010 Adventure Education with Jessica Jens

The value of a shared experience has a lasting impact on families ability to bounce back from adversity. Shared family adventure experiences are transferable to so many aspects of life.

Welcome Back. I took a slight pause after the holidays and things got a little crazy last week so I decided to hold onto this episode. January for me has always been an excuse for a fresh perspective, so whether you have been with us from the start or you are just finding us, I want to welcome you to the show. Ordinary Sherpa is on a mission to inspire families to connect through simple and authentic adventure experiences, while simultaneously supporting you through an online Sherpa community. What I hope you find is that this community isn’t as focused on the insta-worthy tourist destinations (sure those still show up in our stories), but rather the journey and experience of simply participating in an adventure experience as a family.

You get to define what adventure means to you. Much of my adventure story includes travel, and I wanted to share a resource with each of you. If airline travel is making its way back into your story, I HIGHLY recommend you check out Scott’s Cheap Flights. They curate the best flight deals to your inbox. Because of Scott’s Cheap Flights we were able to fly round trip from Green Bay to Anchorage for under $200/person in peak travel season. These tickets are regularly closer to $400-$500.  You can try their Premium Membership for free for 30-days…But they have a major sale happening right now. Their Premium Membership is typically $49/year, but until January 31, 2021 it is only $29/year.  I only share resources that I find value in, and this is definitely one worth exploring. Since many people redefined adventure in 2020 (which I shared many stories of that in Episode 008 with Ed Tee) I am sharing this as some are considering adding travel back into their adventure definition for 2021 and beyond.

Today’s episode features Jessica Jens. Jessica and I met when we worked together with University of Wisconsin Extension – Youth Development leading leadership and educational experiences for youth. I have long admired and respected Jessica’s courage to help push beyond traditional boundaries to find new ways to help individuals learn and grow. Her soapboxes of transparency, honesty, acceptance and individual superpowers have led her to excel in creating both personal and professional adventure experiences.

Belief in the power and opportunity of adventure experiences drives Jessica to support all kids, adults, and families in their quest for a novel and unique path through life. Making a choice to pick adventure education as a field of study for her graduate work, she quickly discovered that perhaps muddy shoes, tired legs, messy hair, wide vistas, and fresh air can provide just as much self-reflection and learning as months of couches and therapy.

Professionally, Jessica has worked much of her life in the areas of youth development, environmental education, organizational growth, fundraising, and nonprofit leadership. She provides servant leadership while standing on her core soapboxes of transparency, honesty, acceptance, and individual superpowers.

Jessica is a daughter, wife, mother, backpacker, rock climber, horseback rider, lover of chickens, super bad gardener, and sailor in training. She lives with her husband James, and their two adolescent children on a small hobby farm in southeast Wisconsin. 

Key Takeaways

  1. Adventure Education is about the transformation of people using the natural world and experiences.  It works because it is novel.
  2. Memorable experiences don’t have to be epic.  The sustainability of the experience is based on your experience and moments of self-discovery.
  3. Transformation happens when you move out of the comfort zone into the stretch zone, but avoiding the panic zone.  The stretch zone is where learning and growth happens. Experiences on adventure trips when pushing yourself outside your comfort zone are incredibly transferable to our everyday lives. 
  4. Visualize the frayed rope.  What is the scariest thing you’ve ever done?  If you can get through that, you can get through this!
  5. It’s important we are able to recognize the panic zone in kids and others.  You don’t learn in the panic zone, so being able to recognize the cues and check in is an important aspect to the adventure experience process.
  6. You can control your fear if you have to
  7. Talk about it.  The reflection of the experience is critical.
  8. At a basic level, adventures allow us the opportunity to examine our choices and learn from them for next time
  9. End when having fun. The last memory of the experience will be the one that sticks.  It might mean being creative on the final leg to make it special, or it might mean stopping sooner.  There is little value in pushing through.
  10. What are your family’s superpowers?  Focus on  the strengths vs. deficits of each individual creates an experience where everyone is valued for their contributions.  Consider each individual’s superpowers in the adventure design.
  11. Family systems theory shows the value of a shared experience has a lasting impact on families ability to bounce back from adversity.  Each individual can have a unique and shared experience in that the way they internalize or perceive the experience may be different, however the simple act of sharing an experience, makes the experience relatable and transferable for everyone involved.
  12. Adventuring with adolescents requires perseverance.  They might not show their appreciation or act like they are finding value in the experience, but stay the course and ask them a week or month later to get a better understanding of the experience.  Moments that feel like torture are really moments of growth a week later.
  13. Many parents opt-out of adventures because they are afraid their child will ask them a question and they won’t know the answer.  If this is you, know there are so many people and organizations here to support you without judgement (including the Ordinary Sherpa Community). 
  14. Adventure as a family is a great practice in letting go of perfectionist tendencies.

If you found value from this episode- share it! The greatest compliment to a podcast is to leave a written review.  The more written reviews a podcast gets the more accessible it becomes to people who need to hear these stories.  It is the single greatest action you can do to help Ordinary Sherpa reach the individuals and families who need to hear these stories.

If you have additional questions for Jessica, she is an active member of Ordinary Sherpa Facebook Group, or you can connect with her through RiversEdge Nature Center in-person, through email or on the social media accounts below.

Website: riveredgenaturecenter.org

Email: jjens@riveredge.us

Facebook:https://www.facebook.com/riveredgenaturecenter

Instagram:https://www.instagram.com/riveredgenaturecenter/

Twitter https://twitter.com/riveredgenc?lang=en

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