AORE Association News September 2016 - Page 8

Looking back on the work you did to start an international outdoor trip program at the University of Minnesota, what would you do again and what would you do differently?

I think what I would do again is have international trips that are not grown so expansively they overshadow what happens on our simple programs that add so much value. The real work of outdoor recreation happens on those day and weekend experiences that are accessible to so many students on campus. That will also be the heart of the outdoor program for me. What I would do differently is make sure, even though there is an expense to it, to fully scout out a new trip. I went on one trip I had scouted completely and another where I pieced it together from information I gathered from colleagues and put the pieces together on the ground with a group. There are already challenges that weigh down on a leader travelling internationally. Find the money to scout destinations in advance so less unknowns pop up as it’s harder to adjust on the fly when travelling internationally. Save yourself that stress.

What role do you think a local contractor, such as G Adventures, could play for international outdoor trips for college and university outdoor programs?

One disadvantage is that it is financially harder—it’s harder to make the make the margins work depending on how your program’s finances work. The advantages come from the time and cost you save planning logistics. You can spend so much time on the logistics of an international trip, why not use someone else to do this? If you are travelling to a place where there is a language barrier, using a local contractor is a no-brainer. For risk management, having someone who know the language and how things work on the ground—hospitals, visas, how to manage health care—is crucial if things don’t go as planned.

How would you describe the differences in approaches to outdoor recreation in the United States and China?

Programs in China are very risk averse. Between the risk aversion and everything being government run, programs want every answer to be a system, a checklist. In China, they would want someone to be a certified college outdoor leader—someone who checked all the boxes to say they are ready to do this.

Members in Motion (continued)

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