Outdoor Qualifications, a Paradigm shift

Young people are bombarded with the perception of “clever adults” and of what they deem important in the future. Every day we hear that the only occupations that are going to matter in the future are those with a high emphasis on technology and digital application.

What the clever adults forget is that in the absence of a society where people are put first, it will not be long before we are all overwhelmed by immense technological pressure.

Engagement with machines and electronic systems will never replace the majestic amusement of an outdoor experience in a forest, the gentle sound of water and wind on a river, or the view from the top of a mountain after a strenuous hike. To facilitate experiences in the adventurous outdoors, we as people will never be able to replace the combination of integrated sensory experiences that the outdoors facilitate.

People will always need the outdoors as an avenue for learning and therapeutic intervention. The Adventure Institute has realised that the typical set of skills that people in South Africa are taught are limited and very specific, but not inclusive of both the people, technical and enterprise skills needed to successfully navigate in diverse outdoor and adventure experience facilitation applications. 

There are three primary areas of specialisation required to successfully work with people in the outdoors, with the intent to not only be a practitioner but also contribute more directly to the economy by eventually running your own business. 

The first is people skills. This knowledge area requires an Experience Facilitator to appreciate people. To understand people, and anticipate how they think. To know how people can effectively contribute to engaged communities, you need to understand how to identify trauma and how trauma is captured by the brain. You need to understand how the outdoors can intentionally be utilised as a therapeutic application and remedy to life’s challenges. As part of people skills, you need to understand how peak experiences can contribute to change in thinking and behaviour. Also, understand how to structure experiences to most effective facilitate optimal education and development of diverse people.

Technical skills are next. Experience providers cannot be limited to one application and one qualification, like tourism or education. Professionals need to be qualified in the broad application of the field. Applications are too closely related to only being focused on one. Technical skills refer to the application of safety skills; medical and evacuation skills in challenging situations; legally qualify as a tourism adventure guide; understanding environmental stewardship and environmental education; know how to facilitate safety and knowledge in natural and artificial adventure environments.

The third knowledge area is enterprise. This knowledge area refers to the application of all these skills in the generic application of the context of practitioners, entrepreneurs, managers and industry leaders. Here, experience facilitators need skills in entrepreneurship, leadership, social media and the application of marketing, integration of all concepts, skills and theories in a contemporary application. 

Experience Facilitators cannot function in a vacuum. We are not the same. Personalities differ. We need to be shaped by the world we live in. That is why the Adventure Institute also negotiated a variety of elective skills that will be facilitated via personal coaching sessions as some students may be prompted to other knowledge areas and here they can choose from, early childhood development, Christian ministry, and many more.

The time for education to be a one size fits all, or one personality fits all, is long gone. We need to ensure students have the opportunity to be shaped and guided based on their unique personalities, thinking styles and desires for the future.


Author avatar
Dr Pieter Snyman

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