On the 18 – 20th January 2017 the BOSS project got underway at the CREPS Rhone Alpes offices in Vallon Pont d’Arc in France. The following people and organisations were present at this meeting:

Denis Boissiere – CREPS Rhone Alpes
Maxine Gregory – Sheffield Hallam
Andreas Thomann – Technical University Munich
Barbara Eigenschenk – Technical University Munich
Adrian Forestier – UCPA
Mike McClure – Sport Northern Ireland
Joao Zamith – Surf Clube de Viana
Petar Iankov – National Sports Academy, Sofia
Eduard Ingles Yuba – National Institute for Physical Education
Francois Beauchard – CREPS Rhone Alpes (observer)
Colin Miege – Sport et Citeyonnete (observer)
Yoan Fontana – CREPS Rhone Alpes (observer)

The group had time to get to know each other and build relationships which is really important in any collaborative partnership project. Each day the group made a point of getting out into the natural environment for a walk to ensure that they also gained the benefits of being in the outdoors and it was agreed that this should form an essential element in any working group.

Many of the partners had previously worked together through the European Network of Outdoor Sports (ENOS).

One of the critical elements to any collaborative partnership is to agree at the outset how decisions will be made especially as there are 11 different partners involved in the project. While it was agreed that any decisions to be made would require a 2/3 majority of those present at a meeting either physically or electronically the aim will always to be unanimous in approach.

Much of this first meeting was taken up with the management of administrative processes which are essential for the smooth running of the project. This included the financial processes, managing staff changes and dealing with quality management  issues. Another major piece of work was to develop the BOSS website which will be a very important way to communicate about the project, to provide  a way to share information and to disseminate the results and information generated by the project.

It wasn’t all administrative procedures and in depth discussions. The staff from the CREPS arranged a visit for the partners to the “Grotte Chauvet” – an amazing cave system with some of the best prehistoric art In the world. This fantastic cave had been discovered by outdoor sport enthusiasts (cavers) in 1994 and is now a world heritage site.

The group also had to agree a definition of outdoor sport for the purposes of the project. The starting point for the development of a definition was the definition in the Council of Europe’s European Sports Charter (2001):

Sport means all forms of physical activity which, through casual or organised participation, aim at expressing or improving physical fitness and mental well-being, forming relationships or obtaining results in competitions at all levels. (Article 2)

The group therefore were focused on the idea of physical activity but in addition the principle of connectivity with nature. Through this the following definition was agreed:

Activities that are normally carried out with a (strong) relation to nature and landscape and the core aim is dealing with natural elements rather than with an object.

It may include activities:

  • that have their roots in natural places but use artificial structuresdesigned to replicate the natural environment.
  • where the natural setting is perceived by users, as at most, onlyminimally modified by human beings*
  • thatareperceivedas(atleastminimally)physicaldemanding
  • that are based on man or natural element power and are notmotorised during the sport itself
  • that may use some form of tool (for example a surf board, bicycle, skis etc) or just involve the human body* does not have to be wild, just perceived as natural.This first meeting was extremelly positive, cemented relationships and set the tone and the ways of working for the rest of the project.