Aristotle once said,” In all things of nature there is something of the marvelous.” Mountain Adventure Skills Training (MAST) coordinator and instructor, Brian Bell, finds the outdoors both marvelous and humbling.
Brian’s introduction to the MAST program came in 1994 when he tapped into his talents in river rescue, canoe guiding, and whitewater kayaking, to help develop MAST’s whitewater skills course. Now the program’s full-time coordinator, he also teaches navigation, trip planning, backcountry safety, survival skills, basic rock climbing and mountaineering, and avalanche safety.
Growing up with a love of the outdoors, Brian attended Lakehead University in Thunder Bay, Ontario where he completed a double major in Geography and Outdoor Recreation. Soon after, equipped with an education that complemented his passion, he embarked on his teaching career.
“I love that I get to teach a wide variety of skills and topics,” he said. “It keeps me on my toes and ensures I’m up to current standards in our fast-changing industry.”
Though he thoroughly enjoys introducing eager young (and sometimes not so young) adults to the world of adventure tourism, he finds the MAST program provides opportunities to his students that go beyond an appreciation of backcountry exploration.
“There are so many facets to this industry that can spark imaginations, instill a sense of awe in wilderness environments, and help develop confidence and skills,” he said.
It is not only his pupils who end up picking up new skills. Brian says that MAST students are generally a very passionate crew who teach him a lot.
“I’ve learned about vegan outdoor cooking, bike packing all over the world, and survival techniques. I’ve also been introduced to new music from across the globe.”
Brian’s leisure activities don’t differ greatly from his work life. He loves travelling, being in the wilderness with his family, climbing, paddling and mountain biking. When he’s not outdoors, you might find him playing his guitar or building things by hand.
Though Brian anticipates the fall 2020 MAST program will be a little different than those in the past, he doesn’t believe it will be any less exciting.
“There will be new challenges that will keep us engaged,” he said. “Risk management is nothing new in the adventure tourism world. COVID-19 is another risk to manage to ensure we can enjoy our outdoor adventures while remaining safe and healthy.”