Let me first explain what I mean by the word adventure. Adventure is defined as an unusual and exciting activity. For example, this could be a trip or new experience, either abroad or closer to home. It could be learning a new skill, team-building, traveling, or meeting others. I think young people want adventure, and more importantly, I think they also need it. Young people need to try new things, meet new people and learn about the world first hand.
Personally, I find it exciting and fun to have the opportunity to attempt new things, especially surrounded with your friends. Young people are at a stage in their lives when they are learning more about themselves and their personalities. They need the chance to have new experiences. We are forced to make decisions about our future career and aspirations early so we need some way to discover what is important to us. We are always told to follow the things that interest us, so trying new things will increase the chance of finding areas we want to pursue. This will allow us to make more informed choices about our futures. Adventures teach us about the world and ourselves, making us more happy, intelligent, and well-rounded individuals.
We additionally need more adventure for young people because of the stress that is placed on them.
Young people, like myself, face a multitude of pressures from various sources — school, friends, parents and even themselves. School creates academic pressure to do well and there can also be peer pressure, to behave, look and act a certain way. It’s different for individuals, but pressure can come from family or wider society. Often, this is multiplied by social media and sometimes, these pressures can build up. This can lead to mental health problems, such as anxiety and stress disorders. This means the ability to adventure is dampened, but the desire and need for adventure increases. According to research done by One Poll, 22% of boys and 18% of girls, 13 to 18 believe they had never had a real life adventure. The lack of opportunities for young people to explore the world prevents adventure from happening. Travel and adventure can improve mental wellbeing but according to a Natural England study, only one in five children regularly play outside.
So if young people want to adventure, why is it not happening?
I believe there is a severe lack of access to opportunities that allow us to try new things. Unfortunately, adventure often can’t be offered by school, and even outside of school, there is little to no ways to learn something about the world first-hand. Despite the benefits of adventure, the inequality of opportunities and other barriers prevent many young people from adventuring. I have been lucky enough to adventure with my local theatre group. We were given the chance to explore and create films about the Dorothy Clive Garden. This opportunity allowed us to meet an oral historian, who taught us how to take oral histories. Later, we interviewed patrons of the Dorothy Clive Garden to find interesting stories to base our films on. We were allowed to explore the gardens on our own and write stories and poetry. This opportunity, while not extreme, was definitely fun as we could spend time with each other, and were able to escape from our daily pressures . All young people need chances like this one.
An adventure doesn’t have to be bold and daring; it could even just be the chance to meet someone new or travelling somewhere. Learning about a different perspective or culture could change someone's life or opinions on important matters, such as race, class or gender. The impact of these essential life experiences are wide; they can develop communication skills, reduce anxiety, increase organisation and adaptability and help young people to be prepared for the adult world. Adventures also tackle loneliness, as they can produce strong bonds between young people and create long-lasting memories.
More schemes like DofE and NCS and charities like YHA would give young people the opportunity to adventure, which is vital to build resilience, team working skills and confidence. DofE, NCS and the YHA do incredible work to improve the lives of young people by providing adventure, but there are still so many young people who could enjoy such opportunities. Creating more awareness of the benefits that adventure has for young people is the first step to bring in more funding and chances for adventure for everyone. Young people need adventure as it makes all the difference to their lives.