The inability of young adults to adapt to university life has been attributed to their declining resilience. Resilience refers to any individuals’ capacity to change or modify behaviour in response to environmental hazards, so they thrive. Outdoor Adventure (OA) residential programmes have helped higher education inductees to acquire skills associated with resilience such as increased self-perception, better interpersonal relationships. However, this study addresses important gaps in existing literature by deploying a high-quality research design to examine the short-term impact of OA experiences on inductees’ resilience and to identify the active components of those experiences that best cultivate inductees’ adaptive capabilities. Multivariate analyses evaluated the efficacy of OA programming to build the resilience of over 2500 inductees. Significant positive gains were reported in the resilience of inductees attending 1-week residential OA programmes measured by an Effect size (ES) = 0.38 and 6.29% increase. Compared to students inducted at university, this represented an 8.35% greater increase in resilience (ES difference = –0.526). Camp-based experiences such as mastering new skills, developing new relationships and being female predicted heightened resilience. A defined blend of embodied, adventure-based meaningful challenges provides a template for helping university inductees to re-adjust, grow and persevere.
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