>>>>Subject: What about buy-in?
Posted: 04/15/2007 19:52:56 MDT by Brian James (bjamesd)
To be blunt, when I hear stories about so-called "students" destroying bomber gear through pure belligerent ham-fistedness, I want to call them spoiled brats.
I was a scout, and from the first time I touched a tent or a stove I knew darned well that I was to learn to handle these items with care. Why? Because it was what we had to keep the rain off of our heads and to put food in our bellies, and most importantly it was *all* we had. It was all we had for that trip, but it was also all we had for that season or longer.
We spent countless hours going from door to door collecting empty bottles and cans to buy that equipment, and a given tent could already have survived a decade or more of 4-season camping before it kept the snow or rain off of our faces. We were taught to respect our gear, to protect it and maintain it.
Imagine a soldier standing in front of his drill instructor, asking for a new rifle because his was full of sand and dented. Would the DI say "this guy's just new; he's never even handled a weapon before"? No way. When your life depends on your kit, the number one lesson is caring for your kit. You'd be embarrassed to be the guy who blew a hole through his shelter or who slammed his pack down and wrecked a seam.
Are these students so spoiled that they're allowed to thrash steel-and-cordura equipment to within an inch of its' life, and the instructors just sigh and pull a 3lb repair kit from a 70lb pack? Is that an instructor, or a servant?
In my opinion, caring for your kit (and not being a hoon with it) is one of the most basic lessons of outdoorsmanship. Whether your kit is made of silnylon or 200-denier smithsonian fabric, if you refuse to be a responsible steward of it then are you really "with the program"? Or are you just acting like a city-dwelling consumer who has repair and replacement at his fingertips 24 hours a day?
Supposing the students had buy-in on protecting their kit? Supposing they were charged for damage, or penalized in some other way? Their grades maybe? I'm just brainstorming; I know nothing of NOLS.
Supposing that students were informed at the outset that one of the great challenges of outdoorsmanship is to have a safe and enjoyable time using only available resources?
I think that the whole you-smash-it-I'll-repair-it philosophy goes along with the previous poster's comment about dominating the outdoors vs. being in harmony with it. If you need bomber combat-grade tackle just to get from point A to point B, have you really learned the lesson that nature is trying to teach you? If you're not capable of returning a siltarp and a ULA pack in the *same* condition in which they were rented to you, *have you really passed the course??*<<<<
I'm There with you Brian. I wish our students had the experience you did.
Had they spent "countless hours going from door to door collecting empty bottles and cans to buy that equipment, Then maybe they would have a better appriciation of the value of it."
Our students do not have that experience. They show up the night before, often on a smaller plane than they have ever imagined, the next day they are are issued gear, they ration food, have a little time to meet each other, the next day they are in the field. Maybe more in town time would be beneficial to going lighter? I am not sure.
Please do not think that we are not teaching students to respect and care for their gear. They are, in fact evaluated and graded on this.
>>>"Supposing the students had buy-in on protecting their kit? Supposing they were charged for damage, or penalized in some other way? Their grades maybe? I'm just brainstorming; I know nothing of NOLS."<<<
As I stated above, students are graded on care of the equipment. Maybe it would be easier to gauge w/ lighter weight gear?
Students are charged for damage, and it is reflected in their grade, at least on the courses I run.
There is a big difference between an organization that runs weekend trips, and one that runs 30 day trips back to back. And I'm not trying to discount your experience, but a week or a weekend is a different thing than a 30 day course, particularly when the gear is turned around in 24 hrs.