Q&A with Former Pure Exploration Adventure Guide Program Participant

Liz Lucas participated in our Queenstown Adventure Guide program a few years back and has since gone on to work for Pacific Discovery as an Instructor and a multi-day backpacking guide all over the US. We caught up with her to ask her a few questions about her experience with Pure Exploration.

1. Why did you choose to go on the Adventure Guide Program?

I chose to go on the Adventure Guide Program because I wanted to be in New Zealand and learn some practical skills to be able to put toward a career in the outdoors.

2. What was the most memorable moment of your program?

The most memorable moment was being off-trail with the group and being completely surrounded by fog. We camped on a summit of a low peak and woke up to snow and fog all around us. We threw together a quick brekkie and headed off into the abyss. This was the most frightening part for a few of the participants, being seemingly in the middle of nowhere and not being able to truly see where we were going. It took trust in our map and compass skills to get us to a hut where we could warm up and get some lunch.

Pre Exploration Liz Lucas

3. Do you still keep in touch with your coursemates?

Yes, I keep in touch with a few of them on a very regular basis. It's one of the best things that came from the experience was the bonds that I formed through the AGP.

4. In what ways have you used your qualifications gained during the AGP?

I am now a multi-day backpacking guide all over the United States. These qualifications got me into the outdoor industry; it got me in the door to the job of a lifetime.

5. What does your current job look like?

As a multi-day backpacking guide, I take up to seven guests into the backcountry for 4-7 days at a time. Together we traverse either the mountains or desert, setting up and breaking down camp each day. Many of the guests are first-time backpackers and those are the most special to me. I get to introduce people to spaces that very few people get to experience, we sleep under the stars, share stories, throw tarps up to protect us from the rain, cook epic fancy meals, and I usually bake a cake as well. Guest packs weigh between 25-45 pounds (depending on how many luxuries guests bring).

6. How has completing the Adventure Guide Program helped you in your jobs post-program?

From the AGP, I made some connections that I was able to call and get a job. For example, because of my participation, I was able to apply for a job with Pacific Discovery, the sister company of Pure Exploration, and from that, I have had the privilege of leading four programs. Then from there, another Pacific Discovery instructor was able to direct me to my next job as a field instructor for a private adventure school in which I gained even more experience that eventually got me to the guiding company I work for now.

Pure Exploration Liz

7. Looking back, how has going on the Adventure Guide Program impacted your life?

It gave me a new direction in life. It got me the qualifications and the confidence to guide people in an outdoor environment. The Adventure Guide Program gave me direct training to work with guests in the backcountry. It also gave me great friends, and a great step into an industry I dreamed of being in.

8. What is your biggest takeaway from this program?

My biggest takeaway is to follow your soul's pull. It was a complete impulse to sign up for the AGP. I had a longing for a couple of months to get to New Zealand and then one day I found the AGP, interviewed, and signed up. I didn't have all the pieces together but my soul was telling me I needed to do it. Following that intuition set me in the direction of doing what I do now and loving it.

9. Do you have any advice for someone looking to become a program instructor?

As an instructor, pass on ALL the knowledge you have, the fun facts, the ways you have been more effective in your job. Use compassion and curiousity to create a space of learning and connection. This is much more than passing on the hard skills, becoming an outdoor guide is all about the soft skills. The hard skills keep people safe and the soft skills make it an EXPERIENCE!!!

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