Beyond the ‘comfort zone’ – how adventure improves kids’ lives

Two Wheel View values adventure. We believe that experiences that challenge the physical, mental and emotional norms of young people push them beyond their comfort zone and help them grow into thoughtful, respectful and resourceful adults. Adventure helps young people navigate the fine lines between uncertainty and preparedness, courage and surrender, adversity and success; this allows them to approach every day struggles with more of the social and emotional strengths that are essential for success in school and life.

Our understanding of how adventure impacts young people is rooted in experiential education, which is defined as learning by doing, with reflection.[1] We believe that learning new skills and habits is best done with direct experience and that young people often learn better when they have multiple senses actively involved in the learning process. By increasing the intensity of the mental and physical demands of an experience, such as in adventurous activities, young people engage all their sensory systems, increasing the impact of learning even further.[2]

Our bike trips are a grassroots approach to responsible adventure travel. We support participants in exploring culture and gaining valuable experiences while making meaningful community connections. Bike trips enhance participants’ sense of achievement and self-esteem and the desire to pursue healthy lifestyles. The trips also support a connection to nature and teach about taking care of the environment, helping to develop long-term sustainability thinking.

Adventure helps improve kids’ lives in many ways

The outcomes of adventure-based programs have been studied throughout the world, providing substantial support for the positive impact these programs have on young people. Our bike trips aim to reduce risk factors and improve resilience in a number of key areas.

Mental health

Outdoor adventures and education programs have multiple mental health benefits for youths. This includes higher life satisfaction and happiness, an increase in mindfulness and self-efficacy and lower levels of perceived stress.[3] Adventure programs have also been linked to a decrease in symptoms of depression and suicidality, along with significant improvements in psychological resilience and social self-esteem.[4]

Negative behaviours

Outdoor adventure programs have been shown to reduce negative behaviours among young people, including rates of recidivism.[5] It is believed that this type of programming helps reduce antisocial behaviour by building developmental assets in youth facing multiple risk factors.[6] Unknown and unpredictable environments, such as those experienced during adventure activities, promote the development of better decision-making and risk assessment skills, which in turn leads to a greater application of this skill in everyday life.[7]


Adventures encourage the development of certain factors that promote positive relationships. Operating as a team in a wilderness setting requires mutual decision making, which demands trust, cooperation, communication and problem solving skills.[8] Essentially, what adventure does is promote the development of individual strength within a cooperative framework. However, adventure can also be stressful and the stressful nature of the experience ensures the members of the team will experience conflict, thereby giving participants the opportunity to learn conflict resolution skills.[9]

School performance

Outdoor adventure programs help young people develop the strengths, supports, and social and emotional factors that are essential for success in school.[10] Many studies have shown that outdoor education increases academic achievement in the classroom by making schoolwork more relevant and fun.[11] This is true at the subject level, with evidence that the effect of adventure programs improves performance in math, science, language arts and social studies. It has also been shown to help improve critical thinking skills, engagement and motivation amongst students in the classroom. The collaborative skills learned during an outdoor adventure program also translate into more effective community building in educational environments.

Adventures at Two Wheel View

In 2017, we travelled over 22,520 km. So far this year we have taken 48 kids on bicycle trips – and over the course of the last 18 years we have taken over 500 young people on adventures to destinations across Canada, Argentina and Norway. During that time, the positive impact we have had on these future leaders has been both impressive from a program evaluation perspective and meaningful on an individual level. Each adventure has been unique and the program we offer continues to grow and expand as we learn alongside the kids from the seat of our own bikes.

[1] Gass, M.A. (1993). Adventure therapy: Therapeutic applications of adventure programming. Dubuque; Iowa: Kendall Hunt.

[2] Crisp, S. (1998). International models of best practice in wilderness and adventure therapy. In C. Itin (Ed.). Exploring the boundaries of adventure therapy: International perspectives. Boulder, CO: Association for Experiential Education.

[3] Mutz, M. & Müller, M. (2016). Mental health benefits of outdoor adventures: Results from two pilot studies. Journal of Adolescence,49 (2016), 105-114.

[4] Bowen, D., Neill, J., & Crisp, S. (2016). Wilderness adventure therapy effects on the mental health of youth participants. Evaluation and Program Planning, 48, 49-59.

[5] West, S. & Crompton, J. (2001). Programs that work: a review of adventure programs on youth at risk. Journal of Park and Recreation Administration,19 (2), 113-140.

[6] Norton, C. & Watt, Toni. (2014). Exploring the Impact of a Wilderness-Based Positive Youth Development Program for Urban Youth. Journal of Experiential Education, 37 (4), 335-350.

[7] Moote, G. & Wodarski, J. (1997). The acquistion of life skills through adventure-based activities and programs: A review of the literature. Adolescence, 32 (125), 143-167.

[8] Newes, S. & Bandoroff, S. (2004). What is Adventure Therapy? In Coming of Age: The Evolving Field of Adventure Therapy. Boulder, CO: Association for Experiential Education. pp 1-30.

[9] Bandoroff, S. (1992). Wilderness family therapy: An innovative treatment approach for problem youth. (Doctoral dissertation, University of South Carolina, 1991). Dissertation Abstracts International.

[10] Search Institute. (2018). The Developmental Assets Profile. Retrieved August 5, 2018.

[11] Lieberman, G., Hoody, L., and Lieberman, G. M. (2005). California student assessment project, phase two: the effects of environment-based education on student achievement. State Education and Environment Roundtable (SEER).

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Two Wheel View - CALGARY

#101 1725 10th Ave SW

Calgary, Alberta 

T3C 0K1


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