JCPE - Junior Cycle Physical Education Support Service

You are here  : Home Junior Cycle Teacher Guidelines Areas of Study Adventure Activities Introduction
Adventure Activities - Introduction PDF Print E-mail


A variety of units are described, which are not meant to be prescriptive. The units of work are shaped by the realities of:

  • limited budgets
  • available physical settings
  • the structure of school systems.

The focus is on activities which are sympathetic to the following conditions; low resource, short time available, on site or in the immediate locality, with the minimum of additional training and can be presented in safety by the Physical Education teacher. The selected units of work outlined here are:

  • orienteering
  • team challenges
  • camp craft - Bivouac.

It is envisaged that where circumstances permit the traditional adventure activities e.g. kayaking, rock-climbing can be pursued in the attainment of level 2 aims. The material offered here is intended to provide a number of learning contexts which seek to involve the student in a sense of adventure through a spirit of co-operation and active participation.


The adventure activities presented are offered as a means of enhancing growth, self-confidence and the desire to be involved on the part of the students. Students will be confronted with their own uncertainties and fears in an atmosphere that is sympathetic and understanding. Adventure here is essentially positive in it's expression and is to do with anticipation, energy and exploring the unknown, where failure is clearly possible. Students are confronted with situations where they are dependent on each other. They learn to acknowledge this reality and experience a movement away from dependence to a state of independence or inter-dependence. Adventure activity encounters offer the student an opportunity of living through situations which ultimately help them to work towards their full potential, personal, social, and physical in a safe and enjoyable environment.




To challenge students by providing them with opportunities to develop personally and socially through adventure activities in a safe and enjoyable environment.


  • To develop the skills and techniques which will facilitate enjoyable participation in adventure activities
  • To experience a range of adventure activities with a view to fostering a positive attitude towards further involvement
  • To develop decision-making skills, leadership qualities and an awareness of group dynamics
  • To develop an understanding and appreciation of the need for environmental protection
  • To develop an awareness of personal and group safety with particular reference to the outdoors
  • To assist in the development of personal and social skills.




Orienteering involves finding one's position and one's way with the help of a map and compass. The challenge, excitement and achievement is in finding the fastest route between a series of controls on an orienteering course. There are equal demands on physical and mental ability. Care should be taken to ensure that the courses set should match the students' age, experience and level of fitness. Orienteering can be an enriching agent for other areas of the curriculum. Concepts in mathematics, for example, such as distance, height, area and angles can be examined and tested in reality. Elements of the health related activities unit such as cardiovascular endurance can usefully be dealt with in orienteering.

Team Challenges

Students are engaged in significant challenges where they are required to work together as a group towards a common goal, which could not be accomplished individually. The students are confronted with real or novel problems to work with and with opportunities to undertake their own thinking and organisation. The learning context is rich with potential for social and personal growth. Success requires responsibility, co-operation, trust, leadership, resourcefulness and perseverance. There is a need to recognise, value and utilise the differing talents among the group. Through enhanced understanding and personal experiences in problem solving situations, it is envisaged that positive transfer will occur to other life situations.

Camp Craft/Bivouac

Through living and moving in the outdoor environment, students are introduced to the realities of sustaining independent travel. The students are acquainted with the skills and considerations which enable them to accommodate themselves effectively in the outdoors. Careful handling of equipment, selection of campsite or bivouac site and the concern and respect for the natural environment are central to this unit.



Teachers are recommended to devise an adventure activities course at level 1, based on the units of work previded here, i.e., orienteering, team challenges and campcraft. These form a foundation for all adventure activities in focusing on navigation, teamwork and accommodation in the outdoors. Opportunity to include some of the traditional outdoor pursuits is provided at level 2. Care should be taken that no one component/pursuit would command a time allocation which would limit the student's experience of a broad range of outdoor educational experiences.

A water based activity while desirable may not be a viable consideration for inclusion in the devised course. Where possible efforts should be made to include a water based activity for example within a residential experience or on a day activity visit.

The residential experience is regarded as of significant value to the effectiveness of the unit. It is recommended that two days and one night would be a minimum requirement.

Where possible the students should be involved in the planning and the preparation of activities. The sense of ownership thus created will lead to greater commitment and participation by the students.

Imaginative use should be made of the school environment and immediate locality. Students should be confronted by a reasonable level of perceived risk, adventure and a degree of challenge which will promote their enthusiasm. The natural environment including the dark, woods, rocks and water involve sufficient challenge and mystery in themselves, if they are presented imaginatively.

A number of activities are included which may enhance the development of the adventure activities modules. These will be particularly useful on occasions of inclement weather and in situations where the teacher wishes to develop a clearer understanding of specific aspects of orienteering.

Every effort should be made to ensure the student has an educational, enjoyable, safe and challenging experience. Activities undertaken should be of real educational value and should relate to the ages, aptitudes and abilities of all the children taking part.

Teachers may seek to avail of the support of individuals with particular qualifications/skills in adventure activities be they within the school community, in the immediate locality or at certified centres of outdoor education.

Activities outside the range prescribed in the adventure activities module) orienteering, team challenges and campcraft) must be provided by suitably qualified personnel.

Learning may be enhanced where adventure activities are integrated with other areas of the curriculum, for example adventure activities provide many opportunities for the development of health related concepts.

An awareness of the need to care and be concerned for the natural environment, together with personal and group safety are linking themes throughout the activities.

The learning experience is enhanced where elements of the various components are integrated.


The Colour Coded System

The level of difficulty of courses offered on an orienteering event is denoted by a colour coded system. The progressive level of difficulty moves initially from white, to yellow to orange.

We have adopted this system into the team challenge bank to select tasks (activities) appropriate to the class grouping.

For explanation of the terms 'major' and 'minor' see page 34.

The following is a suggested structure for the Adventure Activities areas (excluding any residential experience).


Level 1

Integrated module.
One activity as a major aspect and an introduction to two other areas of adventure activities linked to this major aspect e.g. orienteering with links to camp-craft and team challenge.

Level 2

Integrated module. One activity as a major option and one other as a minor option.



Level 1

  • At this level the emphasis is on participation and enjoyment. Students are introduced to the basics of adventure activities through orienteering, team challenges and campcraft.
  • Where possible students should have opportunity to experience other activities, e.g. hillwalking, rock climbing, kayaking, sailing, snorkelling, surfing, caving.
  • Through their participation, students should recognise the need for appropriate personal equipment and safety precautions.


Level 2

  • At this level the emphasis is on developing and refining students' skills and on promoting more active involvement in the decision-making processes
  • Students will take responsibility for the planning and preparation of a residential experience
  • During their stay, an important facet of the experience will be the development of students' ability to participate as part of a team e.g. solving problems as a group, taking responsibility for food preparation and other organisational duties
  • Students will develop an awareness of important environmental concerns e.g. pollution and it's effects on natural habitats, erosion on hill walking routes, the country code
  • Students will reflect on experiences, giving them an insight into positive group and individual action and into students' personal strengths and limitations.





  • Structured observation
  • Unstructured observation
  • Oral questioning
  • Written assignment


  • Observation
  • Student profile
  • Informal interview


  • Practical assessment
  • Observation
  • Log Book


Evidence of learning in the three domains to be included in a student portfolio. The student's portfolio may contain:


evidence of learning

This may comprise specialised equipment related to activities, photos, drawings, record cards and logbooks

self assessment

Proforma supplied

teacher observation

  • Competence
  • Perseverance
  • Readiness to work in a group or independently as required
  • Co-operation
  • Enjoyment
  • Participation

Last Updated on Thursday, 02 July 2009 12:15

Top Listing

1. AA Scale in Orienteering
    : Adventure Activities
    : Aug 25, 2010
2. Piar-Mheasúnú
    : Gaeilge
    : Apr 27, 2010
3. M’fhoghlaim 3
    : Gaeilge
    : Apr 27, 2010
4. M’fhoghlaim 2
    : Gaeilge
    : Apr 27, 2010
Show more...

JCPESS mailing list

icon_speechbubble The JCPESS is facilitating an electronic mailing or discussion list, to facilitate the exchange of opinions and ideas among physical education teachers. The idea is to provide a supported community where teachers learn from each other, can share resources, expertise and other benefits.

Click here for full details.

Contact now

JCPESS, Mayo Education Centre, Westport Road, Castlebar, Co. Mayo
Tel: +353 94 9020789
Fax: +353 94 9020720


For links to useful websites and organisations, click here.