Thompson River University Adventure Guide Diploma Program builds leaders on and off the water

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The Thompson River University’s Adventure Guide Diploma Program provides more than college credits to its participants. Students improve both leadership and paddling skills, but more importantly the expedition also provides funding for Nepalese Sherpas to continue their education.
This spring twelve students from Thompson River University’s Adventure Guide Diploma program will head to Nepal to push boundaries both physical and mental for twenty-two days as whitewater paddlers on Nepal’s most exciting rivers. This once-in-a-lifetime journey begins in May when the group sets out for Katmandu. The team plans to tackle four rivers during their stay in Nepal: the Bhote Kosi, the Upper Sun Kosi, the Sun Kosi and the Tamur.
The group has several day trips planned as warm-ups before the nine day expedition on the Sun Kosi. Adventure Guide student Lars Hartling says he is looking forward to the diverse challenges each river has to offer. “We’re all excited to run some big waves, build our skills on the water, and take our paddling to the next level” said Hartling.
The group includes the twelve students, and two TRU staff members, and will be led by Chris Jones of Griffon Expeditions. Jones is a former TRU student and will be facilitating the expedition, as well as offering his international paddling experience to teach and assist the young guides.
The students expect to improve both paddling and leadership skills as they will be tested on rapids ranging from class one to class four. This diverse line-up suits the different skill levels that make up the team. The expedition will also earn the students credit towards their diplomas. The Adventure Guide program, offered through Thompson River University’s Adventure Studies Department, gives students the chance to develop in the various disciplines of adventure tourism, and provides young guides with unique opportunities like this one.
As with any team, this group of students have had to learn about the importance of cooperation and communication when working towards such a big goal. Hartling explains that each person has been forced to tackle problems with which no one had any experience, and that many new skills were picked up along the way.
“When challenges come up it is important for us as individuals to be able to step outside our comfort zones and meet the task head on” said Hartling.
One of the major challenges that the team has already met with is funding their trip. The students have spent the last few months hard at work on various fundraising projects. The Adventure Guide Diploma students have hosted benefits and presentations, made t-shirts, ran multiple bottle drives, and organized a silent auction and raffle.
The students aren’t the only ones who will be gaining new skills and experiences. A major aspect of their project has been collecting donations that will go towards funding adventure industry training for thirteen Nepalese Sherpas. If the students meet their fundraising goal of $4682 US dollars, the Sherpas will be able to further their careers by receiving training in the area of their choice. Some of the courses the Sherpas have elected to pursue include English language studies, culinary training, first aid training, and trekking guide certification.

Thompson River University