Trae Pearson, Executive Chef at Westwind
The power of Outdoor School is not that you’re going to learn everything about a tree, it’s that you’re going to learn a million things about yourself. It's such a valuable experience because it gives a voice to so many people that don’t have one. People learn to be confident, to focus, to utilize their skills, and to believe in themselves. It really defines you as a person.
Our leader has such a passion for our work and zest for education that’s inspiring to others. She’s playing the long game and knows the impact of our daily work. And, yet, she knows you can’t force people to believe in your vision or make them do things your way. So she gives us clear expectations and then leaves us to explore- how we get to the end goal is up to us. And then she checks back in to see how it’s going. It’s the perfect balance of freedom and communication.
I love to try things and see what happens. At Outdoor School, you’re given a billion achievable small tasks. Every minute you’re trying, improving, learning, and exploring. Every group is different, every time it’s different. That means you don’t have time for the outside pressures of what people think or what you look like. The only thing that matters are the billions of tasks that help your group of kids be successful.
As a leader, I’ve gained a ton of confidence. It encouraged me to be who I am and to grow as a person. When you can get onstage in front of lots of people in crepe paper and a tutu and do a goofy skit as a HS student, spilling mustard on your shirt in the cafeteria is no big deal. I also gained perspective. When other people stress out about what’s going on, I think “we’re fine… no kids are going to fall into the slough, have an asthma attack, break a leg, a tsunami siren doesn’t involve getting 150 people 1 mile up a hill in 7 minutes…” When I’m meeting with a client and I start to get nervous, I think “this is not the most stressful thing I’ve ever done… this is not that hard.”