Choosing learning objectives

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Choosing learning objectives

What are learning objectives? 

When we talk about learning objectives we simply mean a short description of what you want to achieve from your residential.  Think of your programme and activities like a ball of clay – it can be shaped into lots of different things, you’re learning objective helps to define and guide what the finished piece of work looks like.   

By thinking about the specific skills or traits you would like the young people in your group to work on we can help you to shape the programme and the focus of your activities to support development that you think is most relevant.   

Residentials with purpose 

For a small number of young people participating in an activity may inspire them to take up a new sport, we might inspire a future Olympian, but for most young people that’s not really what it’s all about.  Your residential will give you the chance to get to know your group in ways you didn’t before, build trust through shared experiences, and show young people that they can achieve exciting things. It does this through the right combination of challenge, collaboration, daring and reflection – or, as we like to call it, adventure. 

The programme you complete will provide your group with rich learning experiences, new challenges and opportunities they may never have had before – however the residential and our instructors cannot achieve your groups learning objectives on their own.  Your programme is designed to provide concrete experiences and context which you can then reference when you are back in the real world, building on the experiences they had while they were away.  A climbing session won’t make your group great collaborators but it can be a great part of your journey to teach them the skills of collaboration.

Why do we need to think about our objectives? 

By thinking about and sharing your objectives with us we can make subtle changes to your programme and the way in which activities are delivered to focus on the things that you care the most about.  See some examples of learning objectives and the subtle ways an activity can be tailored to support that objective in the table below.

What if we don’t have a specific objective we want to work on? 

If you don’t have a specific objective in mind then we’ll create your programme and deliver your sessions to focus on our standard set of outcomes – these are aligned to the purpose and method of Scouts. This means we’ll encourage participants to; enjoy what they are doing and have fun, take part in outdoor activities, learn by doing, take responsibility, make choices, and undertake new and challenging activities. We’ll also encourage them to act in line with our core values of integrity, respect, care, belief and cooperation. 



Example – Climbing session

Collaborative workers 

This objective is about getting group members to work together to achieve a common goal.  Through participation in activities they learn to communicate their needs, listen to and support others, and build trust in their peers.

Participants who are not on the wall are asked to coach the climber – explaining options and routes, helping them by sharing their literally different point of view.

Resilient Learners 

Learning from your mistakes and to picking your self-back up when things don’t go to plan is an important skill for life.  This objective is about encouraging group members to have a go, reflect on their experience and try again.

Participants are encouraged to identify a move which is difficult and stick with it until they can make progress – coming back to try again if they don’t succeed at first.

Creative problem solvers 

This objective sets groups challenges and asks them to think creatively about how they solve the problems they face. Great problems solvers are able to combine knowledge and ideas from different people and different experiences. 

Participants are given simple challenges while they climb – only using certain colours, or holds, or climbing with a tennis ball at the same time

Adventurers and risk takers 

Personal growth happens most effectively when we step outside of our comfort zones,   This objective encourages young people to stretch themselves and try something that might seem scary or difficult at first.

Participants identify a personal challenge to overcome – this could be as simple as climbing off the floor, or could be trying the most difficult route on the wall.

Engagement and Trust Building 

This objective builds shared experiences and shows group members that others are here to support them.  One of the real benefits of outdoor education is the opportunity to build effective working relationships between young people and their peers, but also with their teachers/leaders. 

This can be achieved by focusing on how the belay team are supporting the climber, as well as encouraging the leader/teacher to take an active role in the experience alongside the young people.

Inspiring Leaders 

Developing great leaders is at the heart of what Scouting is all about.  With this objective we’ll encourage group members to take responsibility and give them opportunities to make decisions which guide the outcome of the session. 

Participants take turns completing assigned responsibilities for the group – this could be working out where everybody should be, or double checking that everyone is ready to begin a new climb.

Academic Application 

This objective gives you real world examples to show group members why the theory matter – whether that is map reading for Geography or calculating the forces on a 3G swing.  You bring the curriculum, we’ll supply the adventure.

Investigating how adventure affects heart rate – participants take their pulse at the start of the session and then again before and after their climb.

Technical Skills 

Focused on developing personal skills in the specific activities completed this objective is about becoming better at a particular sport – e.g. learning to climb, or becoming a better archer. 

Participants are taught techniques to help them climb more effectively thinking about their body position and use of their hands and feet.


Find activities by objective