AORE Association News June 2016 - Page 4

Embracing Your Vulnerability in the Outdoors


the outdoors is greatly influenced by my connection with the individuals who surround me. By engaging in the activities that our instructors would be using with girls on course, I was granted the space to investigate my own confidences and vulnerabilities, and be able to share them with the group. BUT this would not have been possible if all group members did not feel safe in speaking up about our vulnerabilities.

It is my philosophy that if we are to effectively instruct, we must also remember what it is like to be a beginning learner and be gentle with how we communicate risk socially and psychologically. By taking the time and reflection to place ourselves in another individual’s hiking boots, we may be able to better understand how our vulnerabilities intersect with how we take in new knowledge and bring it into our core. Along the same lines, as instructors, our connection and vulnerabilities with others in the field can allow tremendous growth in knowledge. For example, think how difficult it is to learn when you are afraid of what others may think of you? What about the self-doubt that many of us have on a daily basis? Acknowledging these vulnerabilities and doubts within ourselves and out loud to others can allow us to push past plateaus in our instruction and interaction in the field as well as in the frontcountry.

As with most groups, participants may feel afraid to discuss what they are nervous, scared, or frustrated about. By allowing the space for these individuals to feel safe, instructors can help to ignite even more growth. Without a doubt, group contracts can create safety and buy-in for all participants and instructors, so this is always a good starting point. At times, the only way for the group to feel safe to talk openly is for instructors to be vulnerable first. This can unquestionably be a difficult task since you may not want to show any type of “weakness” to participants or students, but doing so can set the perfect stage for others to follow suit and the liberation felt will hopefully be what is needed to continue along this path.

I know that I have a greater respect for the rest of the women on the trip and for myself after we all allowed ourselves the space and awareness to feel, think, and be who we were without fear of judgment. I grew tremendously over those few days in the field all because I let myself be vulnerable. I encourage you, during your next outing or program, to allow yourself to be vulnerable as well and see what follows for yourself and for your participants.

By Mackenzie Brady,

AORE Board Member, Program and Admissions Manager at GirlVentures

I recently returned from a staff training trip within the area designated as Point Reyes National Seashore. The group was made up of 13 other amazing women with a variety of experiences, all coming together for the purpose of inspiring confidence and inner discovery in adolescent girls. Like many staff trainings, the instructors were tasked with teaching lessons for initiatives and activities that would be taught on one of the many courses over the summer. I thought that this staff training would help me to learn GirlVentures curriculum while backpacking in a beautiful area, but the 5 days spent away from San Francisco allowed me the time and space to understand that my connection with