Winter outdoor trekking: spiritual aspects of environmental education
– paper in the current issue
Ivo Jirásek, Pavel Veselský & Jiří Poslt
Volume 23, Issue 1, January 2017, Page 1-22
This text deals with the potential spiritual aspects of being outdoors within the framework of non-formal and informal education. The course being examined was organized by the Vacation School of Lipnice – Outward Bound Czech Republic, and the participants in this course made up the research sample. While the research was not directly focused on the spiritual dimension of the human way of being, our analysis of the interviews (n = 12) and the results of the Prague Spirituality Questionnaire (n = 10) indicate a connection between the fortnight spent trekking through the winter landscape and spirituality in terms of the educational potential it has for personal development. The data obtained in the interviews may be structured into the following main semantic fields connected with nature: naturalness, the element of fire, senses, aesthetic perceptions, bad weather, and spiritual dimension. In the questionnaire respondents were inclined to include factors such as ethical enthusiasm, sense of belonging, and deep ecology. The results may be interpreted as suggesting that due to the immediacy of direct experience the two-week-long trekking journey in the winter landscape (snowshoeing and camping in tents) reinforces a dimension of environmental education that surpasses any rational verification and enters the spiritual realms.
Keywords: Winter trekking, spirituality, nature, naturalness, environmental education