Use this URL to cite or link to this record in EThOS:
Title: Young people and organised outdoor activities : a study of opportunities in national parks
Author: Houghton, Helen Lesley
ISNI:       0000 0001 3582 2416
Awarding Body: Oxford Brookes University
Current Institution: Oxford Brookes University
Date of Award: 1998
Availability of Full Text:
Access from EThOS:
Access from Institution:
This thesis examines young people's opportunities to participate in organised outdoor activities. It is set within a context of changing leisure interests, a growth in private sector leisure provision, and increasing emphasis on consumer choice. It argues that whilst, in principle, there is widespread support for young people's participation in outdoor activities, in practice, opportunities are becoming increasingly limited. The study aims to examine the nature of outdoor facilities, to determine their use by young people, to identify changes occurring within the outdoor sector, and to consider the changes in relation to young people's access to the outdoors. The empirical research focuses~ on outdoor activity centres, in acknowledgement that the residential experience offered by such centres can contribute to the social and personal development of young people. It also focuses on the National Parks of England and Wales. These areas possess a wealth of natural resources suitable for a wide range of outdoor activities and, collectively, contain the highest number of outdoor centres in the UK. A combination of quantitative and qualitative methods of data collection, including a questionnaire survey of outdoor centres, interviews with centre operators, and a review of National Park policies, has been used to build up a picture of centre operations, visitor profiles, and the nature of outdoor programmes. The study findings suggest that a number of factors influence young people's opportunities to participate in outdoor activities. These include centre ownership, safety and educational reforms, planning and environmental policies, and young people's leisure behaviour. Recent years have seen a significant growth in privately owned centres and an associated rise in skills-based activities and non-sporting special interest holidays. These programmes have been largely directed at the adult market. There are few indications that this pattern is about to change. Regulation of the outdoor industry, including safety licensing, has put increasing pressures on under-resourced centres and has led to readjustments in centre operations and in the profile of visitor groups. Young people's opportunities to take part in adventurous activities, as a result of safety licensing, have diminished. Educational reforms have further dictated the direction of outdoor courses. Since the late 1980s, there has been a marked increase in primary school visits to outdoor centres and in field studies, whilst secondary schools visits and involvement in physical pursuits have continued to decline. Centre diversification has led to an overall reduction in the number of places available for young people. Planning and environmental policies have shaped the pattern of centre development. The emphasis on environmental protection in the National Parks has led to constraints on outdoor provision although policies, across Parks, vary. Changes in young people's lifestyles have also begun to impact upon the content of outdoor courses, such as the demand for more varied programmes and less traditional activities. Sporting and recreational organisations can, by addressing factors of motivation, play. a significant role in increasing levels of participation. Given the dynamics of the outdoor industry, the relative importance of these factors is difficult to determine, although the provisions of the Education Reform Act 1988 have induced some of the most radical and widespread changes within the outdoor sector in recent years. In trying to encourage and assist young people to take up outdoor opportunities, the outdoor community faces a number of difficulties. These include a lack of cohesion and poor image, increasing commercialisation, and the effects of changing leisure interests. The thesis recommends greater collaboration within the community, possibly through a new organisation, to represent a wider range of interests and to act as a more effective lobbying mechanism. It also recommends a strengthening of the links between the outdoor sector and the key players involved in facilitating outdoor opportunities. Finally, it advises organisations to take heed of newly emerging Government statements on out-of-school learning. These may offer viable alternatives to help safeguard young people's opportunities to participate in outdoor activities.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available
Keywords: Feel-good factor; Participation; Adventure