Endorphins and lungfuls of fresh air, coupled with the vibrancy of natural colours and textures that wrap you up when doing something physical outside are some of the best things in the world. For energising, for healing, for inspiring, for nurturing and for growing confidence - I believe that opportunities to get out and about and active are some of the most important things we can offer children.
As I rowed my way out into the North Pacific earlier this year, I marvelled at the wildlife that crossed the path of my tiny boat. From sperm whales three times the length of my seven metre boat to the tiniest of planktic jelly blobs that drifted by, the albatrosses who soared low over my head and the ancient turtle who ambled gently past - I felt alive and so lucky to be experiencing it. I thought of the UK and how we are never very far from the sea, and remembered a school in Coventry I had worked with before, where the headmaster said many students had never even left the city. Let alone felt the sand between their toes or trailed through rockpools discovering creatures or tumbled in the surf - they had never left their own city. I vowed that the end of my expedition would see me do more to encourage and enable young people to get outside and adventure.
The great thing is that adventures don't have to be huge trans-ocean crossings. Adventures can happen right from your doorstep, if only you dare to think adventurously. Green spaces and wild places are never that far away, even in cities there are parks and rivers.
As I sat on a Scottish beach under a dark sky jeweled with stars in August, roasting marshmallows on a campfire as waves ruffled the pebbly shore and oyster catchers shrieked in the distance, I thought back to campfires I had as a youngster, with my family or school through the Duke of Edinburgh Award. I wished that every child could have that opportunity. To swim in a river, to splash through muddy puddles, climb a mountain, build a campfire, sleep in a tent or a shelter they have made - just to get outside, be outside and feel the power and brilliance of nature. It all starts at home - with family and schools and clubs, in childhood. Attitudes and behaviours learned as a youngster stay with us for life, and experiences can inspire us into future habits. Given that so many children are obese, I see this as imperative.
Right now I am on a mission to loop the planet using human power, by rowing boat, bike and kayak. But this isn't just my journey - it's a shared one, engaging schools and people of all ages the world over to be more adventurous and get outside. Satellite calls into classrooms from the middle of the ocean, school visits and stories told in words and pictures and video, and support of various initiatives and groups that are looking to do the same - this is my offering for now. That's why I am stoked to have been shortlisted for the Women of the Future Awards in association with Shell UK.
But while everyone loves living vicariously, it is so much better to have your own. So, once my expedition is complete, I shall be turning my attention to helping others get out there and start their own adventuring - wherever and whatever that may be. Meanwhile, what's your adventure to be and who are you going to share it with?
Sarah Outen is a shortlister of the 2012 Women of The Future Awards.
The awards ceremony will take place on Tuesday 20 November and is hosted by Real Business in association with Shell.Suggest a correction