The Art & Science of Building Connections: An Experiential Workshop

Mr Mark Collard1
1playmeo Pty Ltd, Croydon Hills, Australia


The science is in: educational programs which intentionally develop trusting & healthy relationships out-perform all other programs on so many levels – greater participation, stronger communities & improved performance.

The structures and demands of today’s school curriculum have essentially squeezed the fun out of school. Academic rigour and results are paramount, so much so, that many educational endeavours which focus on fun are either misunderstood and delivered poorly, or frowned upon by administrators as a waste of time. Yet, as evidenced by innovative programs all over the world, a new approach to outdoor education demands that we take fun and social connectedness more seriously.

In recent years, research has clearly shown that having fun (playing) is as critical to the optimal development of a human being as sleep and nutrition. It is equally clear that all human growth and learning occurs outside one’s comfort zone, in the Stretch Zone, so to speak. Yet, the million dollar question is – how do we, as outdoor educators, invite participants to willingly step outside their comfort zones to try new things, develop their skills and grow? Mark’s simple answer, his most potent weapon to meet this challenge, is to have fun. But, in the words of Dr Suess – “It’s fun to have fun, but you have to know how.”

In this practical workshop session, Mark will present a series of fun group activities which explore & model the art & science of building connections. He will focus on the latest research which supports and encourages the intentional development of wellbeing as the central focus of outdoor programs. Developing & nourishing the wellbeing of young people is the future of education. You will be inspired to transform your existing programs to help your groups engage, interact and connect meaningfully with each other.

Mark is an experiential trainer, speaker and author and the founder of a small professional development business called ‘playmeo.’ His passion lies in a strong belief that group games & activities are a powerful (and attractive) way to help people connect, and knows – after working with tens of thousands of people all over the world – that strong and trusting relationships amplify the results of whatever you’re trying to get done. Mark is an expert at helping outdoor leaders learn the skills and strategies they need to deliver remarkably fun programs that engage and motivate people to participate and get along. He has written five top-selling books including No Props No Problem, Count Me In and Serious Fun which are sold worldwide. In addition to his innovative training workshops, Mark is best known for having developed the largest online resource of 400+ group games & activities which are specifically designed to invite people to play, interact, share and build healthy and trusting relationships.

Professionally, Mark sits on the Board of Outdoors Victoria and is a member of many national and international experiential education associations. He holds Bachelor of Business (Accounting) and MBA degrees, and is listed as an ‘expert witness’ for adventure-based activities on the Victorian County Court register. On a personal note, Mark has been struck by lightning twice, can’t back-up a car towing a trailer to save himself and has camped on the lawns of Australia’s Parliament House for three days (as part of a logging protest).

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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