We’re so proud of the diversity, skill and passion of our staff. As the year wraps up and we reflect on all the great programs that we have been able to run we just have to share some of their great stories.
How did you get into outdoor education?
In 1989 I was at a cross road in life, not fulfilled in engineering and leaning towards social work as a career. My engineering manager at the time joined the dots of my interest in the outdoors and Outward Bound and soon I was a participant on OB Standard Program in West Australia, using this as a way to explore life options. I remember being so excited when I learned how to navigate off track with a compass and map. Suddenly there was a freedom in knowing I could get myself to pretty much anywhere.
After the initial OB course I did work at the national campus in Tharwa ACT for the summer but my interest in social work won out and off I went. I did, however, remember many things from Outward Bound and used my new skills and attitude to develop my self confidence and skills by heading off on numerous solo trips into the wild. There was a 12 day hike to Federation Peak in Tasmania, week long ski tours in Kosciusko National Park and many canyoning trips.
In 2013, after social work had run it’s course for me, I again tripped over the idea of Outward Bound. I now saw outdoor education as the place to be to combine an interest in working with people with a long standing love of the outdoors and adventure activities. I had gained so much from an Outward Bound course and now wanted to pass on those possibilities to others. I started my training in 2014.
Someone/situation who has inspired you and why?
Michael White is not with us anymore but he helped to develop a model of counselling called Narrative Therapy. With such concepts as Naming the Story, Externalised Conversations, Landscape of Identity questions, I was drawn in. Here was a way of talking to people that was completely affirming that they were the expert in their own lives, and that with exploring questions they could uncover the gems of their life experience to grow their preferred way of living. My challenge has been to take this out of a counselling context and adapt it to the multi layered experience of an Outward Bound course.
I have to laugh here because many at Outward Bound would happily remind me of my reactive sayings, but no need to share those here.
One of my favourite sayings has come from another form of counselling called Re-evaluation Counselling. The idea here is to encourage me to think big and to use contradiction to release pent up feelings and habitual ideas to open myself to the grand possibility of my underlying Wondrousness.
At times when I am feeling a little low or uncertain, I will literally speak this saying or something like it. Said with a gentle but resolute tone, this saying will inevitably help me to relax, be in the moment and continue on with more joy and curiosity.
“It’s just possible, that even I could become the person that I dream I could be.”
How did you get into outdoor education?
I grew up in South East Qld on a property and have always loved wide open spaces and the freedom whilst outdoors. I had a gone through a life threatening health crisis and it forced me to take stock of my life. I wasn’t happy in my 25 year medical imaging career and decided to start living not only the length but width of my life. I volunteered at many organisations to see where my strengths and weaknesses were and kept drifting towards the outdoors, teaching and places with a strong sense of community and purpose. I was invited to an Outward Bound selection week after an application and the rest is history – with lots of adventures in the middle! It wasn’t a hard choice and has been the most challenging and rewarding decision I’ve ever made. Working in this industry gives me the beautiful outdoors, the capacity to share my experience with others and to help them achieve theirs and to continue working towards achieving what I know I am capable of without limits.
Someone/situation who inspired you and why?
I was inspired by Rachael Robertson. Rachael was an Australian park ranger before she applied for a position to lead a station in Antarctica. She was unsure if she had the right stuff to survive in such extreme environments let alone lead a station. Rachael became the youngest and second female expedition leader to Davis Station. Her book ‘Leading on the Edge’ was something I picked up in a second hand book shop when looking for my own purpose and it got me thinking that if she could do that, I could do anything I set myself towards also. It was the catalyst I needed just at the right time.
“Do adventurous things when you’re young so you’ll have something to smirk about when you’re old.”
I actually did an Outward Bound Navigator program when I was 15 which definitely fuelled my love of the Australian bush and pushing my limits. I then went on to study International Relations and Development studies at university, which made me realise I wanted to find a profession where I could give back to those around me and try bridge the divide between social classes… voila! Outdoor education was the perfect combination of my two passions.
My mum is an artist and she inspires me to find the beauty in every little thing around us. She reminds me to stop, breathe and take in the amazing scenery that surrounds us everyday.
My favourite adventure so far has been caving through huge river systems in Vietnam. The size of the caverns and cave features were so alien to me, it was truly amazing!
“If you have to swallow a frog, don’t stare at it too long.”
How did you get into outdoor education?
I got into outdoor education through high school teaching. Throughout my university degree I was always interested in the potential the outdoors offered as a way to teach people new skills and new things about themselves. A big influence on my move to outdoor education would have to be the numerous family camping and 4wd trips I went on as a child and the Outward Bound program I completed in 2006.
Situation/someone that has inspired you?
Back when I was a preservice teacher and being mentored on the finer arts of Physical Education, there was a particularly troublesome student who was having a lot of difficulty mastering the straight drive (a cricket shot 😉 ). My mentor at the time instead of getting angry with the student’s constant “I can’t do this” attitude and comments calmly explained the technique in a different way, and lo and behold the student got the action and was able to smash the next three balls across the field. The inspiring part in this situation wasn’t the great teaching that was demonstrated to me, but the look of accomplishment and proud achievement on the student’s face when he managed to connect with the ball. The complete turnaround from about to chuck the bat away and storm out of the classroom, to the look of confidence and self-worth is one of the contributing factors for me doing what I do. Being able to provide opportunities to young people and adults to realise things about themselves that they did not know previously is a real privilege.
Favourite saying adventure
My favourite adventure to date, would have to be my recent trip to Papua New Guinea (PNG) where I was lucky enough to be apart of a world first traverse of the Mt Giluwe massive. Mt Giluwe being the 2nd tallest mountain in PNG at 4367m offered some stunning glacial carved valleys, jungle and some breath taking views from the top of the peak. My favourite part of the trip though was the people, the porters and all the locals we met along the way definitely made the trip something to remember.
“Be the change you want to see in the world” – Mahatma Gandhi
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