My Big Adventure is a well-established not-for-profit organisation consisting of a small charity, a not-for-profit social enterprise and a consultancy. Our purpose is to help hard-to-reach young people back into education and training or on to employment. We do this because we believe everyone should be given the means to reach their full potential and contribute to the society we would all like to live in. We work directly with schools, academies and colleges (ages 7 – 18 yrs) and various other statutory bodies (16 – 30 yrs).
A particular focus is our pioneering use of ‘solution-focused adventure therapy’ (Natynczuk 2014) to develop the ‘Identity Capital’ of young people (Bateman and Bailey 2011) who are excluded or ‘at risk’ – working with schools and colleges to design bespoke learning programmes, delivered over a term or longer, that re-engage then re-integrate the student with mainstream learning, and for long-term unemployed 16–30 year olds – developing interventions that build emotional resilience alongside necessary employability skills, competences and social capital that enables them to access the labour market.
Since coming to Worcestershire (2001) we have worked with over 400 individuals through various funding schemes. Specialising in working with individuals and very small groups we have a 96% overall attendance record and never have to cancel for lack of numbers to make up an economically viable group.
We work through a unique blend of adventure, therapy and education outdoors and work to increase individual’s identity capital portfolio. As re-engagement increases through improvements in motivation, confidence, social and personal skills pupils find it easier to re-integrate into meaningful, useful education, training or employment, hopefully empowered for a life of learning and self-help.
Using a theoretical model helps us enhance the intrinsic therapeutic qualities of adventure activities and wilderness experiences. It ensures we work within defined parameters and to professional standards and sets us apart from other outdoor-providers. Our practitioners receive regular clinical supervision from an independent, accredited, counselling supervisor. Our practitioners are very experienced both in their specialised activities and as mentors; all are CRB/DBS checked. We are insured with the Activity Industries Mutual and licensed by AALS for rock climbing, mountain walking (summer and winter), cave and mine exploration, abseiling, off-road cycling, canyoning, canoeing and kayaking.
I have been providing Adventure Therapy for nearly three decades and what follows qualifies me to be an adventure therapist: I am a qualified Solution Focused practitioner, holding the Diploma in Solution Focused Practice from BRIEF, with a Masters’ level, counselling supervision qualification, accredited by the National Counselling Society. I am a member of the UK Association of Solution Focused Practitioners and the National Counselling Society. I am governed by the society’s counselling ethics. I hold a clutch of top adventure sports awards from National Governing Bodies allowing me to guide, lead and instruct in caves and mines, on mountains (summer and winter) and on rivers. I hold a PGCE in science and a research-based doctorate from Oxford University.
I am an Honorary Senior Lecturer at the University of Worcester, a Leading Practitioner of the Institute for Outdoor Learning and secretary of the IOL’s Outdoor and Adventure Therapy Special Interest Group. I have enjoyed presenting my work on Adventure Therapy and Supervision at the 6th and 7th International Adventure Therapy Conferences and I co-represent the UK on the IATC committee. I have enjoyed occasionally lecturing on Adventure Therapy at the Universities of Worcester and Central Lancaster and the title of my MBA dissertation is “Perceptions of Professionalism in Adventure Therapy: Towards a Competency Framework”.
Thus the bases of therapy, adventure and experiential education are covered in terms of both depth of qualifications and experience, and I continue to contribute to the development of the discipline in terms of knowledge and best practice. I am proud to be able to confidently declare myself a professional Adventure Therapist.
And here are my very capable and able colleagues…
My role is to work closely with Stephan and the team to make sure the business runs smoothly. I’m a great lover of the outdoors and it’s great to work with an organisation providing fantastic character building and development opportunities for young people in their local environments.
I’ve been learning and participating in the outdoors since I was about 4 years old, and this has given me a great appreciation of the power of the outdoors.
When I left university with a degree in biology and biochemistry, I decided that I would try and find a career that helped people and gave back to society; this led me to start a PGCE as a science teacher. After which I went and completed the Te Aroara trail in New Zealand, a 3000km walk down the length of both islands. After I returned I started working for My Big Adventure, where I found I could help others using the knowledge and skills learnt and practiced on my own adventures.
MBA’s passion and enthusiasm to help people see the best in themselves is evident in the successes its clients go on to enjoy, encouraged and supported by our staff. It is a pleasure and privilege to play some small part in reshaping the lives of all clients for the better.