Cairngorms Outdoor Adventure Programme
A collaborative programme offering school pupils the chance to experience life in the great outdoors took place last week. This project was first mooted by the River Dee Trust and after a bit of work getting all the collaborative partners on board the programme went ahead. The Cairngorms Outdoor Adventure Programme was a joint venture by National Trust for Scotland, River Dee Trust, John Muir Trust and the Cairngorms National Park Authority, in conjunction with Aberdeenshire Council and Sportscotland.
The inaugural event, began on Monday, May 28, saw 29 pupils from Banchory Academy, Mackie Academy in Stonehaven and Mearns Academy in Laurencekirk receiving John Muir Awards after taking part in five days of activities at Mar Lodge Estate, near Braemar. The programme gave pupils the chance to learn about the local environment, local economy and employment opportunities. It was also aimed at developing an understanding of the people who live and work in the Cairngorm National Park area, and the variety of organisations which manage it. Pupils took part in a range of activities including mountain biking, fishing, mini Highland games, gorge-walking and animal watching.
The Cairngorms Outdoor Adventure Programme received funding from the John Lewis Partnership and equipment from Tiso’s and the Glasgow Angling Centre. Managers from the John Lewis Partnership were also at the Mar Lodge Estate helping to coordinate the inaugural event. It is hoped that support from these organisations will ensure the programme becomes an annual event on the schools curricular activity week.
Dr Lorraine Hawkins from the River Dee Trust said: “We hope that this allowed the participating children to appreciate and understand our river and environment whilst having fun.” Chair of Aberdeenshire Council’s Education, Learning and Leisure (ELL) committee, Isobel Davidson, said: “We are delighted to see a number of our schools associated with this exciting new partnership programme in the Cairngorm National Park to experience the wonderful surroundings of Mar Lodge and the River Dee. Active Aberdeenshire, including Active Schools, is keen to see our residents enjoy the outdoors and different learning environments. The youngsters will learn about the Scottish Outdoor Access Code and opportunities for careers and enjoyment in the outdoors.” Alan Smith from the John Muir Trust said: “The pupils will be using the nationally recognised John Muir Award to learn about the special qualities of the Cairngorms National Park.”
ELL vice chair, Ron McKail, said: “Providing our young people with these opportunities in a challenging outdoor activity education programme in the Cairngorms is a tremendous personal experience for them. “It will help to promote their self-esteem, make them more confident and develop their leadership and interpersonal skills.” David Frew, from the National Trust for Scotland, said: “The National Trust for Scotland was delighted to be able to host this event on the Mar Lodge Estate. The estate provides an amazing backdrop for the event and we very much looked forward to working with the children and other organisations over the course of the week, allowing the children to experience all that this fantastic landscape has to offer.”