A Different Way of Learning

A Different Way of Learning, Adventure Based Learning, George Robotham

Is your learning becoming routine and boring? You may like to try adventure based learning. Having been associated for many years with a program that uses adventure based learning in life-style, leadership and team building issues I can see application for this style of learning in many fields.

Adventure based learning works in many ways-

Adventure Based Learning Process

The Individual

Experience a State of


By Being Placed In A

Novel Setting


A Cooperative Environment

While Being Presented With

Unique Problem Solving Situations

That Lead To

Feelings of Accomplishment

Which Are Augmented By

Processing the Experience

Which Promotes

Generalisation and Transfer

To Future Endeavours



Participation asks that the person be present at each activity and participate at whatever level he/she is comfortable. Participation encourages people to be with the group to work together to achieve both individual and group goals.


Respect involves respect for others, respect for yourself and respect for the environment. We ask for a commitment to work towards changing behavior that is not in some way putting down yourself or others.


Safety – Participants need to know that they will be safe. Safety needs to be both emotional and physical. Putting safety up as a principle at the start of the program says that we care about what happens to you and we ask for a commitment to take responsibility for your own safety and to that of other members of the group. There also needs to be a perception of safety by the group so we invite challenges to the leader for more information if there are any concerns.


Legal – A commitment to work within the framework of the law.

Source-A course in program development & facilitation, The Outlook, Boonah , Qld. Dept. of Families, Youth & Community Care

'PActive abseiling crew' photo (c) 1998, Lars Plougmann - license: http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0/Adventure based learning can take many forms – Problem solving in the bush, map reading with a treasure hunt, canoeing is a low stress approach, camping overnight, work environment simulations, puzzles, storey telling, observation of the environment various team activities etc. The learning, problem solving and relationship building that is experienced around the campfire at night should not be underestimated. Adventure based learning has been given a bad name by a small number of gung ho, charge through the bush trainers. Proper adventure based learning will have a very high emphasis on participant safety. It does not need to have high levels of physical challenge. Some programs have the focus on the outdoor experience when the focus should be on the learning.

Adventure based learning is different, most people enjoy it, does not have to be physically challenging, can be a great relationship builder and, with thought, can be applied to a wide variety of learning. One word of caution is that if you are camping overnight you need to let people they will have to rough it. For the people who are phased by the lack of their own bed, basic meals and the possibility of no showers or toilets you are better off not taking them.

George Robotham

George Robotham

George was a Legend in the Safety World who passed away in Sept 2013 but left us with a great legacy
George Robotham
I have worked in OHS for most of my working life, many years in the mining industry including over 10 years in a corporate OHS role with BHP. Since leaving the mining industry I have worked in a variety of safety roles with a variety of employers, large & small, in a variety of industries. I was associated with my first workplace fatality at age 21, the girl involved was young, intelligent, vivacious and friendly. Such a waste! I was the first on the scene and tried to comfort her and tend to her injuries. She said to me “George, please do not let me die” We put her on the aerial ambulance to Rockhampton base hospital where she died the next day. I do not mind telling you that knocked me around for awhile. Since then I have helped my employers cope with the aftermath of 12 fatalities and 2 other life-altering events. The section "Why do Occupational Health & Safety" provides further detail but in summary, poor safety is simply very expensive and also has a massive humanitarian cost. My qualifications include a certificate I.V. in Workplace Training and Assessment, a Diploma in Frontline Management, a Diploma in Training & Assessment Systems, a Bachelor of Education (Adult & Workplace Education) , a Grad. Cert. in Management of Organisational Change and a Graduate Diploma in Occupational Hazard Management. I am currently studying towards a Masters in Business Leadership. Up until recently I had been a Chartered Fellow of the Safety Institute of Australia for 10 years and a member for about 30 years. My interest is in non-traditional methods of driving organisational change in OHS and I have what I believe is a healthy dis-respect for many common approaches to OHS Management and OHS Training. I hold what I believe is a well-founded perception that many of the things safety people and management do in safety are “displacement activities” (Displacement activities are things we do, things we put a lot of energy into, but which when we examine them closely there is no valid reason for doing them). My managerial and leadership roles in OHS have exposed me to a range of management techniques that are relevant to Business Improvement. In particular I am a strong supporter of continuous improvement and quality management approaches to business. I believe leadership is the often forgotten key to excellence in most aspects of life. I hold the Australian Defence Medal and am a J.P.(Qualified). I have many fond memories of my time playing Rugby Union when I was a young bloke.

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