The essence of a tacit intersection : a heuristic inquiry into nature-based leisure and personal transformation
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There are a considerable number of programs and agencies that count on the existence of a unique relationship between nature and human development. In addition, there are significant bodies of literature dedicated to understanding developmentally focused nature-based experiences. This research project was designed to flirther the understanding of this phenomenon. Consequently, the purpose of this research endeavour was to discover the essence ofthe intersection ofpersonal transformation and nature-based leisure, culminating in a rich and detailed account of this otherwise tacit phenomenon. As such, this research built on the assumption of this beneficial intersection of nature and personal transformation and contributes to the understanding ofhow this context is supporting or generating of selfactualization and positive development. Heuristic methods were employed because heuristics is concerned with the quality and essence of an experience, not causal relationships (Moustakas, 1990). Heuristic inquiry begins with the primary researcher and her personal experience and knowledge of the phenomenon. This study also involved four other coresearchers who had also experienced this phenomenon intensely. Co-researchers were found through purposeful and snowball sampling. Rich narrative descriptions of their experiences were gathered through in-depth, semi-structured interviews, and artifact elicitation was employed as a means to get at co-researchers' tacit knowledge. Each coresearcher was interviewed twice (the first interview focused on personal transformation, the second on nature) for approximately four and a half hours in total. Transcripts were read repeatedly to discern patterns that emerged from the study of the narratives and were coded accordingly. Individual narratives were consolidated to create a composite narrative of the experience. Finally, a creative synthesis was developed to represent the essence of this tacit experience. In conclusion the essence of the intersection of nature-based leisure and personal transformation was found to lie in the convergence of the lived experience of authenticity. The physical environment of nature was perceived and experienced to be a space and context of authenticity, leisure experiences were experienced as an engagement of authenticity, and individuals themselves encountered a true or authentic self that emanated from within. The implications of these findings are many, offering suggestions, considerations and implications from reconsidered approaches to environmental education to support for selfdirected human development.