A day of community building, thoughtful discussion, and hands-on learning to start the year intentionally. Written by Iona Kelly.
On January 7th, 2024 Cottonwood Institute held an Instructor Winter Training day in the beautiful Camp Patiya. It was held with a focus on our various programs and how to support the creation of opportunities for connection to nature while simultaneously maintaining structures to manage risk and promote safety. Sixteen incredible Cottonwood staff attended, from field instructors to CAP teachers to our Executive Director allowing for an incredible day of learning and building connections with incredible people at one of our most gorgeous and most visited campsites.
Fostering Intention and Connection in Teaching
Throughout the day, intentionality and the fostering of an environment in which people are able to connect with nature and each other were central themes. This was explored through both discussion and activities such as Nutty Squirrels, a lively game led by Cottonwood’s Associate Director, Chelsea, involving blindfolds, trust, and some improvised communication tactics. All of this culminated in a reflection on the importance of instilling a sense of comfortability for connection with both others and nature and what connection with nature truly entails. This concept permeated the remainder of the day as the foundational basis for the implementation of structures and procedures to assist in establishing this sense of calm and comfortability.
Trip Planning and Logistics
Maeve, Cottonwood’s Logistics Manager, also led an incredible review of the trip planning process, modeling a theoretical program trip and allowing for some hands-on practice. This involved a review of the potential complications and nuances involved in planning for meals, gear organization, medical plans, activity risk management, and other logistics. It also introduced some fantastic new systems for gear requests and organization that will expedite the planning and packing process for trips and open new doors for providing opportunities to more students.
Structure and Risk Management Systems
Our incredible Risk Management Coordinator, Sadie, also led a training on the new and improved safety systems that are being implemented to enable instructors and students alike to experience the sense of comfort necessary to build bonds with each other and nature. This involves everything from new technological resources that allow for downloading necessary locations, such as landlines and helicopter evacuation locations on Google Maps, to our much improved ERP or Emergency Response Plan. All of these resources and procedures provide the foundation on which our programs are able to thrive.
During the training, Raquel Sapp from Back Country Pulse led a fantastic WFA/WFR refresher course on how to respond to emergency situations via the Patient Assessment System. This involved a detailed review of the protocol and procedure for analyzing and acting in medical emergencies, as well as a fantastic practice scenario to put that new knowledge to use and allow for hands-on exploration of its various nuances.