The world we have known is changing, and it has already changed in many ways. What we so
easily took for granted as mundane and routine has been uprooted. COVID-19 has opened our eyes to
the vulnerability every one of us faces each day. Out workplaces, grocery stores, and homes all affected
by such an imaginably powerful force, it is enough for anyone to become anxious. No one truly knows
how everything will look in the near future as we all scramble to figure out our unique situations. The
amount of control we once exerted over our lives no longer there. The freedoms we so easily took for
granted feel pressed upon and even taken away. In this time of uncertainty, what does it mean to be an
|Gabe Garcez received his COE Clinic Certificate from instructors |
Brad Daniel (left) and Andrew Bobilya (right) at the 2020 ICOL at HoneyRock
Uncertainty: it is as if the entire world holds its breath as it ruminates on this word. There was
no action plan for such a swift societal pivot. For all our planning and frameworks we never saw COVID-
19 coming. It kind of feels like a wilderness trip gone wrong, doesn’t it? There were plans, expectations,
preparations, and precautions taken, but - as we all know - to be in the wilderness is to be in the unknown.
Because within the unknown there is inherent uncertainty. The difference is it is an uncertainty that we expect; changing weather, blocked paths, a forgotten injury creeping up on someone. There is a mindset we fall into while in the wilderness, a mental space where we expect to be surprised, where our plans have
For all its beauty and wonder the wilderness can be harsh and unforgiving. Yet we constantly
bring others into it. So why? Why do we put others in situations where even when we have taken every
precaution we cannot guarantee their safety? I would say it is because we all know of the transformative
power of the unknown, the growth and experience not found elsewhere. The difference for the outdoor
professional is we have become accustomed to uncertainty in the wilderness.
At this moment, countless others are facing levels of uncertainty they have never felt before.
There is no guide to help them along the way, though -- no calming presence. I believe that now, more
than ever, the outdoor professional has something of value for every person. Every home, school,
workplace, gathering place has become a wilderness experience, a trip into the unknown. With
uncertainty in every step forward, each of us must grow in our capacity to handle uncertainty. I believe
more than providing outdoor experiences quickly, our next step should be to empower those around us
to take up a wilderness mindset, so that even in an uncertain world others can experience peace.
Coordinator for Bear Adventures at Baylor University
2020 Certified Outdoor Educator Clinic Student
Gabe also invites you to join a Community Chat on May 28th
to continue this discussion or connect over other issues. Read more here.