Ever since I started working with SOLE I have learned so much about others, as well as myself. My first experience with SOLE was in 2014 when I was enrolled as a student on a SOLE GAP Experience SM with Lake City High School in Coeur d’ Alene, Idaho. This snow-based experiential education program provided exposure to the basics of snow science for myself and 10 other peers. We learned the importance of Snow Water Equivalency (SWE), how to measure it within the snowpack, and how it (and other factors) effect the stability of the snow-pack. Most notably, I learned that I was a very influential leader. Another part of the program that has truly stuck with me from then on is how leadership styles and roles can vary and adjust to the given situation. Examples include using a more direct leadership style when something needs to get done right away or to delegate to provide more group-related ownership and provide additional leadership opportunities for my peers.
Some time after this experience I was offered an opportunity to develop my skills as a Field Instructor for SOLE. During the summer of 2015 this process began during a SOLE Journey Experience SM when I accepted the offer and packed my backpack for a 16 day trip into the Cabinet Mountains of Montana. During this SOLE Experience SM the other Field Instructor and I helped a 15 year old boy with finding his true self as well as learning outdoor skills. For a student it may be hard to see how setting up camp every day relates to the real world. It is simple from an instructor’s point of view. It shows determination, organization, time management, repetition, and that it is okay to ask for help! But what I took away from that trip is appreciation. Appreciation has taught me that I grew up a very lucky child to have such a strong family. Since my trip I have not let that mindset slip away from me.
In the Summer of 2016 I was on another 16 day Journey Experience, this time with a 19 year old as the student. This trip was designed to assist this individual with Executive Functioning skills. The 19 year young man, was able to accomplish amazing feats that even he thought he could never do due to his defined diagnosis and self-limiting beliefs. As a Field Instructor I grew immensely as I gained the knowledge and power to view things in a new perspective. Instead of seeing a student struggle and enabling them to complete a task and providing instant gratification, I made the conscious choice to allow them to problem solve for themselves, and use the learning strategies that we had been working with him to develop. This approach allowed the student to feel much more accomplished in the end, and have a better understanding of how to approach a challenging situation in the future.
As a Field Instructor for SOLE, I love my job and enjoy seeing the growth-oriented outcomes of the participants I get to work with in the end. It is a job where I can wake up every day excited to help others help themselves, and then develop the essential leadership skills to help others.
“You know how to understand, but you need to understand how to know.”- Cody Jahns