Meeting at Buckingham Palace reviews the Campaign for Adventure’s impact and next moves

– HRH Prince Philip, MPs and educators agree on the need for more risk-taking and adventure in our lives.

Chaired by journalist Libby Purves and hosted by HRH Prince Philip in Buckingham Palace, the Campaign for Adventure was today told it had made good progress towards moving the UK back towards being a healthy adventurous society, but there was still much to do.

Twelve representatives of the Campaign for Adventure accepted this opportunity to review the success of the campaign to date and to look at where more effort might be needed in the future.

Alan Egdell, primary school ‘Super-Head’ stated We are getting there. The campaign has caused a real improvement. As a nation we are better about risk and about red-tape now but there remains a serious red-tape issue which is stopping a lot of really great education. We must get risk and experience properly into early learning. Good schools have risk and adventure education very present within them. A life without risks is just so boring, and so too is education without risks. ”. Supporting his colleague, Sir William Atkinson, famous for his role in the TV programme “The Unteachables”, stated: “Pupils must get out – doing things and experiencing things and taking real risks. Great education is all about pupils doing things they would not dream of doing.”. Tim Gill, author of “Re-Thinking Childhood” added “Children are being cheated of everyday experiences and responsibility. This is a life-long loss.”.

The Campaign lobbies for an understanding of the positive contribution of adventure in our lives, holding the position “that life is best approached in a spirit of exploration, adventure and enterprise”. HRH Prince Philip called for the campaign in 2000 when he stated “The danger is not that we take risks, it is that we do not take enough risks.” Speaking today, Prince Philip said “People in offices without direct experience are valueless in the risk/benefit debate. There really are such things as accidents. Risks evolve as you gain experience allowing progression and learning. The actual management of risk must be through first-hand experience, others – the desk people – simply get it wrong. Regulators should be thinking of the costs and all the other consequences of regulation.”.

Julian Brazier MP, who, as a co-chair of the All Party Parliamentary Group on Adventure, helped drive through the 2006 Compensation Act, stated “I continue to believe this whole risk issue to be so important for education, youth, sport and communities. We need courts to move to a place where ‘reckless disregard’ is the discriminator for courts as it is in much of the US. A tick-box approach does not allow for judgement and opportunity in learning and adventure. Real adventure and risk is a must for education, growing up, enterprise and our strong society.”.

David Ball, Professor of Risk Management: “There is a backlog of people trading-off the risks and benefits of experience. Too much risk aversion prevents real experience and judgement. Balancing healthy risk-taking with avoidance of unhealthy risks is a vital part of growing up. Our young people do not experience sufficient risks due to excessive risk aversion and an imbalance of real experiences which too frequently forms their early lives.”.

Libby Purves, journalist, presenter and author, also concerned with fear of litigation and the way it inhibits enterprise, volunteering and initiative-taking in our society said “We still need an adventure defence fund to support people defending themselves against frivolous litigation. There needs to be enough accidents to show the balance between risks and achievements is right for our achieving and successful society. My husband recently sailed the Atlantic over to Brazil and, on arriving safely, broke his ankle on the hotel steps. A real accident.”.

Randall Williams, adventure & education researcher who chairs the English Outdoor Council, is particularly concerned with institutional risk-aversion. “Risk aversion happens at the institutional level. At this level it is even more pernicious. At the individual level people have choices and enterprising things still happen. This is not so where risk aversion exists in organisations where the real blockers to enterprise remain nameless. Trusting others to make judgements, have the skills and experience, lead others, take initiatives is an important part of a healthy society.”. Charles Harris of the Rank Foundation is concerned that “80% of young people on school trips have never travelled alone themselves! This is their first adventure. To have and accept responsibility is a must for all, a right of passage. As early as we are able to invest in it we should do so – as parents, teachers and government.”.

Steve Howe, previously of the Outward Bound Trust made clear “We should strip away obstacles to experience, learning and real life. Parents who care want the blocks to real experiences removed, so the right things are learned and managed in life. There is a whole generation who do not know. They have a low experience of life. They will make the mistakes.”. Simon Hart MP strongly agreed adding “Adventure and real life education should become a formal part of the national curriculum and a strong part of the Teacher Training Agency outputs. We must build our leaders and help them help others build experience and judgement.”.

The campaign was tasked to continue its efforts through further challenging red-tape, inappropriate compensation-seekers and blocks to real world learning and experience in schools. It will achieve this through a series of six explorations into the value of adventure, enterprise and healthy risk-taking in society at St George’s House, Windsor Castle in collaboration with the Royal Society for Arts. Further details of Campaign for Adventure are available at

For further press information contact:

Ian Lewis, Campaign Coordinator, 01730 233652 / 07802 423502,

The Campaign seeks to show that life is best approached in a spirit of exploration, adventure and enterprise; to influence and better inform attitudes towards risk; to build wider recognition that chance, unforeseen circumstances and uncertainty are inescapable features of life and that absolute safety is unachievable; and to demonstrate that sensible education and preparation enable an appropriate balance to be achieved between risk & safety and achievement & opportunity.”