For those of us working, involved, or interested in outdoor and experiential education, especially Outward Bound. We'll share experiences and ideas, make new friends, and reconnect with old ones. Not endorsed by or affiliated with Outward Bound.
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I am starting a non profit, experiential education company with my husband, One World Adventure Company, and I am putting out this blog to get good advice and also to network. We will specialize in curriculum enhancement, corporate teambuilding, and adventure travel. Let me know about anything that can help us succeed.
I am at Outward Bound "Return Staff" training this week. In addition to certifying in EWS (emergency water safety - life guard stuff) and the challenge (climbing) course, I got my certification in "Protective Action Response" - PAR.
PAR is basically how to restrain someone without getting them or yourself hurt in the process. We prefer not to use restraints at all, but if someone is a danger to themself or others... In practice most of the maneuvers end up looking like a big hug. So now I know how to wrap you up and hug you whether you want me to or not!
Another month, another Outward Bound course behind me... this one was really tough. One of my co-instructors was going for her promotion to Lead Instructor, so we agreed to let her run the course her way. She and I had very different ideas about how to run an Outward Bound course, so I found myself stretching to play a role that never felt natural. To add further frustration, we had a Course Director who role-modeled behavior we would not have accepted from one of the students. And to top it off, I ended up feeling like I accomplished less with these students than any I have ever had.
I took a day after our course ended to disappear back up to the Hostel in the Forest. The day was surprisingly warm and sunny, and a skinnydip in their spring-fed lake did much to restore my sanity. A night in one of their treehouses (along with a midnight gathering in the kitchen to make and eat tempeh sloppy joes) did some more. Waking up warm under my blankets, air grown chill overnight, looking out my treehouse windows over the bright crisp morning... I started to feel like me again.
I did receive another promotion myself after the course, and certainly added a lot to my bag of tricks - new games, new lessons, new ways of managing behavioral issues. I also collected more valuable data for my masters thesis - "On the Nature of Transformative Experience" - and am now prepared to close my field research and start writing the thesis itself. And some of the students did ask for my contact info, insisting that they wanted to keep in touch. One even called me the father he never had. Just wish I felt more confident that any of them were going to stay out of trouble.
This winter promises to be a period of much reflection and soul-searching for me, as I search for patterns that will help me make sense of all the data I have collected, and evaluate the groups I have been working for and the work I have done. What are the essential elements of an experience powerful enough to change a person's self image and core values? If I wanted to start a new outdoor ed program with that goal in mind, what would be the ideal formula? The answers may well influence how I want to spend the rest of my life.
Meanwhile, I have plenty of little details to distract me/take care of. I need to have the plate and screws removed from my ankle, meet with one of my undergrad mentors regarding a possible three-year paid research position in Alaska, fly back to Olympia at least long enough to pick up some research data from my storage unit, and finally I need to recertify as a Wilderness First Responder before my current cards expire in March.
All this in preparation for an exciting spring and summer! I could be leading the first ever Outward Bound course in the Mobile-Tensaw Delta, that primeval landscape where I enjoyed my very first wilderness experiences! I should graduate from Evergreen State College with a Masters in Environmental Studies! And I could end up in Alaska, doing paid research with one of the tribes!
Exciting stuff, so it is very telling that my energy level feels so low right now. Not bad or hurting, just very mellow and instrospective. My friend Charles Littleleaf would tell me this was my body's way of signaling that it was time to go inside, to spend some time working on my inner self. After all, I am 42 - the perfect age for puzzling out the meaning of life, the universe, and everything! At least for me. At least for now. I will get back to you when I have it.