Survival Island


Survival Island has been a pivotal part of our courses for young people since the first summer season with Rebecca’s parents over 50 years ago.

The concept is simple

To give young people the opportunity to make decisions and judgments for themselves, in a real environment that they have become familiar with and been trained in.

Working together they spend the night out under the stars on an uninhabited island, with meagre supplies and without adult intervention.

Building shelters from old yacht sails, cooking on open fires, foraging for and cooking wild foods. The mountains they climbed earlier in the week form a natural backdrop for the experience.

It takes time to be ready

Survival Island comes towards the end of a young person’s time with us here.   During the preceding days they will be taught the hard skills that they will need.   How to light a fire and manage it safely, what they can forage for to cook and eat, how to build the shelters and what they should consider when choosing a place to establish their camp.

Young people become more independent each day that they are with us. We start to give them greater responsibility while being observed and supported by their instructor.

Crucially, we share with them the process of assessing risks and how to make informed decisions to avoid them. We practice this process throughout the week, in unfamiliar settings and new environments, to prepare for the island.

Thriving on freedom and genuine responsibility

After a final briefing in the boats, the teams are given maps of the island, dropped on the shore, and then it is up to them.

It is amazing what young people can achieve when given the freedom and responsibility to do things for themselves.

Often the harder parts of survival island are the ability to make a plan, communicate clearly with each other, agree, disagree, reason and compromise.   Those things are so often managed for them by the adults around them in daily life.

Given the opportunity young people can work through all of these ‘softer’ skills themselves, on their way to creating an incredible experience on the island.

Delivering the final brief before landing Gresham’s pupils onto ‘survival island’.

Stretch… don’t cruise

On summer evenings from our small office at Ardmore we can see plumes of smoke rise from little campfires around the island. We can hear happy voices, often singing, and watch the young people climb to the highest point of the island to look back at the mountains, and watch the sun set over an ocean horizon.

Young people in camp as the light fades on survival island

One overarching thing I learned from the whole experience at Ridgway Adventure was that these children, as individuals and as a group, were far more capable than I ever imagined them to be. Give children true responsibility, freedom, trust and the encouragement to be self-reliant and positive, and they will far surpass their own and our expections.

William Goldsmith – then Headmaster of St Leonards Junior School


Teams would go fishing on Ardmore Rose before packing their clothes into a bin liner before jumping overboard and swimming to the island.

Interested in a course at Ridgway Adventure?

Contact us for a chat about your team and what you'd like to do.

Contact Rebecca