Being a female in Adventure Education
When I first joined the Prescott College community, I knew that I wanted to be part of the adventure education (AE) program, but I was intimidated by the “masculine qualities one must possess” to be considered an acceptable leader. The qualities that I thought one “needed” were brute strength, the ability to be able to conquer any skill, and have great climbing skills. I started to question my area of study. Perhaps, I should look into holistic heath, or psychology. I was comfortable with these topics. But, adventure clung onto my mind and I wanted to continue to explore my past with climbing and broaden my skill set. Yes, I was going to study adventure education!
Halloween Climbing Day
When in-town orientation started and it was time to register for fall semester classes, I found one class that I knew that I needed to be part of. This course was called “Women’s Topics in Wilderness Leadership and Introduction to Rock Climbing.” I was so excited that I was not the only one feeling the stereotypes one needs (masculine qualities) to be part of AE. I was going to learn how to best support myself as a female in AE.
A month later (after wilderness orientation) it was time to go to my first Women’s Topics class. This is when it hit me. I am taking an eight credit course with ALL women. Maybe this will be even scarier than just taking a class with guys. It will be harder to hide behind women. Our first weekend trip away from Prescott was to the San Juan River in Utah. We were taking a four day rafting trip to get to know one another. Don’t get me wrong; I like to talk and get to know people, but on this trip I found myself silent and unable to open up. This happened because; I was amazed at how lucky I was to be part of a course that was developed in order to empower women and to have a chance to show their strengths in AE. It was also to teach women that they are competent and are capable at being well-rounded adventure educators. I am not talking about one arm pull-up strength, but the pure, raw, and unique strength that each one of us possesses.
San Juan River
I could not have asked for a better course to deliver me into my AE career. Since taking Women’s Topics in Wilderness Leadership, I got to TA the course and also I was qualified to be student leader (alongside a professional leader) for Wilderness Orientation. Prescott College has provided opportunities for me that I would have not expected when I first stepped onto campus. By looking at my personal needs, in order to thrive, I have gotten an individualized education that I would have not been able to dream up. Now I am proud to say that “I do climb like a girl” and that the qualities that I have, have created confidence in me and I know that I picked the right area of study at Prescott College. What area are you going to choose?
~Chloe Anderson Erickson~