College Ambassadors

Expecting the Unexpected

Growing up in small town, Indiana, I was constantly surrounded by creeks, rivers, and lakes.  By the age of 13, I was given the opportunity to guide and lead kayak and canoe trips around the area where I grew up.  From the point when I started guiding to now, I have seen and dealt with many adverse and difficult situations where I had to come up with on the spot solutions that best fit the situation. You never know what kind of surprises the outdoors can bring. 

It is always in your favor to expect the unexpected and be prepared for anything that could come your way.  Before any trip I make sure that I have a first aid kit, enough food and water (or a source to get clean water), a light source, fire starter, contact information for local search and rescue, a map to the nearest hospital, and anything else that might be necessary for the particular adventure.  Along with being prepared with supplies, one must also prepare themselves by refreshing their CPR and first aid skills so that they can be prepared to use these skills if necessary on a trip.  You should also mentally prepare yourself as a leader before taking a trip so you can focus on being a good leader, not only someone who bosses others around. 

I would never want to get caught in a situation where I felt unsafe or a group member felt unsafe due to a lack of preparedness.  These situations are preventable and could cause harm for a simple reason as one was unprepared to lead the trip.  Risk management is a huge part of being a leader.  Some people may think that leading in the outdoors is only something that an expert should do and that they will lead on instincts due to their experience.  Well, this is not always the case.  Sure there are many expert leaders out there, however, these people may lack in areas such as risk management or other important leadership skills that someone at a lower level of expertise could have.  Which one would make them a better leader?

As a leader in the outdoors, I am constantly looking for ways to improve my leadership skills.  Many times I ask clients to share the honest truth even though it may not always be what I want to hear.  This makes for great feedback to improve for the next time.  A leader does not have to be perfect, they just have to constantly be wanting to learn how to be better.