Recently we wrote a blog about how Expeditions India closes our doors during the busiest rafting months of the season. So what does our team actually do in the summer? We scatter around the globe. Pramod is off to Iceland and Ann is off to Norway. They’re both working at top-notch adventure companies, honing their skills by rafting new rivers and integrating into new cultures. Sanjay returns to Dehradun to help run a school, and Ing-Marie shifts to Auroville, where she works on water conservation issues. Each person moves to a place that inspires them – with new landscapes, business models, cultures – places where they can be enriched and develop the skills that will ultimately make them stronger employees of Expeditions India and more importantly, better people.
As for me? I venture to the USA each summer, fortunate enough to work for a company that has helped me develop my own skill set in the outdoors: NOLS.
For the past 6 years, NOLS has invited me be a part of its river program on rivers as diverse as the Kali in India, the Salmon in Idaho, the Green and Yampa in Utah, or the Owyhee in Oregon. I have instructed instructors and students alike, in both rafting and kayaking. And I have cherished the following:
The Learning: Even though we teach NOLS’ leadership philosophy (4-7-1) to students, this framework has helped me grow as a leader. Since I’ve been running river trips since 2000, I’m accustomed to being a designated leader in the field. But learning to distinguish between different types of leadership (such as active followership, peer leadership, and self-leadership) has helped me realize when it’s time to take on another role. The 7 skills of leadership also provide a backbone for when I fumble, especially in the field. I can immediately go back to these skills, assess where I need to adjust, and make a plan for how to proceed. And my "signature style" continues to develop.
The People: Within NOLS, I have met some amazing, professional outdoor-men and women, people committed to their craft. It’s through their humility and teaching by example that I can see my own short-comings. They are passionate about the outdoors but also about impacting the lives of young people, at which they are exceptionally skilled. (Indian readers with teens: looking for the best outdoor leadership experience for your teenagers? Visit NOLS-India’s offerings.) On top of that, within NOLS culture, I feel more valued for my skills. In India, there’s a lack of recognition and value placed on outdoor skills – with a subsequent lack of professionalism. But at NOLS, there is value given to the skills I have and opportunities to enhance them.
The Landscapes: From the Salmon River in Idaho to the Kali River in India, NOLS takes its students to some of the most beautiful rivers on the planet. They are wild, scenic and special places, stewarded with care by NOLS instructors and students for the time they are there.
In short, I am grateful to NOLS. From pristine river corridors, talented colleagues, committed mentors, inspiring students, overseas travels...to some of the perks in between contracts: getting to meet homesteaders on the Salmon River - the real heroes of the backcountry, IPAs, new friends and endless fun...thank you NOLS! I’ll be at TVB this summer – in case you’re there, please stop by.