Campaign seeks to save Scotland’s outdoor centres

Youth outdoors web

Without financial support, many residential venues face closure

8th September 2020 by Gavin Stuart 2 Comments

A petition has been launched in a bid to save Scotland’s outdoor residential centres from closure.

Campaigners including Scouts Scotland, Girlguiding Scotland and the Outward Bound Trust warn that unless action is taken urgently, the country could face losing the centres forever.

The petition calls on Scottish Government ministers to review their decision not to provide financial support to the outdoor education sector while it remains unable to operate as normal because of the Covid-19 pandemic.

Without support, the campaigners warn that many outdoors centres will suffer the same fate as Girlguiding Scotland’s Netherurd House, which has been closed permanently after 70 years of operation.

The Scottish Government has advised local authorities that school residential trips should not take place until at least the spring term in 2021, with no review date set to reassess this position.

Martin Davidson, director for Scotland at the Outward Bound Trust, said: “This decision is catastrophic for both young people and for outdoor centres. The school residential has been feature of Scottish education for years.

“It is highly valued by teachers, it develops self-confidence and helps with mental health and wellbeing. It creates memories of a lifetime for millions of young people. These fabulous experiences will come to an end as the Scottish Government has decided not to support outdoor residential centres.

“While the government has supported many sectors to ensure their survival and enable them to adapt, residential centres are unable to operate and remain in lockdown.”

Jane Campbell Morrison MBE, chair of the Scottish Adventure Activity Forum, added: “It is vital that the Scottish Government provide support for outdoor residential centres because this would enable outdoor education specialists to support schools and teachers getting pupils benefitting from being active in the outdoors.

“We already work with thousands of teachers every year to help deliver the outcomes related to Curriculum For Excellence. Young people have missed out on so much this year due to lockdown and coronavirus, we cannot let the residential experience be another thing they have to lose.”

The campaigners noted that in additional to the educational benefits, the outdoor residential sector also supports thousands of jobs both within the sector and the rural economies where many are based.

The #SaveYourOutdoorCentres campaign is urging people in Scotland who have benefitted from a residential experience, as well as teachers, youth workers, support networks for young people with additional needs, and any parents and young participants who have recently benefited from a residential outdoor learning experience, or who were looking forward to their turn, to write to their MSPs and the government and ask them to save the centres. The petition can be found on

13th September 2020 by Brian Foley

I’m a Canadian with Scottish ancestry who’s attention has been drawn to the plight of Scottish outdoor centres, by a friend. I’m wondering what I can do to help to ensure that outdoor programs Worldwide are equipped to receive children and adults alike as an I hope when it’s prudent enough World gets back to a more ordinary, post Covid 19, routine. It is my hope that people around the World will recognize that money and effort invested in alcohol, tobacco, caffeine, recreational drugs, and non-nutritious, cake, pie, and candy (including soda pop) might well better be directed at establishing activities that promote wellbeing, just as I believe that outdoor recreation and learning programs of all kinds do.

18th September 2020 by Jason

Save our outdoors centres