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Adventure Vacations and Experiential Learning for Personal Growth and Development

Updated on September 10, 2011

Adventure Vacations and Experiential Learning for Self-Development

Are you stuck in a rut? Are you putting up with your life but not really enjoying it? Are you ready to make some changes in your life but you're not sure how? If any of these apply to you, or if you just want to challenge yourself to test your capabilities, an adventure vacation using experiential learing and life coaching may be for you. There are many ways to get through tough situations and indecision. Many people turn to psychologists or even friends and family. Others suffer in their situation, too afraid to make any changes. But research has shown that challenging yourself physically can be linked to overcoming challenges you may be facing in other aspects of your life. When these physical activities are combined with life coaching, real changes can be accomplished. There are many opportunities to participate in this type of experiential learning just waiting to be taken.

What is Experiential Learning?

Experiential learning is learning through reflection on doing rather than just learning from books or lectures. This can include anything from learning through science lab experiments, to going to the zoo to learn about animals, to learning about your own capabilities through challenging yourself to face your fears. This is what many companies, like Outward Bound, have done for years, with great success. In fact, Outward Bound participants who attend the program feel there are benefits even a year after participation.

Adventure and Experiential Learning Opportunities

There are many programs available to participate in. Just a few include:

  • Outward Bound: They offer many different types of Wilderness Expeditions including hiking, rock climbing, desert backpacking, kayaking, sailing, rafting, and dogsledding. The goals of the expeditions, which usually include 7-12 people, are to build character, teach leadership skills, and inspire a service ethic. Participants achieve increased self-confidence and self-actualization, increased compassion towards others, an increased ability to set and meet goals, and a higher level of collaboration, communications and problem solving. Outward Bound has been around for a long time - since 1941. They have a great reputation to safety and leader quality. Prices vary but are about $1300 per week, not including transportation to the expedition location.
  • Mind Over Mountains: This program, which takes place in Ridgway, Colorado in the heart of the San Juan mountains, is for women only. The program includes physical activity such as hiking and yoga as well as personal coaching by a certified life coach. The retreats are one week in length and include no more than eleven participants. They're offered in the summer only, a beautiful time to spend in the mountains. The cost is $2250 for a week and includes lodging, food, coaching, and all activities. The only additional cost is transportation to Colorado.
  • TimeOut/Professional Thinking Partners: Located in Utah, TimeOut is a program that blends physical activities such as mountain biking, horseback riding, hiking, downhill and cross-country skiing, snowboarding, and snowshoeing with five hours of reflective activity daily. Participants explore the big questions in their lives relating to life purpose and direction while using nature as a classroom. The program is staffed by Dawna Markova, a psychologist and researcher in the field of perceptions and learning.
  • The Magic of Skiing: Located in Aspen, Colorado, this program uses skiing as a basis for teaching life skills such as relaxation, stress management, concentration, and mental rehearsal. Thom Crum, author, black belt in Aikido and instructor to ski instructors, leads the personal development sessions that seek to train participants to use the mind and body together such as what elite athletes do. The cost for one week, including lodging, lift tickets, and breakfast daily, is $2595 for double occupancy. As with other programs, the cost doesn't include transportation to Aspen.
  • Circles of Air, Circles of Stone: This Vision Quest isn't exactly an adventure vacation but the process of going out into nature alone for four days and nights is definitely a challenge for most people. Faced with only your own thoughts and no food (only water is provided), the participant learns to face their own pain and monsters, to make their own decisions, to determine their own meaning and success, and to heal themselves. The program begins with four days of preparation with the staff and includes a buddy system during the quest to ensure safety. Quests are conducted in various locations in California, New Mexico and Vermont and include 5-8 people. The cost is $800, excluding travel costs to the quest location.

Whatever your reason for attending an adventure vacation, it's clear that it could have a profound impact on your life. If you're at a cross-roads in your life or you want to develop yourself in general, these programs can help while providing a unique travel experience as well. Utilizing physical challenges along with life coaching and reflection are a powerful combination that yields life changing results.


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