MSPs have been warned centres could close permanently without immediate support #NeverMoreNeeded
Pupils, parents and teachers have joined the campaign to save Scotland’s outdoor education centres ahead of a Scottish Parliament debate on Tuesday.
Every year, more than 100,000 young people go on a residential trip to one of the 40 centres in Scotland.
However, under Scottish Government coronavirus guidelines no residential trips can take place, and without urgent funding it is predicted that approximately half of the centres will never reopen.
A review is scheduled for December, but campaigners have urged ministers to bring this forward and commit to keeping centres open for the benefit of future visitors. A petition calling for support has already gained over 18,000 signatures.
This week, pupils, parents and teachers have been taking to social media to highlight the health, wellbeing and emotional impact of these centres, with many suggesting that they don’t want other young people to miss out on the same experiences that they have enjoyed.
And P7 pupils from Belmont Primary School in Dumfries and Galloway have written to education secretary John Swinney and produced a video highlighting how important their school camp was to them.
In the letter, the pupils spoke of their visit to Barcaple Outdoor Centre, saying: “We want to express our extreme disappointment after reading that outdoor education centres across Scotland are facing potential closure because of Covid-19.We want other children to experience the sense of achievement , fun and enjoyment that we has at Barcaple.”
Gregor Mitchell, Scouts Scotland MSYP from Dunfermline has also expressed his worry that outdoor residential centres could close.
The 17-year-old said: “These centres provide opportunities for young people who will really benefit from it, myself included. Both in Scouting and with my school, I created memories that will last a lifetime. It’s scary to think young people may not be able to experience what I did.”
Teachers have also given their support to the campaign by sharing the impact that a school camp has on their pupils, and their own memories of trips.
Mr Devine, a PE teacher at Dalry and St John’s Primary in Edinburgh said: “I have been able to see first-hand the huge impact that going away on a residential trip has on pupils. The reality is that school camp is the highlight for most of these kids' entire primary school. Memories for a lifetime and skills learned for life.”
The #SaveYourOutdoorCentres campaign is urging all people in Scotland who have benefitted from a residential experience over the years, as well as teachers, youth workers, support networks for young people with additional needs, and any parents and young participants who have recently benefited from a residential outdoor learning experience, or who were looking forward to their turn, to write to their MSPs and the government and demand they #SaveYourOutdoorCentres.