The Importance of the Unplanned and Uncertainty in the Development of Outdoor Leaders


  • Whitney Ward Southern Illinois University, Carbondale


Kurt Hahn is credited with being the unofficial “father†of adventure-based education (Miner, 1999). He deliberately utilized adventure to combat what he felt were the moral declines in society of the day, and in so doing achieved specific outcomes (Richards, 1999). Since those early days at the Salem and later Gordonstoun schools, adventure has been the vehicle used by many to reach desired outcomes. While outcomes can often be “guaranteed,†the means of reaching the outcomes cannot. While promoting Outward Bound, Willi Unsoeld would often address concerns regarding participation. “‘I can't guarantee you or your son won't die,' he was notorious for telling parents bluntly, ‘but I can guarantee you if you continue to stifle him, his soul will surely die.'†(Unsoeld as quoted by Raynolds, 2007, p. 91) Like Hahn, Unsoeld knew the benefits of adventure and the importance of uncertainty.