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Adventure & Wilderness

When I adventure outdoors, I more easily sense my connection with the natural world. This connection energizes me, enthuses me,
and enables me to keep moving ahead. Sleeping on the ground, putting my ear to the earth’s chest, I hear her pulse beat through me.
Paddling on the water, rising on the rhythm of the waves, I am rocked into inner peace. It is hard to give words to the
sensation of these connections and their meaning in my life. Adventure is both an inner and outer process.

T. A Loeffler: Journal of Leisure Research.

On the trail.

 

Loeffler goes on to describe a study he conducted using a process called photo elicitation, whereby people evaluated wilderness through submission of a favorite photograph. This study and many others have established that natural landscapes are important to human wellbeing. That's no big surprise, but let’s dig a little deeper as we take a journey into the subjects of wilderness and adventure, and their relationship with each other.

Many writers have tackled this question. Here follows a review of their findings: Priest (1990) claimed that adventure is vital to the leisure experience and that for an experience to qualify as an adventure, three criteria need to be met: it must be freely chosen, intrinsically motivating and rewarding, and have an uncertain outcome.

Ewert (1989) stated that the outdoor adventure experience is made up of three components: an interaction with the natural world, a perception of risk or danger, and an uncertain outcome. Quinn (1990) added: “adventure lies deep within oneself, within the spiritual, emotional, and intellectual spheres of personhood,” and that one product of participation in adventure is inner peace.

 

The connection to nature has been described as spiritual or transcendent. Stringer and McAvoy (1992) suggested that spiritual experiences were shaped mainly by the most memorable moments of the trip. They proposed that these moments were prompted by interactions with others and by interactions with the natural world.

Elsewhere on Hidden Corner and in the Guidebook we have used the word Sparkle to describe these special moments, encouraging groups to sit around the fire or picnic table at day’s end, taking time for each person to share a Sparkle, and then a Farkle (their highest and lowest moment in the day). Note that it's the combination of interactions with others and with wilderness that produce these experiences.

Hagvar (1999) explains that there have been two environmental generations in recent times. The first battled pollution in the seventies and the second is dealing with climatic instability, depletion of ozone, desertification, and an accelerating loss of species and habitats. He suggests with great insight that the third generation’s struggle will be a psychological one, in part related to the loss of wilderness. This makes sense in the light of NDD.

 

Conservationists avoid using terms like “land threat” instead using “land pressure.” They have to sugarcoat the pill because so much land use management relies on a Cost-Benefit Analysis. Nature is necessary for human life but so often it must be valued in dollars and cents before anyone will begin to appreciate it.

But loss of biodiversity and quality of nature harms
the basic spiritual and psychological interests of man as well. As Hagvar says, nature’s beauty and wonder provide for us a variety of experiences and challenges that act as a mental anchor, generating insight and wisdom. The preservation of this quality of nature for the benefit of the human mind and spirit might be the third great environmental challenge that modern civilization faces.

Journey. The word describes what we hope to achieve with Hidden Corner. It encapsulates the above, reflecting the fact that we have included not only scientifically proven elements, but just stuff many already knew to be true. Take the opportunity to lead your class on a semester-long journey, to lead a youth group on a weekend-long journey or to lead your family on a year-long journey. And let the journey
change you. For that is what it does best.

Citations are listed in the Reference Section.