They asked, I said sure…. I mean why not teach a REAL workshop right?
Then I thought to myself after I agreed, that I didn’t know what students would want to hear, let alone from me. I am a grad student here at CSU in the Journalism school and although I was a teaching assistant and felt comfortable in front of students, what was I supposed to say?
REAL stands for Rams Engaging in Active Leadership and although I have been in leadership positions in the past, I didn’t know what juicy morsel of information I could possibly have trapped inside my thick head that would push students to either becoming better leaders or encourage them to find avenues to lead. But that was all moot since I had already agreed, so I figured I would just search my mental database and find something. The days went on, and on, and nothing came to me, could I teach about having ethics? Morals? Civic Duty? Education? Strong conviction and passion? Passion, that’s it! Ya, I mean I could have done some research and connected the dots and came up with a workshop on all of those topics, but my brain kept putting that carrot in front of my face, passion! I realized to lead you need to be passionate, about something, otherwise why or how would you lead? There I was though, stuck again, what am I passionate about that has any weight? I am getting a master’s degree, I am into health and fitness, I work at SLiCE, but my real passion I starting realizing was playing, I love to play! How could that be a REAL workshop? I figured I could talk about being an outdoor leader, I had guided people throughout the outdoors hundreds of times, but that still didn’t seem to do it, who cares right? How does that make someone a better leader? Then it hit me, I could talk about outdoor ethics, something easy to grasp and easy to teach others, that has issues of morals, and civic duty, and education connected to it. Something I am passionate about for sure! That’s it, I would teach students about how to “leave no trace,” how to have outdoor ethics and proper wilderness etiquette, ya that should do I thought!
Well I taught my workshop and had something like 14 or 15 students show up. We talked about what leave no trace means, and how to ensure that you do no harm to the environment as you play outside. It was perfectly timed, spring was here and students were getting excited about camping and spending their weekends enjoying the mountains. We discussed various techniques and theories, we talked about gear, and even laughed a bit, but what amazed me was the transformation of the conversation near the end of our time together. Students started thinking about leave no trace as a “front country” term as well, detaching it from the literal backcountry connotation that everyone attaches to it. Why just focus on having these morals and ethics while out in nature, why not walk through all life leaving no trace, no garbage or negative wake left behind. Students liked this idea and I finally saw how this could lead students to becoming stronger people and leaders. They were going to take new ideas away from my workshop that even I found intriguing, ideas as simple as doing their dishes after they used them to leave no trace in their kitchen and avoid mad roomies, or complicated ones attached to emotional wake. It was more profound than I could have imagined; something people were going to think about later that night, yet simple enough in context that at the moment it was brought up everyone could grasp.
Anyway, in the end I felt it was a success, I felt like students enjoyed my workshop, and maybe got something out of it, and all because I got an opportunity to talk about something I am passionate about…. So thanks SLiCE, and REAL for that opportunity! I hope some of you that read this get a chance to teach a REAL workshop, and discover something new and exciting about one of your passions!