Outdoor Ed in the Middle of the Sydney CBD: What we’ve learnt by starting with a blank piece of paper and writing a whole new program in a different mould.

Paul Colagiuri

The Urban Challenge


After running ‘traditional’ wilderness outdoor education programs for decades, we thought we’d try something new and run a school camp in the Sydney CBD. We had three main goals in mind … it had to be unique and different, it had to be an unfolding adventure and we had to put the students in the driver’s seat.

The urban environment provides a wonderful opportunity for some real world learning, lots of fun and adventure as well as a connectedness with ones sense of place – albeit in perhaps a different way to a bushwalk or kayaking trip.

We’d like to share with you some of the speed bumps, some of the unexpected nuggets and lots of learning that we’ve had along the way.


Paul got his first paid job in the outdoors at the age of 18 and had no idea what he was doing, he was lucky enough to get a full time job at Somerset Outdoor Learning Centre on the Colo River a few years later, where he still lives and work today.

Paul and his wife Gen started The Urban Challenge 12 years ago and have loved slowly building it up one school at a time.

Paul has tried hard to be involved in the industry too, working as an accreditation assessor for ORIC (now Outdoors NSW), a Board Member for the Australian Camps Association and a trainer for the International Camp Directors Course. Paul and Gen live in the Colo Valley with their three grown up kids and enjoy working with three generations now involved in the family business.

About OEA and Outdoors NSW

Outdoor Education Australia (OEA)  was established in 2006 as a national network of outdoor education associations. The organisation facilitates communication between state and territory outdoor education associations about the practice and delivery of outdoor education; advocates for outdoor education across primary, secondary and tertiary education; and provides policy advice.

Outdoors NSW is the go-to place for all things outdoors in NSW.

The peak body for the outdoors in NSW, the organisation, (formerly known as ORIC), represents the outdoor community, advances outdoor standards, safety and practices, and fosters greater participation in the outdoors.

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