Adventure Guide Intern Update - Assessments, Graduation, & Work Placement

The latest update from Kaylee Pickett, one of our adventure guide interns based in Queenstown:

 

NZOIA ASSESSMENTS 

After having prepared in every way we could think necessary – practicing every knot a hundred times, quizzing each other on plant names and uses, planning sessions – we had the last three months put to the test. Over four days, we were assessed by a lovely guide from the New Zealand Outdoor Instructor Association in the hopes of achieving our Rock, Abseil, and Bush Leader qualifications. Rock and Abseil came first, with our personal skills assessed on day one and our group management evaluated the second day. Bush followed the same format over days three and four.

I have always over-prepared for exams and assessments in the past, so I treated my NZOIA assessment the same. I set up top rope and abseil systems over and over again, watched videos to see how other guides teach belay technique, ran through the steps of personal safety in my head constantly. I tried to plan our group day as much as possible to avoid any unforeseen missteps that could cost us. In the end, all of my planning paid off, but was also a bit of overkill.

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The nerves dissipated as we worked our way through each skill on the first day of rock, with each of us feeling more and more confident as we received satisfactory marks. Our assessment location was changed the morning of, so we were a bit nervous about setting up our systems and maintaining our personal safety at a crag we hadn’t climbed at in two months. We were reminded of something very important in this change of events: it doesn’t matter where you are or who you’re with, the systems are the same, the safety is the same, and we’ve been trained to do things correctly and will do them correctly so long as we follow the steps we’ve been practicing.

The group rock climbing session had everyone excited and a bit anxious, as none of us had ever acted as lead climbing guide before, only under another guide during our work experience with Climbing Queenstown. We planned the day as best we could, expecting to work our groups of two through four climbs on top rope and one long abseil like clock-work. I delivered the welcome briefing, we split the group into two’s and grabbed a pair each, and set to work getting our brave volunteers fit with harnesses, shoes, and helmets before bringing them over to the crag. We had arrived an hour or so before the clients to set up our ropes, so we jumped right into belay instruction, safe climbing technique, and getting the clients stoked for a great day of cragging in Wanaka.

We had two NZOIA assessors watching nearly everything we did with our clients, making notes, ticking boxes, and ensuring we kept everyone safe and happy. Aside from one of my clients getting a bit spooked by the heights, we all cruised through the day and the assessment with hardly any hiccups.

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The Bush personal skill assessment felt much more relaxed after having received passing marks in Rock and Abseil, so we took a collective deep breath and eased back into our normal, goofy selves. We were evaluated on our ability to determine distance and timing for various legs of the Lower Routeburn Track, on giving six-figure grid references for our locations once we arrived at the leader’s stopping point, on shelter building, plant identification, other aspects of navigation, and general knowledge of the area.

Our client day ran a bit differently from the rock and abseil, as each of us took turns guiding the full group while the others kept in the back behind the clients. We each acted as lead guide for a minimum of an hour, exercising our group management skills, providing interpretation, chatting to clients, and answering questions. Aside from the massive amount of rain that fell throughout the day, we again had a quite cruisy day that ended with hot cups of tea on the bus back to Queenstown and very happy clients (and guides).

We were each given numerical values for the many skills and required tasks of the NZOIA qualifications, with a 3 meriting a pass, 4 meaning we’d done something a bit better than expected, and 5 demonstrating excellence. For me personally, it was nice to have a quantifiable evaluation of what I’d learned over the past three months and what I was now able to do.

By the end of the four days, we were absolutely exhausted mentally and physically. I had set an alarm on my watch for 5:30 pm, to alert us when it was TIME TO PARTY, but by the time it rolled around half of us were asleep in the lounge.

 

GRADUATION 

As our final group activity, our program director gave us an address in town, a time to arrive, and sent us on our way. I was beyond stoked when we arrived at Queenstown’s Escape Room and could hardly contain myself when they gave us Victorian-era hats and scarves to help get us into a Sherlock Holmes-esque mindset. The five of us were quite spastic trying to place each clue, and although we escaped with one minute to spare and solved the murder mystery, we needed lots of help from the eye in the sky that regularly gave us hints.

“The answer is 9! Try 9!”

(BEEP)

Clue on the screen – “The answer is not 9.”

Pizza at Winnie’s and some drinks finished off an awesome graduation night. The following day we received our certificates of completion of the Pure Exploration program and our Swift Water Rescue & Pre Hospital Emergency Care certificates. Just like that, we were finished! Ready to join the world of outdoor guides! (gulp)

 

WORK PLACEMENT

Life post program meant different things for all of us. One member of the crew had a job lined up for the (Northern Hemisphere) winter, so she cruised home a few days after graduation. Another was jonesin’ to get back on the road and explore the South Island a bit more, so he bought a van and set off on an epic road trip. 

The rest of us are working in Queenstown. One guy had scored a job at Ziptrek, the ziplining company in Queenstown, and had been working there for a couple of weeks by the time we finished our assessments. His training coincided with our schedule, so he was unable to sit his NZOIA exams, but he has since worked in the trees for over a month now and will go for his qualifications in a few months. The last is working for Serious Fun Riverboarding managing the shop and the company’s day-to-day.

I’ve been super lucky to split my time between Pure Exploration as a program advisor and doing some administration work with guiding for Climbing Queenstown. A typical day for me starts with a morning of helping people from around the world get down to New Zealand on one of our programs (hopefully this is you!) and ends with an afternoon of guiding rock climbing in Sunshine Bay. Sometimes it can get a bit hectic, but I am super passionate about both opportunities I’ve been given and love both companies so much. 

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11th June 2019

And they're off!! Over the next 12 weeks the students on our Expedition Leader program will be sharing their incredible journey with us..Check out blog #1 written by Chloe from Canada - filling us in on arriving into Ecuador and how things went for orientation week 🔥 https://www.pureexploration.nz/about/news/week-one-orientation-expedition-leader-program/

8th June 2019

Day one of the Expedition Leader program 💥 Instructors Keri & Jess are taking the team through orientation to set everyone up mentally for the next three months of travel and experiential education. The crew range from 18-34yo, hailing from Aus, Canada, the US and Hungary 🙌 📷: Jessica Thomas

5th June 2019

Pure Exploration Instructors Keri & Jess have arrived in Quito, Ecuador - ready to welcome the crew to the start of the Expedition Leader Program in a couple of days..The new students will be learning about adventure travel management, group leadership, logistics, expedition style travel in developing regions, along with trekking in some of the world’s most famous and spectacular mountainous and remote regions. Have the best time guys, we can't wait for updates! 🔥 #expeditionleaderprogram #ELP #Pureexploration

18th April 2019

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8th April 2019

This is Torres del Paine. No explanation required really. So rad. Is Patagonia on your bucket list yet? Go on... https://bit.ly/2IcDTEb

6th April 2019

Our adventure programs take you to some amazing places around the world. The pic is the Tiger Leaping Gorge in Southern China. If you're a hiker, you need to get here. Learn more about where we travel here https://bit.ly/2I0bmmd

4th April 2019

These guys are busy with their NZOIA assessments this week, the final step in our program to putting all the pieces together as far as skills and experiences go. Go team!

25th March 2019

Time to meet the team! This is John. He is one of our Program Instructors, currently leading a group completing the Adventure Guide Program in Queenstown, New Zealand. John grew up enjoying the outdoors of Florida. Having joined the military when he turned 18, he soon began traveling and seeing the world, thus instilling in him a passion for travel. In the military as a JTAC, he was responsible for directing the action of combat aircraft. He received training not only in his core job skills but also navigation, survival, and bushcraft. After the military, he moved to Bend, Oregon to pursue his helicopter pilots license. Climbing in the countless places available to him in Central Oregon, he soon developed a passion for the sport as well as a deeper appreciation for the outdoors. John is a legend with a heart of gold, and an even bigger appetite - for food and for the outdoors! It's awesome having him on our team

24th March 2019

Enjoying the long warm days of Autumn in New Zealand with a week in the glorious surrounds of Mt Cook National Park.

20th March 2019

Adventure Guide Program crew meeting some key adventure tourism industry employers from around New Zealand tonight at our networking event. It's so great to be able to make these connections and get CVs straight into the key recruiters hands.

19th March 2019

Step away from the desk job and join us for a few months of outdoor fun. Go on...

17th March 2019

Orientation week in New Zealand is a chance to settle in, get to know your new team mates and explore this new land which will become home for the next 12 weeks.

14th March 2019

What types of people come on our programs? People from all over the globe join us for adventure travel missions. Generally we see people who are between 19 - 32 years old - taking a break before college, taking a break for getting into the workplace, taking a break from their work desk! It's all about immersing yourself in the outdoors, forgetting the pressures of everyday and enjoying feeling fit, healthy and renews by visiting new places. Join the crew!

12th March 2019

A good spot for reflection (and a cup of tea) after a big week exploring the New Zealand back country.

10th March 2019

It's time to get the hiking backpack out of the cupboard and buy a ticket abroad. Go on....

8th March 2019

Our adventure travel programs are all about living life to the full, getting away from your work desk, putting down that phone and refreshing your soul. Fresh air, fascinating cultures, like minded mates, learning new skills. Join the crew and take some time to focus on you!

8th March 2019

Happy #internationalwomensday ! Women lead the way in so many ways. We are proud to offer young women from around the world the chance to gain confidence in themselves and their skills. Bring on the future!

8th March 2019

When your thousands of kms from home, if you're lucky, you'll find another kind of oddball/amazing family to call your own.

6th March 2019

Views for days

5th March 2019

New kiwi maaaaaaaaates... 🐑🐑🐑

5th March 2019

A huge welcome to the newest crew to join us for an Adventure Guide Program. Enjoy your awesome Orientation Week, then it's business time!

3rd March 2019

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1st March 2019

From ultra-light bivvy bags, moisture wicking tops and merino bottoms, to polarized sunglasses, flint firelighters and seam-sealed jackets ... gear nerds are our kinds of people.

1st March 2019

Hailing from: The Netherlands, United Kingdom, Sweden, USA, Australia, Greece, Poland and Canada!!! Introducing the March Adventure guide crew on their first day in Queenstown 🙌 Welcome team we are so stoked to have you here!