We  invite submissions for a Special Issue on active ageing in the outdoors. See call below.

If you would like to review papers please contact  barbara.humberstone @bucks.ac.uk

Journal of Adventure Education and Outdoor Learning

Ageing, adventure and the outdoors: Issues, Contexts, Perspectives and Learning.

In many countries, and particularly in economically advanced nations, ageing populations constitute important and pressing issues (United Nations, 2013; Office for National Statistics, 2016) which impinge on, for example: political, economic and social domains. Thus, social gerontology in the twenty-first century, and ‘older adulthood’ as a recognised life phase, have emerged as distinctive from traditional problematisations and constructions of ‘old’ age and geriatric care ( Wrosch, Jobin & Scheier, 2016). In relation to this, the act and processes of ‘learning to age’ in relation to a life connected with outdoor adventure and activities represents an area of increasing interest and understanding (Hockey & Allen-Collinson, 2007; Humberstone, 2011, 2016).

Integral to the above considerations, age is also intertwined with diachronic transformations in stereotypes operating for participants in outdoor contexts and activities. For example, historical conventional portrayals of participation in outdoor pursuits frequently conjured up images of  adversity against the elements, ‘conquering’ physical challenges and derring-do. Such representations tended to centre on a virile, strong and, above all, youthful and primarily male gender bias. Equally, it might be said that such representations of outdoor activities were dominated by particular social classes – i.e. especially middle and upper in the United Kingdom – and different national contexts evolve their own narratives in relation to the outdoors and these connect in various  ways in relation to  age (Cook, 1978;; Elkin, 1991; Stokes, 2008). In the current epoch, it can be argued that clichéd representations are being recontextualised to explore more variegated and inclusive accounts of the outdoors (see for example, Barnfield & Humberstone (2008) on gay and lesbian outdoor practitioners).

Conventionally, commentaries on ageing have exhibited a propensity towards problematizing old age i.e. pathologizing rather than celebrating the lived experience, benefits and opportunities of ageing (Phillipson, 1998). However, growing evidence suggests a positive correlation between older adults’ finding well-being and maintenance of skills through physical activity in outdoor contexts (Arthur et al, 1998; Sugerman, 2007; Brennan, 2008; Nimrod, 2011;) This is evolving in tandem with changing understandings of ‘leisure’ ( Nimrod & Janke, 2012; Stebbins2014) and the rebranding of the outdoors as a public health resource (Hickman, Beynon & Inkster, 2014; Varney & White, 2015). The confluence of the phenomenon of the older adult and the outdoors has given rise to notions of inter alia: ‘savouring’: [the capacity to] ‘appreciate, and enhance the positive experiences [in life]’ (Bryant & Veroff, 2007: 2); or for example, nostalgia, anticipation and recasting of outdoor activities (O’Connell, 2010). In summary, there are a significant and timely range of issues to be considered in relation to ageing and outdoor activities and this special issue encourages such lines of enquiry. Strands for submissions to the special issue might include (although not exclusively):

  • Ageing, the older adult and adventure sports;
  • Narratives of learning in relation to ageing and the outdoors;
  • Analyses of ‘stages and ‘phases’ of ageing in relation to outdoor adventure and learning;
  • Accounts of lived experience(s) among older adults in relation to the outdoors;
  • Politics and ageing in relation to the outdoors;
  • Studies of varying national contexts and cases of older adults in the outdoors;
  • Comparative studies examining, for example, ageing and the outdoors across national contexts; sport/activity domains, learning environment and socio-political populations;
  • Notions of ‘community’ and social connectivity for older adults in outdoor contexts;
  • Engagement and motivations of older adults in (niche) outdoor activities (e.g. tree-climbing).


The special issue welcomes studies from a range of methodological approaches including innovative and developmental stances, both theoretical and empirical.  Initial submission deadline September 2017 Proposed publication release: end 2018 If you wish to discuss your submission further please contact: Dr Mark Hickman – mthickman@uclan.ac.uk/ Prof. Peter Stokes – peterstokesmail@gmail.com

Mark Hickman, University of Central Lancashire, Preston, UK

Peter Stokes, Leicester Castle Business School, De Montfort University, Leicester, UK


Arthur, W., Bennet, W., Stanush, P.L., & McNelly, T.L. (1998). Factors that influence skill decay and retention: A quantitative review and analysis. Human Performance. 11 (1), 57-101.

Barnfield, D., & Humberstone, B. (2008). Speaking out: perspectives of gay and lesbian practitioners in outdoor education in the UK. Journal of adventure education & outdoor learning, 8(1), 31-42.

Brennan, D. (2008). Older Adults in Adventure Education: Making Meaning of Older Adults’ Inner Experience of Experiential Education. Saarbrücken: VDM Verlag Dr. Muller.

Bryant, F.B., & Veroff, J. (2007). Savoring: A New Model of Positive Experience. Mahwah, NJ: Erlbaum Associates.

Carruthers, C., & Hood, C. D. (2011). Mindfulness and well-being: Implications for TR practice. Therapeutic Recreation Journal45(3), 171.

Cook, D. (1978) ‘The Mountaineer and Society’, in Wilson, D. (1978) The Games Climbers Play, London.: Diadem Books Ltd.

Elkin, G. (1991). Outdoor Challenge Programmes: Employee Development in New Zealand. Training Officer, 27(7), 206-209.

Hickman, M., Beynon, B. & Inkster, A. (2014). The Outdoors and Public Health: Climbers aged 60+. Paper presented at the Museum of The Great Outdoors. Sheffield, UK. 4th-6th April.

Hockey, J., & Allen-Collinson, C. (2007). Grasping the phenomenology of sporting bodies. International Review for Sociology of Sport, 42(2): 115–131.

Humberstone, B. (2011). Engagements with Nature: Ageing and Windsurfing. In B. Watson and J. Harpin Identities, cultures and voices in leisure and sport (159-169) LSA Publication No. 116. Eastbourne: Leisure Studies Association.

Humberstone, B. (2016) Researching the active ageing body: What inspires continued participation by men and women over 60 in alternative physical activities? in Humberstone, B., and Konstantaki, M. (Eds) (2016) Ageing, Physical Activity, Recreation and Well-Being (196-210). Cambridge: Cambridge Scholar Publications.

Nimrod, G. (2011). The impact of leisure activity and innovation on the well being of the very old. In Poon, L.W. & Cohen-Mansfield, J. Understanding well being in the oldest old. (240-257). New York: CUP.

Nimrod, G., & Janke, M.C. (2012). Leisure Across the Later Life Span. In Gibson, H.J. & Singleton, J.F. Leisure and Aging: Theory and Practice. (95-109). Champaign, Il. Human Kinetics.

O’Connell, T. S. (2010). The effects of age, gender and level of experience on motivation to sea kayak. Journal of Adventure Education & Outdoor Learning, 10(1), 51-66.

Office for National Statistics. (2016). UK Perspectives 2016: The changing UK population, http://visual.ons.gov.uk/uk-perspectives-2016-the-changing-uk-population.

Phillipson, C. (1998). Reconstructing Old Age. London: Sage.

Stebbins, R.A. (2014). Careers in Serious Leisure: From Dabbler to Devotee in Search of Fulfillment. London: Palgrave Macmillan.

Stokes, P. (2008). Outdoor Management Development as Organizational Transformation A Study of Anglo-French Paradoxical Experience in the Application of Alternative Human Resource Development Approaches. International Journal of Cross Cultural Management, 8(1), 23-39.

Sugerman, D. (2007). Motivation of older adults to participate in outdoor adventure programs. The Journal of Experiential Education, 25(3), 346.

United Nations (2013), Department of Economic and Social Affairs, Population Division, ‘World Population Ageing 2013’ (ST/ESA/SER.A/348). New York: United Nations.