WILD ABOUT Outdoor Quests

Whistler Wonder

“Our identity as Canadians is rooted in our relationship with the land and time we spend outside.”

Colin Harris – Take Me Outside (p .10)

There are many forms of outdoor quests.  Many envision heading off with Bilbo Baggins on arduous treks into the wilderness that involve heavy packs, camping equipment, and danger.   Yet, according to the Oxford Dictionary, a quest is a long search (like a lifetime) for something like happiness, knowledge, or truth.  Daypacks are sufficient.  Ingenuity encouraged.  Dig deeper online and you’ll discover there are four types of quests:

  1. Discovery
  2. Practice
  3. Design
  4. Reflection

Daily outdoor quests include any number of things, like discovery of new growth or nesting habits or water quality, practicing running, soccer or biking skills, designing new restoration projects or conservation plans, or simply reflecting on the beauty surrounding us and the things we are grateful for.  WILD ABOUT Outdoor learning is about all those quests – big, small, and in between.  Our desire for people of British Columbia to #getOUTdoors and #getINvolved is due to our lived experience and research about how time spent outdoors is good for the individual, the community and nature.  

Richard Louv uses the comparison of nature as an essential vitamin to combat what he calls, “nature-deficit disorder”.  This is not a medical diagnosis but a metaphor to illustrate the problems emerging from populations, particularly children, experiencing a societal disconnect from the natural world.  There is a significant body of research now focusing on the positive experience of time outdoors in nature to improve physical and mental health, as well as social bonding and creativity.  This research is readily supported by how much better we feel after going for a walk, birdwatching, a game of golf or tennis, or drinking in a sunset (yes, pun intended 😊).

As Dr. Hart Banack (UNBC) states, “while the park is the destination, it is the journey to the park, of picking up pebbles, looking at flowers, and finding sticks, that enlivens and binds the journey.”1   For photo enthusiasts, it may be a picture of the revered owl or waking bear.  Dr. Banack encourages the creation of collaborative groups to survey schools or parks to determine what is available on the site and in the neighbourhood that can facilitate outdoor learning.  It allows for the planning of scaffolded experiences to develop student centered collaborative learning communities with trust building activities and outdoor activities to develop physical skills, health, creativity, and content area knowledge and skills. 

Megan Zeni works with her partner teacher, Sarah Regan, to providing prep time for teachers in their outdoor classroom at Homma Elementary School in Richmond, British Columbia.  This structure ensures that all students in the school receive scaffolded learning time outdoors twice a week.  Richard Louv’s book, Vitamin N, provides an abundance of ways to engage outdoors with a focus on families.  The work of Dr. Hart Banack, Assistant Professor at the University of Northern British Columbia, and Gillian Judson’s book, The Walking Curriculum, provide many ways for teachers to regularly engage students outdoors.  Colin Harris shares that “(t) he seed for running across Canada was planted when I was a young teenager.  It grew slowly but steadily, weaving its way in and out of my consciousness for years.” (p.11).  Educators are poised to teach lessons and habits that have great potential for individuals and conservation and restoration efforts in the future.  

WILD ABOUT Outdoor Learning provides training and structures for community members in B.C. Communities to host activities to engage, educate, and build community.  Visit the website to get involved in WILD ABOUT Outdoor Learning Festivals planned in Vancouver (Tidal WAV on May 27, 2023), Prince George (June 2024) and Surrey (June 2024).  Learn about the organizations and informal groups that facilitate opportunities for people of all ages to engage with like-minded community members to #getOUTdoors and #getINvolved.  


Hartley Banack & Iris Berger (2018).  The emergence of early childhood education outdoor programs I British Columbia:  a meandering story. Tandfonline.com 

Colin Harris (2021).  Take Me Outside – Running Across the Canadian Landscape That Shapes Us.  Rocky Mountain Books.  Rmbooks.com

Gillian Judson (2018).  A Walking Curriculum: Evoking Wonder and Developing Sense of Place.

Richard Louv (2016).  The Essential Guide to a Nature-Rich Life.  Vitamin N.  500 Ways to Enrich the Health & Happiness of Your Family & Community.

A WILD ABOUT Wednesday Blog Post – How can we help you #getOUTdoors and #getINvolved.


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