My name is Adam Combs and I’m one of the Co-Founders of Waypoint Adventure. I just spent the last three days in Montreal, Quebec Canada attending the 45th annual Association for Experiential Education conference (AEE). This conference gathers individuals and organizations that use adventure and experience as a means for positively impacting the lives of people and their communities.
For the last seven years, Waypoint has been growing and developing at a rapid pace. We’re very thankful for that growth and look forward to much more! However, this hasn’t allowed us much “extra” time. Although we’ve recognized the AEE as a valuable community of like-minded practitioners and organizations, it’s been difficult to carve out time to engage with this community on a deeper, more meaningful level.
This week’s conference was like a breath of fresh air.
Sessions included lectures on topics like risk management, group facilitation, social emotional learning, effective debriefing tools, and the use of stories to promote empathy. People spilled out of each session to continue discussion, connection and further development of ideas.
One topic that particularly resonated with me revolved around the idea that REAL learning is directly tied to emotion. One speaker said “if you don’t connect the emotion, there’s no learning to be had”.
People who work in this field, deal in deeply emotional stuff. We put people in precarious situations. We challenge them. We ask them to be vulnerable. We encourage communication and teamwork. We make connections with our participants and oftentimes we do this in wild and beautiful places that, without any of this other stuff, elicit their own level of emotion.
So, what kind of learning is actually produced through this emotion and connection?
I’m so accustomed to thinking about learning as cerebral knowledge, like learning math facts or historical events. But, the learning that I’m talking about here is deeper, whole body, existence altering learning. It changes the lens in which we view the world and ourselves. It changes the way we interact with and care for one another. It makes us more empathetic and resilient to negative factors that might otherwise throw us off kilter. It’s learning that happens through meaningful experiences.
It’s real learning. Learning that matters. It makes me proud of the work we’re doing at Waypoint. It makes me want to do it better. It makes me want to find people who’ve never been a part of these adventures and bring them in.
Over the last 6.5 years, Waypoint has had the opportunity to bring this level of learning to more than 6000 participants and I can’t wait to bring it to 6000 more!
A big thanks to all those who made this trip possible. Some of you provided the financial resources (you know who you are) and others (Waypoint team) covered the extra bases to allow me to break away. Thank you all.
Here’s to a rekindled belief in and passion for the mission! Here’s to 2018 and beyond!