Two decades ago, McKenzie’s meta-analysis of literature provided six fundamental elements of adventure education programme design still used to guide research and practice today. While the value of McKenzie’s early work should not be underestimated, adventure education has undergone considerable changes. Adventurous activities are now available in urban and indoor contexts and used to facilitate a growing health and wellbeing agenda. The use of risk as part of adventure education programming has also been critiqued. This paper reflects on contemporary notions of adventure, risk and the emergent narratives emphasising the associated psychological benefits. The Ecological Dynamics framework, along with representative design delivery, are presented as a viable way of building on McKenzie’s work. Both consider how effective outcomes in adventure education programmes are achieved through designs that focus on the unique relationship between the individual and their environment. While McKenzie’s six elements recognise the importance of human relationships, Ecological Dynamics forefronts relational elements, not just between participants but, importantly, the task and the environment. Individual participant needs in relation to their everyday life therefore become the focus of adventure education expanding beyond the traditional long-standing narratives of risk and danger. Through these two important concepts, this paper advocates an approach to the design of adventure representative of a participant’s everyday environment. In this way, adventure education outcomes translate beyond the adventure-specific context and align more holistically with the needs of individual participants while also assuring emphasis on individual health and wellbeing.
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