Over the years I have volunteered for several organizations, to give back by offering my skills in different environments such as; social planning where my management skills could be utilized; and fire fighting, search and rescue and ski patrol, activities where my emergency services skills could be utilized for what I would consider exciting or fun, but not necessarily fulfilling. My passion has been working with youth at risk, providing experiential education based on group wilderness adventures incorporating leadership, wilderness and first aid skills training.
Adult education theories at their core mostly agree that adults come to education with experience, the filter which all new learning flows through or is compared to. Youth, or young adults, have experience, just not as much, and those at risk tend to have a history of negative experiences or a lack of positive experiences. My work in this area is to provide positive experiences through group learning activities in the wilderness environment where reliance on each other is required and peer learning and support is facilitated.
A recent chance encounter with a previous participant demonstrated the impact of my past efforts. Now a young mother with a new family, the participant relayed that she hopes that when her daughter becomes a teenager, that she will have the same opportunity to have similar experiences and further elaborated that the experience changed who she was, a personal growth experience. Being that participation is short term and benefits may not be realized for years to come, this was a moment of gratification for me as it was evidence of positive results. Transformation wasn't immediate but the transformational learning journey was initiated with positive results.