Life after the Expedition Leader Program

Chloe was one of nine participants who joined us on our Expedition Leader Program in June 2019, to embark on a 12 week adventure through Ecuador, Galapagos, Peru, China, Laos, Thailand and Nepal. Chloe kept the world up to date with their journey throughout the three months and has kindly shared with us her thoughts and reflections post program.

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When I left Quebec to join the Expedition Leader Program (ELP) team in June, I had no idea how much knowledge I would return home with three months later. I was expecting to learn the general stuff outlined in the syllabus such as leadership skills, travel management, logistics, cultural knowledge and other hard skills – and I did. Never in a million years did I imagine how much I would learn about myself, and the world.

During our last few days in Nepal we took time to reflect on what our main takeaways from the program were. As we sat at Jiva’s Café in the heart of Pokhara and listened to each other’s thoughts, it became apparent that the ELP had achieved exactly what it was set out to do, and more. We were departing from the ELP as stronger, wiser and all-round better individuals than we were at our time of arrival in Quito only three months before.

I have now been back home in Canada for a little over a week. I still spend a ton of my time thinking back on those moments of reflection and what I took away from the ELP, which I am sure will be a part of me for the rest of my life. If you’re reading this blog you may have already heard many of us participants, or even the Pure Exploration team, talk about what an incredible experience the ELP was. To be honest, I don’t think we’ll ever stop expressing just how incredible it was. No words will ever do justice to the truly life changing 3 months we just had. However, for those who didn’t join us on this life changing journey, here is my best attempt at doing just that, putting it into words, by creating a list of what learnings and reflections I took home with me after my time on the program.

 

A sense of belonging

I always knew that there had to be more of us dreamers out there who want to see it all and do it all. I felt that the place where I come from had always made me feel quite lonely in that sense, as I wasn’t surrounded by fellow dreamers. A few weeks prior to departing for the ELP I had finished a university degree. I believed that society’s expectations for people like me were always a little different and a lot more structured than what I had in mind for myself. After traveling with like-minded individuals who are equally passionate about the world, I am so happy to have decided to break the mould and follow my own path. If you are aching to do the same, please do it. The world is too beautiful for you to miss out on. You can’t miss out on seeing the beauty the world beholds because of what others have planned for you. Once you put yourself out there you will find the people with whom you belong and with whom you will build incredibly strong, life long and beautiful relationships.

Renewed optimism

It is often difficult to see the “good” happening in the world when we are sitting in our own little corner absorbed in the news on the television and the stories on the internet. Trust me when I say that there is so much of it out there, there is an abundance of goodness in the world. I experienced the purest forms of goodness whilst on the ELP. From dancing and playing with children during community projects, to laughing with street food vendors late at night, or singing with a taxi driver in the middle of traffic. I am now so certain that people are good regardless of where you travel. Our group were greeted with the most welcoming smiles in every country we visited and treated like family on countless occasions. The negativity we see in the media accounts for less than 1% of what is truly happening in the world. You realize this very quickly when you get to experience so much of the world in such a short period of time, as we did during the Expedition Leader Program.

Humans need to understand their connection to nature

We were lucky enough to experience nature in so many ways during our three months travelling; through our environmental project in Cusco, learning about conservation in the Galapagos, and by being fully immersed in it during our multiple treks through the mountain peaks and luscious rainforests. I have always felt a strong personal connection and sense of appreciation for nature. This feeling of being at one intensified throughout the trip and I would love all humans to have an opportunity in their lives to feel this bond in its purest form. Being immersed in nature makes me a happier and healthier human being. I feel every human who got the chance to experience the great outdoors and all it has to offer would feel the benefits also.

Humans are all interconnected

Our interconnectedness as human beings allows us to communicate and form such strong connections without having to worry about language barriers. We are all one and the same. We all feel love and pain. We all share smiles. We all have our own version of struggle. There is a depth in all of us that allows us to connect on such a basic, important and beautiful level. Disconnect between people of different cultures, races, religion and so on can be entirely attributed to a lack of effort to understand. We share so many of the same ideas and basic emotions. We all crave a good life, good health, happiness and love. We simply need to take the time to listen.

 

I could likely keep adding the things I’ve learn for hundreds of pages, but I think these four key takeaways encompass a lot of what will stay with me for the rest of my life. I can’t speak for the others on the program about what their most important takeaways were, but I can say one thing for sure, we were all shocked by the type of knowledge we were leaving with. While the program was built on strong foundations that would enable us to learn more about ourselves and the world, it is incredible to think how much everyone on the team took the opportunity to fully immerse themselves in the experience. I strongly believe that when it comes to experiences like these, you get out what you put in. I think we all left with more than we ever expected to and that was because we gave more of ourselves than we ever thought we could.

I should also add that I come back home with 10 new best friends. All of us joined the program with different life experiences, values and beliefs. These 10 friends taught me so much over the three months. Here are some final words to thank those who quickly became my family.

Jessica T - Your endless enthusiasm and passion for the world around you is contagious. Thank you for being your beautiful self.

Keri W - Passion, reflection and curiosity makes you one heck of an admirable and inspiring woman. Thank you for allowing me to experience your beauty and knowledge.

Sarah P - Vulnerability and strength should always go hand in hand. Thank you for being a relatable source of support and love.

John M - Creating your own path to happiness is key to not missing out on this wonderful life we were given. Thank you for lighting a fire in me that will forever push me to chase my dreams.

Jessica M - It's when we are pushing what we thought our limits were that we truly begin to shine. Thank you for reminding me to keep stretching my comfort zone.

Zoltan L - Your ability to adapt and turn every situation into a good time is remarkable. Thank you for reminding me to always live life to the fullest.

Caitlin F - Learning, reflection, love and kindness suit you so well. Thank you for being a source of light in my life.

Miranda J - Curiosity and passion make the best citizens. Thank you for reminding me that there are so many good people who truly care.

Zack O - Compassion and care are underrated. Thank you for always taking the time to show us how much we all matter.

Chloe H - A listening ear and a big hug goes a long way. Thank you for being the loving shoulder I was able to lean on.

 

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If you'd like to see more photos from the June intake of the Expedition Leader Program you can do so here. Pure Exploration would love to say a huge thank you to Chloe and each of the Expedition Leader Program participants (mentioned above) for your incredible energy, enthusiasm, support and adventurous curiosity over the last three months. We've loved sharing in this transformational journey with you! We'd also like to give a huge shout out to Program Instructors Keri and Jess who went above and beyond absolutely everything - thank you for your hard work and for being so amazing at what you do! You can find out more about the Expedition Leader Program here or alternatively you can send us an email for more information.


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2019-09-24

If you're interested in our Adventure Guide Program (AGP) in Queenstown, let us introduce you to "PHEC". Pre Hospital Emergency Care (PHEC) is an intense five day, crucial part of the AGP which trains participants to deal with a myriad of emergency situations. Please note the photos are not real life and are the result of great acting skills in order to recreate real life scenarios. If you'd like more information about the Adventure Guide Program or PHEC, feel free to reach out. Thank you to Peak Safety Ltd for your ongoing support!

2019-09-19

Check out the video below to hear Program Leader Keri share her experiences from the Expedition Leader Program with us. The three month immersive program wrapped at the end of August and we were lucky enough to steal 4 minutes of Keri's time to get a sweet snapshot of what the 90 days in Ecuador, Galapagos, Peru, China, Laos, Thailand and Nepal was really like!

2019-09-16

We loved having our Adventure Guide Program participants volunteer with the Wakatipu Restoration Trust last week on some important projects in Arrowtown! Thank you for having us, and we're looking to joining you again next time 😀

2019-09-12

Goodbyes have been said, reunions have been made, photos have been uploaded and time has been spent reflecting. We are thrilled to hear how much our Expedition Leader Program crew enjoyed their 12 week experience and we're so proud of what each individual achieved! We wanted to share with you one last blog from program participant Chloe, summarising the key things she has taken away from the Expedition Leader Program. Whatever you're doing in your life, we feel as though it's an important and powerful read. Enjoy, and feel free to check out the teams awesome photos in our recent album we've uploaded. We're warning you now - every photo is envy worthy!

2019-09-08

EXCITING NEWS!!!! Pure Exploration are SO excited to share our latest offering for our 2020 Adventure Guide Programs - CANYONING! Keen to sign up for one of our 12 week programs, but don't think that rock climbing is really for you? No drama! The canyoning option is now available for you to do instead of the rock climbing strand, enabling you to spend time in the water (splashing around, slipping and sliding between canyons) as well as your hiking, pre hospital emergency care and swift water rescue training. We are offering the NZOIA Canyon Leader qualification alongside the NZOIA Bush you'll also undertake over the 12 weeks. Panicking that we've dropped rock climbing? Don't be, we're still offering the rock module (which proves to be increasingly popular), we're just introducing canyoning as a further option! If you're keen to hear more just flick us a message!

2019-08-28

What is this PHEC you might hear us mentioning from time to time? PHEC stands for Pre Hospital Emergency Care, and there's a reason we keep banging on about it - if you're heading out to the back country it's vital knowledge to have. You could save a life. Regardless of whether you're heading out bush, there's actually never a bad time to undertake Pre Hospital Emergency Care and that's why we incorporate it in each of our Queenstown Adventure Guide programs. Our Patagonia Adventure Guide Program and Expedition Leader Program also feature a wilderness first aid qualification. Check out this article to find out more about PHEC and how it teaches you the skills needed to become an asset in an emergency.

2019-08-27

For those of you who are interested in our Adventure Guide Program as you'd like to get your foot in the tourism industry, look no further. Dana, an alumni from our Adventure Guide Program in 2017, was kind enough to give us a life update at the end of last year. Since graduating from the AGP the wonderful Dana has been a Director of Operations, Lead Guide and a Naturalist in the US. We'll be checking in with her shortly for another life update. Until then, have a read and join us in celebrating the successes of Dana!

2019-08-22

The Adventure Guide Program in Queenstown was always a tough one to name. The word adventure summons up thoughts of gripping journeys discovering untouched lands, undertaking challenges that your dreams haven’t even dared explore and of course, an envy worthy Instagram feed. But of course, it's so much more than that! So, in reality, what is the Adventure Guide Program? What should participants expect from it? Check out our latest blog on our website for the "6 things you should know about the Adventure Guide Program in Queenstown, NZ".

2019-08-15

Is #throwbackthursday still a thing? We're not sure, but if not, we're bringing it back! As our Adventure Guide Programs are kicking off for Spring and Summer 2019 it seemed an appropriate time to share Deni Zawalski's awesome Queenstown AGP video with you all. What's more, talk about a success story, Deni now works for Southern Lakes Heliski right here in Queenstown. Yup, she's living the sweet life long after graduating from the program! For those of you who are wondering what life could look like after the three months on program, flick us a message. We have heaps of awesome stories about alumni who have gone on to work in the industry here in Queenstown, and we would take pleasure sharing their successes with you. Thanks for letting us share Deni!

2019-08-14

We were curious to find out why some of our participants chose to join us on our Expedition Leader Program earlier this year. Chloe shares her reasons with us, maybe they're something that you can relate to as well!

2019-08-13

A huge welcome to our 11 incredible participants who have joined us from all around the world for our Adventure Guide Program here in Queenstown NZ! We're excited to show you our home, watch you grow and share in your successes over the next 12 weeks! Oh, and they're eager too - check out the evidence captured of their lake swim in the depths of winter ❄🏊‍♀️ we love the enthusiasm - brr!

2019-08-11

Things you learn when you travel the world 101. "Outgrowing people, jobs, places and situations is okay. You should not feel any shame or guilt for leaving toxicity, old patterns, or boredom behind to pursue your own journey to happiness." Check out the blog below to hear more Ah Ha! moments our Expedition Leader Program participants have identified on their travels so far.

2019-08-08

Interested in our 12 week Adventure Guide Program in Patagonia but feel a little freaked out at the thought of reaching out for more information? We get it. That's why we teamed up with the guys at GoAbroad.com to write an article all about Patagonia, hoping that it gives you an idea as to what you can expect from this sparsely populated, jaw-droppingly beautiful region which is home to some of the world's best hiking trails and rock to climb! Keen to hear more? No drama, flick us a message and we'll sort you out with some more enticing information about the program. Just don't blame us when you've canned the job and booked your flights for our November intake! 😆👌

2019-07-25

"Growth, vulnerability, pushing limits, authenticity, connections. These all come with being on the ELP team. When I signed up for this trip, I knew it would be a life changing experience in a ton of ways, but somehow, after only 1 month, we have all changed beyond expectations in more than one way." Please check out another one of Chloe's incredible, gripping blogs to find out more about how travel and adventure, plus everything that comes along with it, furthers ourselves in our own personal development journey.

2019-07-22

Ecuador, Galapagos, Ecuador and ...China?! What were both the expectations and the reality of China on our Expedition Leader Program.

2019-07-19

Last week our 2017 AGP Alumni and favourite German, Michel Affkerback, left NZ after almost 2 years with us here in Queenstown. Michel has been accepted into the Arctic Nature Guide program at the University of Norway to further his guiding career even more. It was an absolute pleasure to have Michel around, and to see his gnarly climbing, hiking and ski touring missions whilst he was in NZ. We miss you already Michel, and cant wait to hear all about your next adventures!

2019-07-18

Meet Katherine! She is an alumni from our Adventure Guide Program having completed it in early 2019. Katherine explains what she learnt on the AGP and the skills she now feels equipped with in life. Katherine has also made her home in Queenstown, New Zealand since graduating. Curious as to what you can get out of the Program even if you're not looking to become an Adventure Guide? Check out the video below, or shoot on over to our Instagram for further thoughts from Pure Ex alumni!

2019-07-15

Who wants to hear more about our ELP's experience on the Asangate trek in Peru? We do! 🙋‍♂️ "54 km, 5 days, 3 course meals, spectacular views, alpacas for days, chilly nights, and very dry hot days. This is what the Ausangate trek is all about." ... Link's below, you know what to do!