Wonder What It Takes To Be An Outdoor Facilitator? Volunteer For Our C...

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Wonder What It Takes To Be An Outdoor Facilitator? Volunteer For Our Collaborative Leadership Programme If You’re Up For A Challenge

Category Experiential Learning, Collaborative Leadership Programme, Colleges, Corporates

By Janusa Sangma

2024-01-25

The Collaborative Leadership Programme (CLP) has been a labour of love, research, and learning for Indiahikes since 2011. As part of the programme, corporates or management students from across the country gather in the Himalayas for an intensive strategy game unlike any other. 

Their challenge is to plan and execute a Himalayan trek as a team. The goal is to reach a high summit together over four days while navigating tough terrain and complex group dynamics, setting up camps, and preparing their own meals. 

Challenges emerge on the expedition (mostly by design), while others occur naturally in the elements. Students live and breathe teamwork and management lessons in the mountains, internalising vital learnings that remain for life.

An army of people work tirelessly behind the scenes to make the programme possible.

This article is about the silent but undeniable heroes of the experience - our volunteers, and why volunteering for the programme is as invaluable and impactful.

An important disclaimer: 

Like any volunteering experience, this one needs heart and motivation. But volunteering for the CLP isn't for the faint-hearted. It's immensely rewarding but physically, emotionally, and mentally demanding. 

The setting

Let’s take you through the overall setting, people involved, and a volunteer’s role within the programme.

Location: A pristine high-altitude trek in the Himalayas. The campsite buzzes with activity as a group of management students or corporate employees arrive for the programme. As a volunteer, you will be getting to know them up close and personal over the next couple of days.

Key people involved:

  • Trek Leader: Indiahikes assigns a dedicated trek leader for the entire group
  • Game Master: The planning and execution of the programme rests with the Game Master
  • Volunteers (also known as facilitators) assist the Game Master 
  • Participants are thoughtfully divided into teams of 7 or 10 people. Every volunteer/facilitator is responsible for one team
The role of the volunteer

Volunteers are facilitators

Volunteers are facilitators who assist the Game Master. Each facilitator is assigned a team for whom they are responsible. 

Volunteers are responsible for setting the context, facilitating thoughtful reflections, and providing a supportive, encouraging, and motivating environment. 

It is critical that volunteers are on board and understand the overall objective. Should participants lose sight of the purpose, volunteers must guide them back on track.

Volunteers nudge learning in the right direction

Volunteers must remember that they are facilitators for Indiahikes, not part of their smaller teams. They must resist the urge to participate in the challenge themselves or feel unduly attached to the team.

We appreciate the rich knowledge and experience our volunteers bring with them. But they must be willing to hold back and gently nudge participants’ learning without feeling the need to personally jump in and intervene. Doing so can be counterproductive for participants who may miss out on valuable opportunities for growth.

Volunteers must refrain from sermonising or discussing too much theory

Volunteers follow the Game Master’s lead. They must avoid the tendency to impart excessive knowledge/theory or preach during reflections. 

Who is our ideal volunteer?

Volunteers are crucial to ensuring programme success. We look for:

  • A strong understanding of the programme’s purpose and the activities we conduct
  • Someone who can step back and allow the process to unfold
  • Maturity, work experience, and the ability to trust both the process and Indiahikes 
  • Someone who engages without preconceived notions or a sense of knowing better
  • Strong facilitation skills and the ability to guide impactful reflections
  • Active participation and hands-on involvement with the Indiahikes team 
  • Someone who’s physically fit and has the energy after the trek to help facilitate activities, reflections, and post-dinner check-ins
What to expect on the programme

A high-altitude trek is never easy. Beyond the intense physical demands of the trek, volunteers drive learning and ensure participants’ emotional and mental well-being.

To ensure effective facilitation, volunteers must rise above personal fears or needs such as dealing with the cold, seeking off hours, or needing downtime during the programme.

You will be on the go 24/7 for four days, each day demanding high enthusiasm levels and readiness to be on your feet. The work never stops. 

If you're not ready to embrace a challenge of this nature, this might not be the right fit for you.

The Process

Before the trek

  • An application process
  • An interview with shortlisted candidates
  • Preparation for the trek
  • Get fit for the trek
  • Attend an online training session where the Indiahikes team takes you through the program and what to expect
  • Study documents on: the programme (what to expect), how to conduct reflections (the purpose, process, and impact), adventure programming – understanding the theory and the Indiahikes approach

During the trek

  •  Volunteers arrive at the slope one day before the participants
  • They attend an in-person training session with the game master and trek leader
  • Volunteers go through a session on how to conduct and facilitate reflections
  • The participants arrive the next day. We divide them into teams.
  • Every volunteer is in charge of one team. Volunteers ensure participants get their rentals and rooms. They check for health issues among the group, if any.
  • Volunteers check in daily with the game master and trek leader. Everyone comes together after dinner for internal discussions on how the programme is going. 

Volunteers are part of the Indiahikes team and crucial to ensuring the programme’s success. They assist the trek leader in trek leading responsibilities and assist the game master in programme facilitation, specifically during reflections.

Why volunteer?

Experience a one-of-a-kind leadership opportunity

This is a rare opportunity to showcase and develop your leadership skills in real-world, challenging situations. Volunteers take the lead in guiding a group of management students or corporate teams through the unpredictable terrains of the Himalayas.

Enhance your leadership style

You are in an environment that demands quick thinking, adaptability, and effective decision-making. Volunteering for CLP isn’t just about guiding others; it's about honing and refining your own leadership style amidst dynamic conditions. 

Sharpen facilitation skills

You learn the art of facilitating meaningful reflections in an environment where every decision matters. The programme sharpens your ability to guide discussions that are focused, impactful, and contribute to participants’ personal and professional growth.

Understand Outdoor Experiential Learning

You gain insights into the world of outdoor experiential learning programs – a front-row seat to the intersection between adventure, nature, and learning.

Gain an insider’s view of what happens behind the scenes on a Himalayan trek

You have the opportunity to observe and learn the fundamentals of planning and executing treks the Indiahikes way; ideal for anyone interested in a career outdoors.

Finally, is volunteering for you?

What unites all our volunteers is a shared sense of purpose. Like us, you believe that trekking transforms the body, mind, and spirit. You are probably a person with powerful intrinsic motivation.

To help you understand whether volunteering is the right fit, ask yourself these questions as honestly as possible.

  • Are you an adventure enthusiast looking for more than just a typical trek? For you, the outdoors isn’t just an escape but a space that offers immense personal learning and growth.
  • Do you have a minimum of three years of work experience and a proven track record of leading groups?
  • Are you a skilled communicator who understands the indispensable role of effective communication in team dynamics?
  • Do you believe that learning never stops, regardless of how old you are or how much experience you have?
  • Do you actively seek opportunities to challenge and enhance your skills?
  • Are you eager to develop your facilitation and leadership skills outdoors?
  • Would you call yourself a people person with a positive "can-do" attitude?
  • Are you in peak physical condition to take on tough terrain, altitude, and unpredictable weather in the Himalayas?

Additionally, every volunteer:

  • Must be between the age of 25 and 35
  • Must have done at least one Himalayan trek with Indiahikes

If you answered yes to each of these questions, you might just be the perfect addition to our growing community of volunteers!

Ready for an unforgettable adventure? Write to prathima@indiahikes.com to apply.

Janusa Sangma

Content Writer

About the author

Janusa is most at home exploring a faraway mountain trail. She follows the music wherever it may lead, guided by her ever-constant anchors – a love for writing, the mountains, wildlife, and grassroots work in the social sector.

She enjoys writing for organisations and individuals creating meaningful impact.

Before taking up writing as a full-time profession, she worked with corporates, non-profits, social enterprises, education companies, and PR organisations.

When she's not bent over a computer or buried in a Word Document, you will find her befriending a dog (any dog), swimming, or running for the hills.

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