Parent’s Guide in Adventure Sports

Young People & Adventure Education

Young People participating in climbing, hill walking, mountaineering, canoeing, kayaking and other outdoor and contact sports and activities. What a parent needs to know!

Adventure outdoor activities are a great way for children to development socially, spiritually, physically and mentally. Many life skills are taught on the climbing wall or rock, camping in the woods or hills and canoeing into those hidden spaces that only Wow can explains.


Some of the skills the outdoor classroom teaches:

Skills like problem solving, coping strategies when it didn’t go your way, resilience, communication, how to look after yourself and other, decision making, assessing risk and managing it, understanding that you choices in life will directly impact you future and believe it or not, how to cook and keep you kits tidy and well maintained.



What a parent or guardian should know:

There are many first class adventure providers in Ireland and you should be able to find one within you area. Adventure education and activities are carried out in an environment that will pose measured “risk” to you child. There is an acceptable level of risk that must be involved or the adventure is lost and the child may as well be back to the X box safety of their bed room. At the end of this page are some helpful links, check out the “Young People Parent’s Guide”.


What some risk look like:

There is a risk of getting much colder or wetter than normal, slipping and falling over, getting dirty or even minor cuts or bruises and of course getting scared. However, rebuttal providers will operate within acceptable risk levels where the adventure starts by just putting on the helmet or water proof coat. It is the entire outdoor experience that is the adventure, not putting people in harm’s way.

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For example; climbing up a wall or rock for the first time, jumping into the water from your canoes, seeing nature work and learning about the critical balance between nature and how we impact it. Watching wild life like a deer or seal or maybe some ants do what they do. Learning how to safely start a fire without modern tools and being able to build a shelter or pitch your tent, these are basic needs that must be managed to reduce risk. Then there is cooking at the campfire, understanding the importance personal hygiene when cooking and eating in the outdoors and the proper disposal of waste. Then when the meal is over and you settle down for the evening around the campfire being taught how to appropriately and safely use a knife to carve soap or wood, facing you first night sleeping away from home and maybe under the stars listening to wind, a fox harking or hearing it pass closely by, these are all part of the adventure experience and all part of learning how to manage adventure risks.

However, there is other developments that goes on in adventure experiences such as making new friends from different walks of life and being able to place yourself in the group with the confidence of being happy in your own skin that comes when young people learn they can cope in the outdoor environment and feel good about themselves and what they have achieved.

What should I as a parent be checking out or expect from a good provider?

Organisation – Ask the provider what industry standards they work to, at Lurgan YMCA we use the British Mountaineering Council and Mountaineering Ireland standards, British Canoe Union, Canoe Association NI and Beaver Tooth to guides us. We also use qualified independent people to ensure our equipment and approach is fit for purpose. All our personnel are training in-house initially to ensure they meet our standards but often qualified to nationally approved certification. For example: we have Level 1 to level 5 BCU/UKCC canoeing coaches, Climbing supervisor are training by qualified people to the Climbing Wall Award standard. The team has personnel qualified in climbing and mountaineering (SPA/MLC).

Risks Assessment – There is regular risk assessments completed for all activities and maintenance checks completed.

Environment used – We use venues that we have risk assessed and that we know do not pose undue risk. We also aim to reduce for foot print on the areas we use so prefer public locations.

Policy, practices & insurance – All our personnel have been vetted by AccessNI, trained in Child Protection, risk assessment and other relevant policies. You should always be sure your chosen provider meets these standards. Also make sure they have proper insurance. You can ask to see any policy we have it or our public liability insurance.

Written consent – You should expect to be asked to give written consent for your child to participate in adventure or contact sports. We will also ask you to complete a consent form for your child and if we are taking photos with will request you consent for this also. Photos are only for internal purposes like newsletters, our website or Facebook.

What to expect afterwards – It depends on the adventure. Tired in a given, excited and hungry most likely and a bag of dirty clothes needing washed. Hopefully, your child has had a life changing experience and that they will want you to find out where they can do more. If that is your experience get in touch with us here at Lurgan YMCA and we will try to help. Whatever you do, make sure you support them participate in adventure.


Here are some links that might be able to help you:

Climbing – There are 64 climbing walls and 10 junior club in Ireland, see link below. Talk to MI.


National Indoor Climbing Award Scheme – a small group of young people can do this at the YMCA with some support from parents:


Canoe Association of N. Ireland – they should be able to link you to a local club:


Young People – A parent’s Guide to Climbing, Walking and Mountaineering” by the British Mountaineering Council – on the link below download the free PDF – this is a good guide.


I hope this page has been of help to you as a parent or legal guardian thinking through adventure activities. If you still are unsure about what you child participating at a YMCA activity please contact us or call in.

If you would like to help us set up a junior climbing or canoeing club please contact us, we need volunteers and as a parent this is a great way to bond with you child and be a part of the adventure in their life, I know.


Hugo Dale


Lurgan YMCA

Get in touch

Call us: +44 (0)28 3832 1025
Email us:
Find us: YMCA Lurgan
4 Carnegie Street
Co. Armagh
BT66 6AS
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