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The Role of Expeditions

In personal and social development

By: William O Halloran

Planning the adventure of a lifetime, finding your way along the trail, setting up a cosy camp, singing songs by the fire and sleeping out under the stars. You may ask yourself the question, what do people get out of expedition experiences? Expeditions involve a personal commitment from each participant and so they offer people a chance to both challenge and develop themselves. Indeed, our experience with running expedition programmes for groups has shown us that expeditions are a very powerful tool to use in personal and social development.

For personal development, an expedition provides many opportunities. Individuals are challenged with every aspect of the expedition. Challenges include; safety issues, ensuring personal and group comfort, maintaining a positive attitude, being respectful of others and nature, physical challenge, overcoming fears etc. Many of these same challenges are present in one day adventure experiences but throughout the duration of an expedition the challenge can be greater because it can be more sustained. Expeditions may only be short trips, but for personal and social development, the effectiveness of prolonged expeditions can be greater. More time allows the participants more opportunities to learn personal skills from the experience and to reflect more on their experiences. Socially, expeditions offer participants a chance to interact with others away from their everyday environments. Being immersed in a new environment can make it easier for participants to develop socially. Sharing experiences of an expedition gives the participants something they can share amongst the others in the group and hence add to social development. Expeditions also allow the participants to become more aware of their own strengths and weaknesses, as well as the strengths and weaknesses of others in the group. Each participant has many responsibilities such as washing up, preparing food or setting up camp. These responsibilities add to the challenge and give a greater feeling of accomplishment on completion of the expedition.

The role of expeditions in personal and social development is powerful, therefore those responsible for planning and organising the expedition must have the needs of the group in mind. This can also be said of the expedition leader. If a group wishes to go on an expedition with the aim of developing the participants personally and socially, then it is of utmost importance that the needs of the participants are considered in the design of the expedition programme. Expeditions can easily become negative experiences. To prevent negative expedition experiences, quality professional leaders need to be an essential part of every expedition to ensure its effectiveness in personal and social development.

My personal opinion based on the expedition experiences I have been on either as a participant or a leader, is there are many factors that influence the success of every expedition. These include; the length of the expedition, the influence of the leader, the weather, the environment, the participants, the actual activity and basic needs such as food, shelter and personal comfort. I believe that expeditions are an excellent tool for personal and social development and should be utilised more often. However, because of the time and effort involved, as well as the expertise and equipment needed to organize and run expeditions, it has not always been possible for groups to utilise them for personal and social development... Luckily, Will and Away have the expertise and expereince to facilitate your tailor made expedition.

 

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