Three Principles


Our three principles; those of self reliance, positive thinking, and leaving people and places better than you found them, came directly from John’s experiences in that small wooden rowing boat crossing the North Atlantic in 1966.

They were the principles on which the School of Adventure would be founded in 1969, and are just as relevant and important to young people now as they were then.

John Ridgway’s briefing to the first ever course arriving at the adventure school in 1969.

“To get the most from this course, you’ll need to put a lot into it – and we’d like to follow three principles, which I hope will make each group a success.

Self-reliance is the first.   Some of you will never have been away from home before; here you will learn to do everything for yourself.   Once you are self-reliant, then you can start to look after others in the group.

John and Chay load fresh water onto English Rose III before departure.

Positive thinking is the second.   When the group is discussing the problems of the course, if it looks at them in a positive way, then it is likely to succeed.  

You will probably have rain, wind and cold as well as sun.   None of these will last for long.  

Every storm comes to an end – try and see that, and you will thinking positively, and that will help the whole group to do the same.

Think negatively, and in hard going you will not succeed. Instead you’ll be swallowed up in your own self-pity.

Leaving people and places better than you found them, that's the third.

If you are feeling cold and wet on the mountain look around you, identify someone worse off than yourself, and concentrate on cheering them up.   It’s the beginning of leadership; and you’ll forget your own feelings.

You will be relying on the clothing and boots which you have brought with you, and the equipment you are issued with here.   Your comfort and safety depend on it.

Try and think of each thing you have with you as having to last for ever – in the middle of the ocean, or any survival situation, your length of life will depend on how you make things last.”   JR July 1969

John Ridgway mid-Atlantic

Fifty years on

Throughout our summer season we work with young people from the age of 10 through to 18 years old.  Much has changed in the last 50 years and childhood now looks very different to childhood then.   The three principles however remain, and are as important now as they were then.

It is not a ‘heavy message’ but the three principles underline everything that we aim to achieve with young people here at Ridgway Adventure.

The young people that come on courses here have great fun in the mountains and on the sea, but fun is not our initial aim. The fun and personal reward comes because what they achieve here is not easy to attain or immediately won.

I wonder if I can actually express here how thankful my husband and I are, that you organise a whole week out of such an incredibly busy term to give our children, I realise now, one of, if not the most, important week of their lives. We said goodbye to a boy a week ago and we have been given back a young man… I find myself just staring at my son in wonder at the transformation. I am well aware of the massive effort this must involve. What an absolutely invaluable platform you have given all of these young adults to start the next stage in their lives with confidence, pride in themselves and the lifetime friends they have made at Brambletye.

Brambletye parent to their Headmaster (2017)

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