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IOL Conferences & Special Events

The 2012 Conference - our biggest yet

A wonderfully energised gathering full of ideas and with a great atmosphere.

It was fantastic to see new friendships and connections being forged with exciting new ideas and projects ahead.

We'd like to thank all 230 of you who attended.

A special big thank you to the leaders, presenters, exhibitors, sponsors and the team at our venue at Yarnfield.

Keynotes, Discussion, Forums, Masterclasses, Workshops

ready to open the conference

Elspeth Mason, Vice Chair; John Crosbie, Chair and Andy Robinson, CEO ready for the Conference to begin.

A flavour of the Conference.....

Roots & Wings

  • We launched "Roots & Wings. A history of outdoor education and outdoor learning in the UK" the new book by Ken Ogilvie.
    Ken was our special guest at the Conference where he signed copies and meet delegates.

  • Thank you everyone who completed the online Conference feedback survey. Your responses are much appreciated and are invaluable in helping us plan the next National Conference in 2014. The name of the person to win a Mountain Hardwear 6L Hydration Pack by completing the survey has been drawn. Congratulations to Nick Winder.

Papers from Keynotes, Masterclasses and Workshops


  • Keynote Speakers: Dr Peter Clough and Doug Strycharczyk on the research and development that has led to the use of a model of mental toughness in sport, education and the business world. POWERPOINT HERE


  • Models for Engaging People with Disabilities with John Ford POWERPOINT HERE
  • Into the Wilds: Using creative research and evaluation methods with young people in outdoor and experiential learning settings? with Kaz Stuart and Dr Lucy Maynard POWERPOINT HERE
  • 21st Century Team Building with Bob Larcher -  POWERPOINT HERE
  • Young People as Leaders with Sarah Burgess - SLIDES HERE and HANDOUT
  • Putting a philosophy for Adventure Therapy into Practice with Stephan Natynczuk - POWERPOINT


  • Conference Programme page HERE

  • Download the Brochure HERE

  • Download the Masterclass/Workshop HERE

    TWITTER Feed is #IOLConf12

Event Elements

  • FRIDAY: Morning: Keynote speakers. Discussion and strategy. Keynote Speakers: Dr Peter Clough and Doug Strycharczyk will speak explaining the research and development that has led to the use of a model of mental toughness in sport, education and the business world (CLICK FOR MORE INFORMATION). The conference were asked to consider the lessons that may be drawn for the outdoor learning community from this journey.
  • Afternoon: Masterclass workshops aimed at experienced practitioners. The masterclasses were a combination of input and discussion. 
    • FRIDAY MASTERCLASSES: A combination of input and discussion.  The class leaders have relevant experience in the topic and will either be presenting research or practice based materials to support discussions considering further learning and application.
    • Connecting research with practice in outdoor learning: what's in it for all of us? with Dr Chris Loynes and Dr Kaye Richards
    • Environmental Leadership with Dr Kate Rawles
    • Community Engagement with Di Collins
    • Into the Wilds: Using creative research and evaluation methods with young people in outdoor and experiential learning settings? with Kaz Stuart and Dr Lucy Maynard
    • Putting a philosophy for Adventure Therapy into Practice with Stephan Natynczuk
    • 21st Century Team Building with Bob Larcher
    • Models for Engaging People with Disabilities with John Ford
    • Young People as Leaders with Sarah Burgess
    • The Future of Outdoor Learning – not just for children! with Heather Brown and Barbara Humberstone
    • Beyond the Quality Badge with Andy Pratt of FSC and Carolyn Maxwell of RSPB
  • FRIDAY EVENING: Pre-dinner speaker Paul Rose, dinner and quiz with prizes.
    Paul RoseWe were delighted to welcome Paul Rose as Guest Speaker on Friday evening before dinner. Paul is Vice President of the Royal Geographical Society and Chair of the Expeditions and Fieldwork Division. He is an expert polar, exploration and field science consultant. His new BBC documentary, Frank Wild: Antarctica’s Forgotten Hero, went out on BBC ONE in March and on BBC TWO in April 2012. Paul’s television presenting credits include;  Britain’s Secret Seas, Oceans, Voyages of Discovery, Take One Museum, Meltdown, Wind and Scrapheap Challenge. Visit his website here:

  • Outdoor film maker Terry Abraham filmed and photographed the event. Watch this space for his film!

Conference 2012 Keynotes
Keynote Speakers: Dr Peter Clough and Doug Strycharczyk.

    With the Olympics upon us, is there anything Outdoor Learning can take from the world of sport?

    How a pupil or employee or colleague responds to stressors can make a big difference to their ability to learn, collaborate or be creative or productive. The outdoor learning community is well placed to support a wide population of businesses, schools and colleges.

    IOL’s national conference on 12 & 13th October will provide presentation and debate on lessons to be drawn from the sports world’s work on the measurement and development of mental toughness. This a good opportunity to consider questions such as:

    • How do outdoor learning practitioners explore the issues of challenge and response to stressors?
    • Are we too passive in considering resilience?
    • Are we clear about the implications of using ‘challenge by choice for outdoor learning in adventurous environments?
    • How do we help those we work with develop their awareness of their own resilience and mental toughness and the ways in which that may be developed?

    Dr Peter Clough and Doug Strycharczyk will speak on Friday 12th explaining the research and development that has led to the use of a model of mental toughness in sport, education and the business world. The conference will be asked to consider the lessons that may be drawn for the outdoor learning community from this journey.

    Dr Peter Clough is a leading authority on the application of Mental Toughness across a wide spectrum of sectors and countries. Peter has taken a concept developed and used in sports and made it accessible to all. He is an academic based at Hull University, has published widely and has many international speaking engagements.

    Doug Strycharczyk has worked with Peter since the mid-90s and has played a key role in developing a model to measure and raise awareness of mental toughness. Doug has been central to the wider use of the MTQ48 measure, a tool to measure mental toughness, including the education and youth work sectors. He is currently working with a small number of IOL senior practitioners and is the MD of AQR, a UK based enterprise developing and distributing academically tested tools to support the development of young people 

The 2010 IOL Conference.....

The October 2010 National Conference set out to provide a forum in which the nature and role of adventure in outdoor learning might be examined. The aim was to inform and stimulate an on-going dialogue in the outdoor learning community, as well as wider society, at a time when societal trends and shorter term cost pressures have the potential to lead to a lower value being placed on the benefits of adventure. The strategic role and value of adventure in society needs to be supported by the development of tangible good practice in outdoor learning, so day 2 of the conference was dedicated to a wide range or workshops.

2 Days of Strategic input, Debate and over 30 Workshops

  • Day 1 - Friday 15th October
After a welcome to the Conference, Chris Loynes presented the first Keynote on Adventure in Outdoor Learning. Sustained by a short break for coffee and pastries, delegates debated questions supporting exploration of the keynote topic. Lunch break provided a time to network, visit trade exhibitors and relax in the very pleasant surroundings of Scalford Hall.
A plenary session started the afternoon, identifying some of the questions raised in the morning debate. Two speakers picked up the adventure theme in the afternoon; Alex Minajew of the Scout Association on ‘Sustaining Adventure in Scouting – a practical case study’, followed by ‘Sustainable Adventure’ by Geoff Cooper. Subsequent seminar groups looked at the issues raised.
The formal element of the afternoon concluded with “The Forum – short updates from a cross section of the Outdoor Learning community”. Insights into current and planned activity were provided by Matt Ellis (Adventure Learning Schools), Randall Williams (English Outdoor Council), Lucy Harrison (National Skills Academy), Kaye Richards (IOL Therapeutic Outdoor Practitioners SIG) and Heather Brown (IOL)

The evening began with Fellowship awards being presented (see: and an extremely entertaining illustrated talk by mountaineer Simon Yates. After a break for drinks dinner was served. Teams made up of each table took part in a picture quiz which continued with questions in the main lounge before prize winning teams were presented with sets of goodie bags. A stimulating evening was rounded off with drinks in the lounge and bar.

  • Day 2 - Saturday 16th October

The day dawned bright and clear and the lovely grounds of Scalford Hall presented a perfect autumnal scene. Delegates for the day’s workshops arrived and numbers swelled to over 200. After a short welcome the delegates faced making a choice of three workshops from 36 available.


The answer is a resounding YES. The stimulating mix of discussion and debate on Friday followed by a wide range of practical workshops on the Saturday appears to have produced something of benefit to all who attended. Thank you to everyone who provided feedback. Some very constructive points were collated in the weeks following the event, suggestions for improvement included:

- Providing opportunity for Regions and SIGs to meet during the event
- Allowing more time for networking and repeating more workshops
- Committing more time to reviewing what’s happening in the Outdoor Learning field.


  • Peak Pursuits presented a workshop using their climbing tower
  • Adventure Learning Schools
  • Accreditation with IOL: Reflective Practice.
  • Introduction to Forest School
  • Lemons, Turkeys and Swans - some issues around peer belaying and lessons from accidents
  • Spirituality and Outdoor Learning
  • Basic Water Safety Awareness
  • Mountain bike skills games: discreet learning through fun
  • A Taste of Wild Fire Cooking - Ideas for open fire cooking. (Useful for forest schools, group camping, and anything in the wildwoods and beyond.)
  • Expedition planning and preparation with groups

  • Getting Young People to Tell Their Stories: Using Narrative in Outdoor Personal Development
  • Psychotherapy in the Outdoors: How Adventure Therapy Achieves Results
  • Bushcraft: The Safe Use of Knives
  • The art of performance management and how to apply it in practice
  • Friends or foes: youth work and informal learning
  • Nature Tracker Detective for Educators & Immediate Lost Person Procedure
  • Working with Young People and Difficult Behaviour
  • Inclusion in Outdoor Adventure
  • Equipment Management and Inspection: – Myths & Realities in Outdoor Education
  • Finance for Non-financial Folk

  • Human Error Accidents in Adventure Activities
  • Rigorous Recruitment & Safer Practice
  • What to do After the Accident. Legal and Insurance Perspective
  • Direction Finding Using Nature
  • Bringing a bit of 'philosophy' into Outdoor Learning!
  • Bushcraft Skills - Why the Detail Matters
  • Holistic Leadership
  • Expedition Food Hygiene
  • Creating Psychological Safety: Warm up Exercises Explored
  • Equipment Use, Abuse and Damage - The Effects
  • Global Outdoors – Exploring our wider world to enrich ALL our lives
  • Working Magic with Groups in the Outdoors: The Practical Application of NLP in Outdoor Learning...








Conference Sponsors and Facilitators

Sponsorship is an important aspect of the conference and allows us to bring in organisations who are supportive of IOL and our aims and objectives. It is also a vital element that allows us to keep delegate fees to the lowest possible rates.


Adventure Activity Insurance Scheme 

We’d like to thank our conference sponsors for their invaluable help. More than 20 exhibitors from a variety of companies ranging from software to bushcraft kit suppliers and training organisations were kept busy during all the breaks.

AIM - Activity Insurance Mutual

We'd also like to thank Peak Pursuits who supplied the climbing tower we had on the site and the Scalford Hall team who opened their high ropes course for the use of delegate.

We very much appreciate the support of the organisations and individuals who gave their time and expertise to facilitate discussions and to lead and present workshops.







Outdoor workshops in lovely autumn weather...


...a packed hall for keynote speakers