Enhancing Adolescents’ Environmental Responsibility Through Outdoor Recreation Activities
Updated: Feb 11, 2022
Spending time outdoors fosters a sense of connectedness and empathy with nature and has a clear effect on attitudes and behaviour towards the environment. The purpose of this study was to examine the impact of an outdoor activities intervention program on adolescents’ sense of responsibility towards the environment.
Participants included 262 adolescents (135 girls and 127 boys) aged 13-17 years who were divided into experimental (n = 141) and control groups (n = 121). The 15-day outdoor intervention program included trekking, mountain biking, orienteering, archery, ropes courses, canoeing on a lake, via ferrata rock climbing, night hiking, and overnight camping. Participants completed an Environmental Responsibility questionnaire (Zafeiroudi & Hatzigeorgiadis, 2013) before and after participation in the activities program. The questionnaire included five scales that focused on perceptions of information on environmental issues, environmental cognitive and affective beliefs, predisposition for environmental action, and environmentally responsible behaviour.
Analysis of variance with repeated measures revealed improved scores amongst adolescents who participated in the intervention program, notably within the specific scales used to evaluate perceived information, affective beliefs, predisposition for individual action, and predisposition for encouraging others. A follow-up analysis of covariance revealed that participants in the experimental group scored higher overall than did those in the control group.
Taken together, these findings add to the current literature focused on psychosocial and behavioural mechanisms associated with environmental awareness. Our findings also suggest that outdoor recreational activities may be an effective supplement and a more challenging alternative to programs currently provided by environmental and active leisure associations.