your Halloween Adventure tickets

SCHOOL TESTIMONIALS

“I just wanted to say a huge thank you to you both for the programme you planned and executed so effectively on Thursday 5th September in spite of the initial problems. We have had very positive feedback from the students: they enjoyed the day immensely and gained a great deal from the experience. We really do appreciate your efforts to ensure the day was successful, so many thanks once again.”

THE ROYAL SCHOOL WOLVERHAMPTON

MOBILE ‘BIG RIG’

‘”This equipment has become a leadership and team building ‘game changer, for the RAFAC. The quality of training and equipment that is now available to our cadets as a result of the Mobile Challenge Course is in stark contrast to the splintered planks of wood and rusty oil barrels that went before it. Challenge Academy provide a highly professional service supported by high quality robust resources that are fit for purpose and suitably pitched facilitation training and CPD accredited by the Institute of Outdoor Learning (IOL). Everyone that has experienced it has bought in to the concept and there is genuine excitement about the prospect of receiving a set of this equipment”

RAF AIR CADETS TRAINING AND SAFETY ADVISOR (CENTRAL AND EAST)

5 Reasons Why Outdoor Play is Key to Children’s Development

Playing outdoors and exploring our natural surroundings used to be the foundation of childhood memories, but somewhere along the way it’s become lost in the stress of everyday life, government cutbacks and the culture of fear; fear of strangers and fear of accidents.

However studies have shown that the increase in fear does not correlate with the increase in crimes affecting children.  

As a result, children tend to be kept indoors more and occupied with structured activities that promote little independence.  

So where we stop children from being adventurous and climbing trees and playing in the rain, are we in fact prohibiting their growth in some way?

There are numerous research studies that link the importance of play with children thriving in all aspects of their lives and well into adulthood.

1 Mental health

The number of children suffering from anxiety and depression has steadily been rising for some time now. One in eight (12.8%) 5 to 19 year olds had at least one mental disorder when assessed in 2017.*1 

It’s arguable that children face more pressures now than ever before; they’re expected to sit more exams during their time in education and there is also more pressure from their peers. Whilst bullying has always been apart of society, the revolution of social media and increase in mobile technology has led to the onset of cyber bullying. 

While outdoor play may not solve the UK’s mental health crisis overnight, it will certainly be a major positive step in the right direction. 

Spending time outdoors can reduce symptoms of depression and improve a child’s general wellbeing. Being in natural surroundings has a calming effect which leads to feeling more happier, healthy and a sense of freedom, as it gives kids the chance to escape from the stresses of everyday life.

2 Physical development

Outdoor play is synonymous with children developing strong and healthy bodies. But with the decline in the number of hours children now spend outside and replaced with screen time, the state of children’s physical health is worryingly alarming.

‘One in 10 children are considered obese by the time they start primary school and this rises to 1 in 5 by the time they reach Year 6’. *2

Public Health England’s guidelines suggest children should spend 60 minutes a day engaging in physical activity, but truth is, the majority are falling well short of these recommendations.   

As well as burning off calories and improving fitness levels, embedding outdoor play into children’s daily routines can help to develop muscle strength and coordination and fine and gross motor skills.  

Even in the winter, a small amount of sunshine can help children absorb vitamin D to ensure healthy bone density. 

3 Creativity

Children’s lives have become more and more structured over time and controlled by timetables with the surge in after school activities, that there is little time left for free play. While being driven from one activity to another diminishes the opportunity for outdoor interactions even further.

This increase in structure reduces the chances for children to explore their environments, develop new ideas and spark their imaginations. Being outdoors stimulates different senses and parts of the brain; sticks, stones and soil can represent other abstract objects.

Being able to think creatively and outside the box is a valuable skill that can set children up for later life. A creative mind can help to solve difficult problems and overcome obstacles that come its way.

With so much time spent indoors and zoned out in front of screens, these transferable creative skills are in decline.   

4 Confidence

It’s during play that children gain a deeper knowledge about themselves and the world around them. Using and navigating new equipment teaches new skills and helps to increase confidence and self-esteem.

Take this play in to external environments where risks are slightly increased, and this gives children the chance to develop the ability to learn how to stay safe outside. There are also more opportunities for them to overcome obstacles and feel a greater sense of achievement in exceeding their limits.

Getting children playing outside is also encouraging them to step outside of their comfort zone and putting them on the path to developing their independence. Outdoors they are free to roam further than they are indoors, explore unfamiliar surroundings and deal with the unpredictable. 

Learning by trial and error and experiencing failure and success, helps children to overcome challenges they come across and become more fearless of whatever comes their way in the future.  

5 Emotional development

Outdoor spaces are less crowded and less intimidating for children, which helps to facilitate more social interactions as children tend to come out of their shells more in open environments.  

It’s through these social interactions that children learn to form friendships, express their emotions and understand those of others, the consequences of their actions and how to deal with conflict and cooperate. Being able to express how they are feeling helps children to learn how to have greater control of their emotions as they grow.

Children who aren’t able to effectively control their emotions tend to lash out verbally or physically and find it difficult to cope with adversity later in life.  

Parents enjoy taking kids to soft play centres or parks as they can run around and burn off their energy in safe enclosed environments. However outdoor experiences are more limited, so at Challenge Academy we’ve created a unique Nets Adventure Park for families and children as young as four to enjoy an outdoor adventure high up amongst the trees. With different obstacles to tackle, the aerial course will help kids to step out of their comfort zone and learn new skills as they challenge themselves mentally and physically, all under the support of nets. 

Find out more and book The Nets Adventure.

https://challengeacademy.co.uk/nets-adventure/

 

*1 NHS report on Mental Health of Children and Young People in England, 2017.

*2 Statistics on Obesity, Physical Activity and Diet – England, 2018.

MOBILE ‘BIG RIG’

We invested in the kit and the training package. We received 6 hours of easy to follow, fun and comprehensive training. 8 Staff in total received the training and by the end of the session we were able to facilitate the resources feeling comfortable enough to adapt the resources for our specific teaching needs”

ST BENEDICT’S SCHOOL AND PERFORMING ARTS COLLEGE

MOBILE ‘BIG RIG’

“Huge thank you again for a fantastic day last Thursday. The product is awesome and I really enjoyed the training thanks to you, you totally engaged the group and you are a brilliant facilitator. I loved the ‘aha’ moments linking to business needs, management actions and leadership skills.I’m very excited about the potential impact the BOC can have not only in Fitness First but UAE. I’ve already been thinking about which activities link to different learnings and outcomes”

FITNESS FIRST MIDDLE EAST AND NORTH AFRICA

MOBILE CHALLENGE RIG

“Huge thank you again for a fantastic day last Thursday. The product is awesome and I really enjoyed the training thanks to you, you totally engaged the group and you are a brilliant facilitator. I loved the ‘aha’ moments linking to business needs, management actions and leadership skills.I’m very excited about the potential impact the BOC can have not only in Fitness First but UAE. I’ve already been thinking about which activities link to different learnings and outcomes”

FITNESS FIRST MIDDLE EAST AND NORTH AFRICA

MOBILE CHALLENGE RIG

We invested in the kit and the training package. We received 6 hours of easy to follow, fun and comprehensive training. 8 Staff in total received the training and by the end of the session we were able to facilitate the resources feeling comfortable enough to adapt the resources for our specific teaching needs”

ST BENEDICT’S SCHOOL AND PERFORMING ARTS COLLEGE

MOBILE CHALLENGE RIG

The training day was carefully structured to allow skills to develop through warm-ups, simpler to more complex tasks and group review sessions. The trainer was engaging and inclusive and knew exactly how to get the team out of its comfort zone to work harder, faster and with improved results. A good time was had by all and the team left having made fresh discoveries about colleagues and knowledge about themselves”

CURRICULUM DEVELOPMENT MANAGER, AIM AWARDS

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