Posted on: February 24th, 2020 by Lost Earth Adventures
Learning Outside the Classroom: every space is a learning space
Recently, we were awarded the Learning Outside the Classroom (LOtC) Quality Badge, but what does this really mean? Is outdoor learning vital to a child’s development? And what about the teachers? Read on to find out more…
What is the LOtC Quality Badge?
Learning outside the classroom is about getting children and young people into a real-world learning experience. The Quality Badge is awarded by the Council for Learning Outside the Classroom.
The award is the first and only nationally-recognised award which combines the essential elements of provision – learning and safety – into one easily recognisable and trusted accreditation scheme.
Why learn outside the classroom?
Direct experience is at the centre of the LOtC. It’s not about what we learn, but about how and where we learn.
Studies have provided compelling evidence to suggest learning outside the classroom helps children and young people both physically and mentally.
What’s more, simply being outside the classroom garners more excitement in pupils, helping with their attention and concentration levels.
The benefits of learning outside the classroom
Of course, the primary benefit of learning outside the classroom is how it affects the mentality of children.
As already mentioned, pupils often have more enjoyment from being outdoors. Independent reports show that pupils are more enthusiastic and more willing to learn as a result. The same reports suggest that, even when pupils return to the classroom, they show an improved standard of attainment, motivation, and behaviour towards learning.
It’s been well-documented that many of us take more from kinetic learning. Imagine yourself as one of your pupils for a moment. What mode of learning would you prefer; to learn about rock formations in the classroom, or to go to the rock formation in-person and learn about it there?
The LOtC finds a mix of the two. On our caving courses, we take school and youth groups deep into complex caving systems.
During the activity, our expert guides explain the rock formations, the geological history of the caves, and how the seasons affect the underground system.
Here, pupils learn what’s required as per the curriculum but do so in a real-life environment.
For teachers, learning in real-life environments often makes it easier to teach. Instead of attempting to garner enthusiasm for learning, the outdoors helps children motivate themselves.
This improved attitude to learning then rubs off on others, helping the class as a whole be more determined and interested.
Though some teachers think outdoor learning is not inclusive to Special Educational Needs and Disabilities (SEND), the reality is quite different. As part of the LOtC Quality Badge, those accredited must understand and meet the needs of education providers. As holders of the award, we endeavour to provide activities that can be undertaken by everybody.
This level of inclusivity also applies to those from disadvantaged backgrounds – by providing all equipment, for instance. While learning inside the classroom may fail to include disadvantaged children, outdoor learning is proven to increase their self-esteem, confidence and overall engagement.
What is Ofsted’s view?
In a report, Ofsted found that learning outside the classroom contributed significantly to raising standards and improving students’ personal, social and emotional development.
As LOtC Quality Badge and AALA license holders, you can have absolute trust in our ability to deliver outdoor learning that is safe and conducive to this development.
Posted on: February 13th, 2020 by Lost Earth Adventures
Wondering how fit do you have to be for Everest Base Camp?
Our veteran guide, Nev, has led many treks in Nepal and he’s always itching to get back out there. Finally, we sat him down for a moment or two to ask him all about how, why and when to train for a trekking holiday. Read on for his top tips, tricks and habits to make your life-changing trek even more enjoyable.
For most of us, trekking to Everest Base Camp is, by definition, a challenge. Trekking back involves some effort, too!
If you plan on trekking to it, you might have asked yourself: are you fit enough?
If you have asked yourself that, I’ll start off with some of the really good news…
Fun fact: The Base Camp trek favours tortoises over hares. Even if you take the shortcut of flying into Lukla and trekking from there, you still have eight trekking days to get to Base Camp. This is nobody’s idea of a sprint event. It’s about being slow and steady.
What’s more, we at Lost Earth Adventures arrange your baggage to be carried by porters (there being no roads after Lukla). All you have to carry is your day pack.
Even better, of the eight trekking days, two are usually ‘acclimatisation days’ where you walk unencumbered to a notable viewpoint and back again.
Getting used to that air
Acclimatisation to altitude is exactly why there are strict rules as to how far you walk uphill each day.
The rule is that you don’t sleep more than 300 metres higher than your previous night’s sleep.
This means that the average trekking day (for the average trekker, I might add!) is limited to about seven hours’ trekking.
Don’t forget, the route out is the same as the route in. If the trekking or the altitude prove too much, there are always options to descend early or to wait for the return of the rest of your group.
None of this is to suggest that you can or should attempt this without serious preparation. The more your body is stressed, the harder it is to acclimatise to the altitude.
We do everything we can to ensure you’re well-fed, well-rested and fully hydrated. These things go a long way in aiding your adjustment, but they can’t do anything to improve your fitness. That needed to happen months ago.
Once you’ve decided to do the trek, you should start training as soon as possible.
At the very least, improved fitness ensures you can enjoy more of the views all around you and less of the sight of your shoes as you pant for breath.
There’s more than one facet as to how you should prepare your body, and I like to break it down into lungs, legs, knees and back.
The body is a temple
If you go hill walking in the UK, you’ll find your ascents are first slowed down by either your lungs or your legs. You either start puffing and panting which means your lungs can’t get enough oxygen into your body, or your legs ache because they haven’t got enough muscle to process that oxygen.
The situation is different, and simpler, with Himalayan trekking. The higher you ascend, the less oxygen available to you. Getting your lungs in good fettle is essential. Improving their capacity is quite straightforward: get them out of breath. Frequently.
If the only time you’re breathless is running for buses, cut out the middleman and just go for a post-work run. Don’t worry about the distance for now. Just make sure it’s easy enough that you don’t injure yourself, but hard enough that you end up out of puff.
Of course, it doesn’t have to be running. Other aerobic exercise including swimming and cycling work well, as does uphill walking.
Although walking uses all the body, uphill walking specifically targets the quads, the muscles on the front of the thighs that help you push your body up against gravity.
As is often the case, the best training methodology is to do the activity you’re targeting. If you’re feeling confident, you could go big by training on longer or more frequent ascents, or carrying a weighted pack on your bag.
If you can’t get into the hills regularly, you can work on carrying a load on the flat. Like all aspects of training, it helps if you can get into a routine. Maybe get into the habit of walking to the supermarket and bringing home the goods in your rucksack?
Avoiding the jelly legs
Carrying heavy loads uphill is one thing. Carrying them back down is something else entirely.
Any preparation for Everest Base Camp should include the walk down as much as the walk up.
Everyone’s knees take a hammering to one degree or another, which is something that neither swimming nor cycling can prepare you for.
Running is excellent preparation for it, but some of us find running is a little jarring on our delicate knees.
That said, your trekking poles are there for this very reason, so make sure you have yours to hand.
Back to basics
While you won’t have to bring much on the trek, you will carry a 30 litre pack on your back every day. Make sure your pack feels comfortable on your back by filling it up, adjusting the straps and wearing it for a few hours. If it’s not comfortable, do yourself a favour and choose a different one!
The nitty gritty
OK, so you’re determined enough to get going. It’s time to put some numbers on this thing.
When should you start training? No time like the present.
Most people start with 3-4 x 30 minute sessions of sustained activity at moderate intensity per week. Moderate intensity means raising your heart rate and getting you slightly out of breath.
With the introduction over, time to move on to the main part of your training. This should be 4-6 x 45-60 minute aerobic sessions of sustained activity, including a gentle warm-up and cool-down with stretches.
This kind of exercise might include running, walking on an inclined treadmill, doing stair-master training, trail running, working on an elliptical machine, walking up and down hills, or joining an aerobics class.
Though biking, rowing and swimming are good alternatives, they don’t put much load onto your spine. If you decide to train with these activities, make sure you work your back.
Prominent hill walking
If you’re able to get out into the UK mountains, it’s good to start with a hike which gains up to 300 metres of elevation over a 4-6 miles round trip while carrying an 3.5kg (8-pound pack). With each walk, try adding another pound until you’re comfortable with a 7kg (15-pound pack), then increase elevation. The end aim is to gain 900 metres in 3 hours with a 7kg pack.
If you live in a flat area, you can make the most out of stairs and inclined treadmills. Find terrain which will simulate hill walking, such as gravel beds, sand dunes, river banks and walking on beaches.
Interval training is pushing your body to a certain limit, then giving yourself a set time to recover before going again. Push yourself hard, then time how quickly you recover. Keep practicing and add elevation and weight as your trek nears.
About a month before your trek, you should be at the conditioning level where you are comfortable hiking on consecutive days. This involves hiking with about 7kg (15 pounds) on the first day for at least 600-900 metres of elevation gain, and a somewhat lighter pack for greater mileage on the second day to simulate two days of trekking in a row. It’ll not only help you physically but will prepare you mentally for pushing on without adequate recovery time.
All part of the service
Of course, it’s up to you to get your training plan right, so let’s look at this from a different angle. Imagine the disappointment of getting out there and being unable to make it to Base Camp? Or, instead of training to make it there, use it as motivation to get fit(ter). What better motivation?
That acclimatisation you built up will linger for a while on your return, too. You’ll feel how ridiculously efficient at getting oxygen to your muscles your body is. Though it will wear off after maybe three weeks, there’s nothing stopping you from reaching any Personal Bests from walking to running to cycling and more. All part of the service. Go for it!
Posted on: January 29th, 2020 by Lost Earth Adventures
A Micro-Adventure Canoeing Down the River Ure
It was a cold day in January and the River Ure was in full spat. In the distance, wisps of white water trundled downwards. Rapids. I was sat in a Canadian canoe, and although I am in fact a full-fledged, maple syrup loving Canadian, I am most definitely not a canoer! I felt like a fish out of water, as I scoped out this small section of rapids.
Up until this point, it had been a thoroughly relaxing affair. My husband, Richard and I were having a lazy morning, drinking coffee with no real plans in place. But, we opened the blinds and the sky was a bright blue. It would be criminal to stay indoors on a day like that. So, we hatched a plan to go on a micro-adventure; canoeing from Ripon to Boroughbridge. As a climber and hiker primarily, I’m more akin to solid ground, so this was an exciting prospect.
Canoeing From Ripon to Boroughbridge
The journey would take us on a beautiful 13-km stretch of river. It’s an area abundant with wildlife, including kingfishers and otters. The trip can be done in around 5-hours, and for the most part, meanders its way quietly through the beautiful Yorkshire countryside.
We arrived at the put-in point, which is in a field managed by the BCU (British Canoe Union) and was swiftly greeted by Mr. Snuffles, a very hairy and inquisitive pig, with a big toothy grin! After a few pets and ear scratches, we made our way to the river. It may have been sunny, but it was still winter so we donned wetsuits and neoprene gloves and booties.
The first proper gander at the river and it looked swift; intimidating to my novice eyes. But, Richard is an adventurous paddler, having kayaked wild Himalayan and icy Canadian rivers in the past. With him at the helm, I felt confident we could go for it!
It seems counter-intuitive, but when you enter into flowing water, you situate your boat facing up the river, in an eddy, which is a circular current separate from the main flow of the river. You paddle up the river, lean into the main flow, paddle hard and the current turns you around so that you’re now facing downstream. So, that’s what we did, and away we were.
Paddling the Rapids
From the banks, the river looked swift, but once we were actually in it, and paddling, it was pretty chilled out. What a fantastic means to while away an afternoon! But, wait! There was that chute in the distance, and the closer we got the faster the river went and in my eyes that rapid looked HUGE! We tucked into an eddy and Richard went to scope out our options for the best line.
He came running up the bank and shouted, “it looks great, we’ll run it, grab your paddle and follow my lead, we’re taking the biggest line!” I weighed up my options and decided I was okay with falling in (this was my original fear, mainly due to the cold temperatures), I had a thick 5mm wetsuit, a buoyancy aid, and a helmet. The power of positive thinking seemed to work because as we approached I paddled hard and found myself absolutely loving it. The rapid was short-lived and when we were in the thick of it, it didn’t seem that big. We rocked it!
Regular paddlers may laugh, the rapid was no more than a Grade 1 (entry-level) and in the summer this section would be no more than a ripple. But, at that moment I truly felt alive.
But, at that moment I truly felt alive!
The rest of the trip was a gentle, relaxing saunter downstream, all the way to Boroughbridge. We passed the beautiful gardens of Newby Hall, bypassed a lock where the canal joins the river and just, took it all in. We ended the day with a celebratory pint at the Grantham Arms, raising our glasses to a very successful and rewarding micro-adventure!
The Ripon – Boroughbridge canoe trip is best done in the spring, summer, and autumn months, but can be done year-round. For the most part, this is a gentle river trip and can be undertaken by complete novices, perfect for a fun, adventurous day out. The rapid mentioned is only sizeable (maximum Grade 1 rapid) in the winter months and can easily be bypassed. There’s also the option to take the canal down for the first part of the trip and join the River Ure later on downstream.