For the amateur outdoor-enthusiast—and even the less amateur—there’s always value in receiving formal training from outdoor experts. When you’re shelling out the dough to take these courses, there are some definite objectives you should look to achieve, including introduction to a new skill, risk mitigation in tough terrain, or survival and rescue skills. But occasionally in formal training courses, you’ll stumble upon these less tangible, pleasantly surprising benefits.
Ownership and Independence
Got that always-reliable climbing partner who knows everything about the outdoors? Chances are if you do, you’re inclined to let them do the heavy lifting when it comes to trip planning, route-finding, and basic safety. You maybe even lulled yourself into the false sense that if something goes wrong, they’ll know how to handle it. Unfortunately, though, the thing that goes wrong could very well happen to them leaving you to figure out how to pull them out of a crevasse—which may be a stretch if you’ve never learned the figure eight series.
After taking many trips and realizing I was not contributing as much as the knowledge-holders on my team, I decided I wanted to own my part while in the outdoors. After taking some courses I found that a remarkable thing happens when you learn a tangible set of skills. You walk away with a strong sense of independence and ownership of those skills rendering you less reliant on others and capable of mitigating or dealing with outdoor dangers. Bottom line, invest in your learning and you will feel more independent and useful in the outdoors.
A New Outdoor Hobby
Most of us engage in training with a specific activity in mind—get your WFR so you can feel safer when backpacking or learn knots so you can rock climb—but the knowledge supplied in formal courses usually crosses into a variety of outdoor activities meaning they’re taught with different activities in mind.
Often courses require a minimum skill set to participate but as long as you meet that, you may get to stretch yourself into a new hobby—because you didn’t have enough already right?
There’s something special about a self-selected group of people coming together to broaden their horizons. While you’ll find a variety of skill levels and expertise in your classmates, you’ll also find you have a great deal in common and you might just score a new adventure buddy. Outdoorsy folk especially are known for their approachability and good nature, which makes outdoor training an ideal opportunity to make a new friend.
So, if you’re new to an area and need a climbing partner, hiking buddy, or just some company, learning something new with new people is a great way to start a new relationship—plus you’ll both have a wealth of new skills to practice. Put yourself out there a little, find each other on Facebook, exchange phone numbers, and get together over a trail run. You won’t regret the initial awkwardness when you forge a new friendship around an outdoor activity.
While you won’t find these topics covered on the syllabus, they’re certainly of benefit to you. Sign up for a course or two and be open to the other positives you might encounter.