Leading reading;Cross-phase;Reviews;Outdoor education;Books

9th July 1999 at 01:00
OUTDOORS WITH YOUNG PEOPLE:a leader's guide to outdooractivities, the environmentand sustainability. By Geoff Cooper. Russell House, 4 St George's House, Uplyme Road Business Park, Lyme Regis, Dorset DT7 3LS. pound;14.95

Publishers often advertise their books as "the complete guide to . . .". While Russell House may have considered this for Outdoors With Young People, the book actually considers that neglected person, the reader. For although it will function as a working tool, its true value is as a stimulus. Curl up in the chair after a hard day and enjoy. It is guaranteed to inspire and energise.

The first hint that this is a thoughtful book lies in its title. This is not solely about outdoor activities but covers their wider relationship to the environment. It also embraces every type of leader, from teacher to community worker. It encourages intelligent thinking ahead of list-making, and ideals and aims are given more prominence than curriculum needs. Words such as heritage, cherish, peace, solitude and empowerment enrich the pages.

Above all, Outdoors With Young People is a positive book. Geoff Cooper points out that the outdoors begins on the doorstep. Walking over the park - even in the middle of a big city - is still being in the outdoors. But he still wants to send you all over the place, the north of England especially. The good news here is that footpath erosion is not vandalism. You can go and visit, and even scramble up gills, but just make sure you follow a few well-explained rules.

Slightly off the beaten track, the author covers such topics as art in the outdoors, how leaders can encourage spiritual self-awareness, the benefits of time alone and ways in which working with nature can encourage co-operation, human connectivity and personal responsibility. He even includes prayers and poems and, of course, hard information such as addresses, safety hints, check lists and so on.

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