Explorers Connect

Adventure Mind
27th-28th February 2020

A conference to promote positive mental health through adventurous activity, featuring world-leading researchers in the field. For outdoor professionals, researchers, policy makers & adventurers.

Duration: 2 days | Location: YHA London Lee Valley | Price: from £175


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We have a mental health crisis in the UK. We believe that adventurous activity can play a significant role in alleviating this problem for various sectors of society

Already there exists an experienced community of outdoor professionals, researchers and adventure organisations that see the benefit of adventurous activity on people of all ages and backgrounds everyday. This conference is designed to equip you with the latest research, improved networks and shared resources, to increase the impact and effectiveness of your work.

We are bringing together some of the world’s best researchers in this field - from universities and institutes in the UK, USA and Australia - to London, in February 2020, with the aim of supporting the delivery of adventure in the UK:

  • To provide practitioners and policy makers with the latest evidence supporting the positive impact of adventuring on mental health

  • To provide networking for like-minded researchers and practitioners who would mutually benefit from producing new research together

  • To provide advice and information for practitioners to be smarter in the way they plan, deliver and measure adventure interventions to aid mental health

  • To provide long term networking and solutions for policy makers, researchers & practitioners to bring adventure into mental health planning

  • To help practitioners communicate the impact of their work to their communities and potential funding organisations

  • To help practitioners network, share resources and collaborate

The event will explore the role of Government in improving mental health and, more specifically, how policy makers can facilitate more people to use outdoor adventure to alleviate mental health issues.


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Adventure Mind will bring together policy makers, researchers, adventure practitioners, mental health professionals and adventurers to better understand how adventurous activity can positively affect mental health in the UK.

The conference is designed for any outdoor practitioner or organisation that works to improve the mental health of their participants, or wishes to in the future. Also for individuals who are interested in how adventure can affect them. Attendees will benefit from learning about new research, smarter ways to deliver adventure, how to best assess impact, and from networking with other industry professionals.

Researchers will benefit from sharing their results with those that can action them and building collaborations for future work. Leading researchers from the UK, US and Australia are already confirmed to share their latest work at the conference.

Policy makers will have the opportunity to work with high profile speakers and influential stakeholders to examine ways of bringing outdoor adventure into mental health planning.


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Adventure Mind will run from 12pm on Thursday 27th February to 4pm on Friday 28th February, with a networking dinner on Thursday night.

The agenda will include the latest research to design and deliver adventurous activity to positively impact mental health. The event will incorporate workshops, panel discussions, networking opportunities, presentations of case studies by practitioners and the latest evidence by leading scientists. This includes but is not restricted to:

  • How to intentionally design adventure experiences to impact mental health

  • How to bring adventure into mainstream mental health planning

  • How to measure the impact of adventure on participants’ mental health

  • Building lasting resilience through adventure: short term intervention

  • NHS funding for surf therapy

  • The mental well-being impact of parkour

  • Outward Bound: the lasting impact of 80 years of delivering adventure

  • Adventure as an intervention for recovery from PTSD

  • The effect of nature on mental health

  • …and much more

A detailed agenda will be circulated over the coming months.

The conference will start at 12pm Thursday 27th February 2020. Registration is from 11am.


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New evidence, case studies and publications will be presented by researchers and expert practitioners. Some of the speakers already confirmed to share their findings include:

Prof Emma Barrett OBE (Manchester University) brings research from the fields of psychology in extreme environments and on schools expeditions.

Dr Simon Beames (University of Edinburgh) is a senior lecturer in outdoor learning and author of ‘Adventure and Society’.

Prof Eric Brymer (Australian College of Applied Psychology) has an interest in designing effective interventions for facilitating human potential & psychological wellbeing.

Jenny Edwards CBE is a National Advisor to numerous mental health charities, Honorary Fellow for Faculty of Public Health and former Chief Executive, Mental Health Foundation.

Prof Alan Ewert (Indiana University-Bloomington) covers research areas that currently include outdoor adventure, resilience, risk motivation and the natural environment.

Belinda Kirk is an expedition leader, founder of Explorers Connect and a leading voice promoting the importance of adventure on wellbeing. Belinda is curating and hosting the event.

Dr Chris Loynes (University of Cumbria) has an interest in the outdoors and adventure as a vehicle for youth and adult development

Outward Bound is an adventure charity that has had significant positive impact on mental health over the last 80yrs.

Paula Reid (Adventurer and Performance Catalyst) will talk about going knowingly into the unknown.

The Wave Project NHS support of surf therapy

I’ve been taking people on adventures for over 20 years and I’ve seen its positive impact on mental health again and again. There is more research each year supporting the idea that adventurous activity promotes wellbeing. The aim of the conference is to strengthen this message, empowering outdoor professionals, supporting adventure organisations and promoting further research. Together we can engage more people in adventure to promote mental health and personal development
— Belinda Kirk



Belinda Kirk - via Explorers Connect - wants to ensure adventure is woven into everyones’ lives. We are raising the klaxon call and rallying the troops: with the ultimate aim to get adventure on the national agenda, to make it accessible to all, and delivered as effectively as possible. 

This is from Belinda, and it’s personal. It’s the result of a life-long fascination with witnessing the singular positive impact of adventure first hand. To achieve this, we are doing what we do best: establishing a solid community with a shared ambition. In this case it’s to discuss and progress research on adventure theory, as a springboard for that theory to be put into practice in real life: the Adventure Mind conference.

Explorers Connect is in a unique position to bridge the gap between the practitioners, the researchers and the public - to build momentum for adventure theory and provide a channel to execute that theory and report back on effectiveness, via our 28,000 strong community of adventure enthusiasts.

Read Belinda’s article about what led her to create Adventure Mind here.



Situated right on the edge of the River Lee Country Park, the venue for Adventure Mind 2020 is YHA London Lee Valley, just a twenty minute train journey from Central London.

Perfectly positioned in surroundings to compliment Adventure Mind, attendees will be able to explore open green spaces and spot local wildlife, as well as having easy access to cycle routes and water sports.

Conference Facilities and Bedrooms are held within 5 modern wooden lodges with two room types available (dorm and twin rooms). Bedding is provided, you just need to bring a towel.

Accommodation on Thursday night is included in your Conference Ticket.

Please arrive by public transport, there is no parking available to delegates.

Cheshunt railway station and the nearest bus stop are 150 meters away.


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  • All presentations, workshops, panel discussions and networking sessions

  • 1x networking dinner

  • 1x night’s accommodation (either dorm or twin room - please select on booking, and please advise us if you are booking with another delegate and would like to be placed in the same room)

  • 1x cooked breakfast


  • Date: The Adventure Mind conference will run from 12pm on Thursday 27th February to 4pm on Friday 28th February 2020

  • Conference & dorm accommodation: £175 per person

  • Conference & twin accommodation: £205 per person

  • If you would like to join the conference without booking accommodation, we have a limited supply of conference only tickets at £145. Please contact Rowan (rowan@explorersconnect.com) for more information.

  • N.B. Adventure Mind is run on a not-for-profit basis to support the outdoors community


If you'd like to know more about this weekend or have a particular question about this or any of our adventures, please email enquiries@explorersconnect.com or call the office on 0117 405 7497 during normal office hours and we'll do our best to help you.