5 Must Do Experiential Learning Practices for Outdoor Education

From exploring in the forest, to hiking in the Himalayan mountains and performing community service in Tibetan villages, at WildChina Education, we believe experiential learning practices are the best way to engage students of all ages.

Experiential learning is defined as: “the process of learning through experience” and, more specifically, “learning through reflection on doing.” The act of doing makes learning extremely personal. As Sir Richard Branson says, “You don’t learn to walk by following rules. You learn by doing and by falling over.” The process of experiential learning involves both self-initiative and self-assessment, as well as hands-on activity.

At WildChina Education, we provide students with well designed hands-on activities in a safe outdoor environment to maximize their experiences and drive home learning objectives. Here are some examples. 

Navigation Know-How 

In today’s digital age, everything is convenient. You can easily get to almost every destination just with the GPS on your phone. It’s extremely user-friendly and easy to carry. However, it’s not a reliable tool to be used in the wilderness as it replies heavily on the service. What would you do if your phone died? Unlike GPS on your phone, a paper map and a simple GPS device is a better choice. Knowing how to use them is vital to survive in the wilderness.

In this navigation activity, students are provided with an opportunity to apply what they’ve been taught to solve real life challenges. Through practice, they learn how to adjust their understandings to achieve the best outcome. 

Experiential Learning Practices - navigation
WildChina Navigation Activity on XilaMuren Grassland, Inner Mongolia

Pitch The Perfect Tent

Understanding how to select the perfect place to set up a tent is extremely important in the wilderness. In the desert, you don’t want to sleep in sandy washes in case of a flash flood, while in the forest you want to ensure you aren’t camped under a dead tree.

This hands-on activity requires practice, problem-solving and decision-making. Through team work and critical thinking, students learn to work more effectively together. 

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WildChina Camping Trip at Mount Siguniang, Sichuan

Finding And Purifying Water

Water filtration has become necessary in most parts of the world due to pollution. We have advanced technology to filter water, but there are natural options that have been used for hundreds and thousands of years before technological alternatives became available. Students are encouraged to find and use the materials in nature to purify dirty water

This learning activity enables students to engage their creative side with the materials they are already carrying to seek their own unique and best solution to a get the cleanest water possible.

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Water Filtration Activity at the Great Wall, Beijing

Community Engagement 

From the rice field in Yangshuo to the potato farms in Tibet, we seek every opportunity to encourage students to contribute to local communities.

Service learning provides students with an opportunity to engage and truly learn from local community members. At WildChina Education, we ensure that both students and local community members benefit long-term from all program activities.

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Service Project at Shangri-La, Yunnan

Practice Leave No Trace

As fun as camping or any other outdoor activity can be, you can leave a lot of waste behind if you aren’t careful (especially when you’re sleeping under the stars with 100 or more of your closest friends). So, before leaving any campsite or other outdoor space, we always make sure to pick up any trash and leave no trace behind. We like to turn it into a game: the person who finds the most trash wins a prize. Just be sure to have a stash of disposable (and ideally biodegradable) gloves on-hand to keep any germs away.

This last, but likely the most important, activity ensures students acknowledge their responsibility in this world to minimize their impact on the outdoors, respect wildlife and be considerate of others. 

We believe that by exposing learners to these hands-on practices, and by being intentional about explaining why they are important, students will go home inspired to incorporate them into their own lives. If you’re inspired and would like to plan an educational adventure with us, get in touch with us at education@wildchina.com.


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