The Out There Award

The Out There Award

By Col Stocker>

There can often be numerous barriers that prevent young adults getting into the outdoors and building a life-long love for spending time outside, along with all the benefits this can bring. Ramblers Scotland's Out There Award aims to engage young adults in Scotland irrespective of background, budget, or experience. Through 2021-2022 it was found that 60% of participants faced at least one barrier to participation, tackling inequality within walking.

Last year they got in touch with the Alpkit Foundation for support towards their 2022-23 season, which looked to enable 80 young adults aged 18-26 to overcome these barriers that prevent them exploring the outdoors.

The award is free for participants and includes outdoor skills training followed by a group planned challenge walk. They then connect participants to their Ramblers young walkers groups nearest to them.

It’s wonderful to see how much of an impact this project is having and we were delighted to award a grant to help supply kit such as emergency whistles and blankets for the starter packs.

Sam Knight is young adult development officer at Ramblers Scotland and he got back in touch about how they got on and grand plans for this coming year. 

“We’ve world-class access rights in Scotland and booming numbers out walking, yet sadly too many people still feel the outdoors is not for them, simply due to their background, ability or age. This award is designed to break down barriers that young adults face to getting outdoors, we deliver in urban areas so anyone can get the life skills required to access the outdoors regardless of their background, budget or experience levels.

Upon completion participants can go on to do the Out There Award Plus which teaches them about responsible camping, teaching them the skills to leave no trace whilst doing environmental volunteering as well. It’s all free and we provide all the gear that participants need to take part”

As part of the project they have developed a participant starter pack which includes safety and navigation essentials for beginners. This is a direct response to feedback from young adults and a drive to develop safe, self-sufficient walkers.

By providing this equipment it gives those completing the award their first bit of outdoor safety kit, a vital encouragement that will help them continue their walking journey.

“The price of outdoor kit often listed as a big barrier to participation by young adults. As we focus the award on groups from disadvantaged communities, we expect this to become an even more common barrier. However, over the last year we’ve managed to continue delivering this project to 80 participants regardless of experience, budget, or background. Working with a range of partners, including the GK Experience, the Borders Forest Trust, Outlook AdventuresFalkirk Outdoors and the Friends of the Award to deliver the project.

This has really helped develop and grow the network of young adults  involved, and connected to, the  existing  six Young Walkers Groups across Scotland. Participants have now started volunteering on the awards and we have just launched the Ambassador Scheme, a yearlong training syllabus designed to ensure the outdoors is for everyone.“

Now that sounds a really positive way to give people a helping hand into the outdoor sector and inspiring their communities to get walking.

Scottish Government research shows that people in affluent areas are considerably more likely to walk than those in deprived parts of Scotland, so Rambler's Scotland focuses on running award events in accessible locatqions near residential areas, with good public transport links.  No surprise that it won the Walking Innovation category at the 2021 Scottish Walking Awards. 

“During a total of 11 Out There Award events last year, 54% of participants were from minority ethnic backgrounds, 30% identified as LGBTQI+, 6% were not cis-gender, and 12% had a disability.  So this coming year we are looking to treble in size to help kick-start diverse young adults’ journeys into Scotland's outdoors."

"We know that young adults in particular can lack walking partners and knowledge of where to walk. We have co-designed the award alongside young people to ensure the Out There Award offers a friendly, welcoming and safe environment for beginners to try walking, learn navigational skills and have fun together. That’s why we hold our awards near urban areas and, on completion, participants receive a year of free Ramblers Scotland membership and link them to our six young walkers groups so they can continue building on their new skills.” 

Registration is now open for 32 two-day events at seven locations across Scotland, with multiple award schemes held between April and October in Aberdeen, Dundee, Edinburgh, Falkirk, Fife, Glasgow and Inverness. Click for more information

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