At Outward Bound Australia we have an amazing diversity of passionate staff. Meet Kevin Neff. Kevin hails from the USA and has been working at Outward Bound Australia for the past year and a half. Kevin brings an exuberance to his role as In Field Supervisor as he mentors other staff members to bring out the best in people. We sat down with Kevin and asked him some questions about what makes his job great.
I have been an Outdoor Educator since June of 2014. Four and a half years.
I remember having a student who was diagnosed with Autism Spectrum Disorder. They had a medical form that raised questions and concerns that were in practice unfounded. This young person was a reminder that the labels we are given, especially as young people, do not necessarily paint a complete picture of who we are, and who we can be. While the young person was labelled as being emotionally unintelligent, they proved to be the heart and soul of their crew. This made the experience very memorable for everyone involved – including me.
The most important thing to expect is surprise. Even if a participant has gone on bushwalking or outdoor experiences before (even if they have gone on an Outward Bound program before!) there will be unanticipated challenges, unforeseen hardships, and unexpected triumphs.
Every program is different. Programs are unique because of the people on the program, the weather and environment at the time. These factors are what creates the inevitable compassion that participants will give and receive throughout the program.
I adore the moment on a program when a participant tells me, “I cannot do this,” while at the same time I am watching them do it.
“I cannot abseil,” as they are descending the rock.
“I cannot canoe,” as they shoot a rapid.
“I cannot walk any more,” as they are climbing a literal mountain with a pack on their back.
It is repeatedly amazing to see the limits young people put upon themselves and to be witness to those same students surpassing their limits.
I honestly enjoy any outdoor space on this continent. From the Northern Rivers of New South Wales to the Snowy Mountains of Victoria – the beaches, the alps, and the endless forests and parks – every corner of nature I find in Australia continues to amaze me.
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