Adventure Tourism alumni sitting around a campfire.

Straight from our ATBO Alumni

Sarah’s Bugaboos Close-up

“I was very excited. I was heading out on my first big trip – a four-day backpacking excursion in the Purcell Mountains. Day one was hard. Wearing new boots and carrying the biggest backpack I’ve ever carried, we hiked uphill for the entire first day. When we got to camp, I was exhausted but we still had to set up camp, cook dinner, set up bear hangs, and countless other chores before we could eat. However, the sky was clear and camping in this beautiful mountain environment made it all worthwhile. I slept well that night.”

In the morning, I got up early to make breakfast and break camp, determined to be ready for our early morning departure. The skies were still clear, and the sun was just starting to rise but it was cold enough that there was a thin layer of ice in my water bottle. We were all eager to get moving so we’d warm up, so we started our ascent to a high ridge line. I was not prepared for what I saw. From the ridge crest, I was staring at the skyline of the famous Bugaboo Mountains. I had never been up close to such an amazing mountain view before and all I could think was, ‘I love this’.”

John overcomes fear with support from classmates

“I was feeling a little nervous. It was 2:00 pm on day three of our four-day backpacking trip and I was staring at the route ahead. We had done our route planning, I knew what to expect and thought I was prepared, but looking at what was ahead, I began to have doubts. What lay before us was a narrow ridge, with a drop off on either side, that we needed to cross. I felt butterflies in my stomach as I watched other group members happily make their way across the ridge, embracing the adventure, enjoying the exposure, and taking photos. I should have found this reassuring but all I could focus on was that drop. I sat down and said, ‘I can’t do this. I won’t do this’. But my classmates all rallied around me, reassuring me that I could do it. ‘Focus. Take it slow. If you look closely, you’ll see there is plenty of space. You haven’t fallen once on this trip, there is nothing here that will make you fall. Just take your time.’ With our instructor right behind me, I slowly and carefully walked across the narrow ridge. My heart was in my mouth, and I was scared, but before I knew it, it was over. I had done it! I wasn’t sure I was in a hurry to do it again but at the moment I felt stoked about my achievement.”

Paul’s whale tale solidifies his future

“I had never been sea kayaking before, but I just knew I would love it.  Being outside in nature is my favourite thing and sea kayaking on the wild West Coast was right up my alley. As we paddled around the coast of Vargas Island, we saw a gray whale surface quite close to us. I thought it would be scary to see a whale up close while in a kayak, but it was anything but. It was amazing. I was mesmerized by its slow graceful movements as it came to the surface to breathe. As we watched the whale swim away unperturbed by our presence, I knew at that moment that I wanted to work as a sea kayak guide for the summer and to share these kinds of experiences with others.”

Barbara navigates choppy waters

“I love canoeing so thought I’d also love sea kayaking. I am strong and I am skilled in a canoe on freshwater lakes. How different could sea kayaking on the ocean be? I quickly found out it was quite different when we were attempting to do a crossing in the fog. Instructors had taught us to take compass bearings from the chart and I was in charge of this crossing. We set out into the fog, with only my compass bearing as a reference. As we crossed, I kept my eyes focused on my compass. As my kayak bobbed around on the rolling swell, I finally saw the shape of an island appear through the fog. I was thrilled. It had worked and we had done what we had set out to do. Now we could take a bit of a break on the shore. I was certainly ready for that break as focusing on my compass while bobbing up and down in the ocean left me feeling seasick. As thrilled as I was at our accomplishment, the trip had taken its toll on me, and I needed to lie down and close my eyes.”

As these alumni stories demonstrate, outdoor adventures can be full of highs as well as lows. Adventure isn’t always easy but in the ATBO program, you’ll have some of the best experiences of your life if you’re ready to work hard for them. A career as an adventure tourism guide is rewarding, fun, and amazing, but it is definitely not easy. Are you up for the challenge?