“A bad day on the water is better than a good day in the office”.
Are you into adventurous sports like white water rafting, kayaking, hiking, mountain biking and more? Ever searched for a place in Zambia where you could do the above activities and not been successful in finding one? If you answered ‘yes’ to these questions, then this article is for you.
In our Tourism Tuesday series, we feature Mwaba who is an Outdoor Instructor at Ndubaluba Center based at Chengelo International School in Mkushi. We spoke to him about what his exciting and unusual job entails.
As a kid, Mwaba always envied his friends who at a young age always knew the answer to that taunting but inevitable question, “what do you want to be when you grow-up?” “I would look around and see their faces light up as they envisaged their future as a fire-fighter, policeman, doctor or lawyer. The question always seemed to be a mockery to me because I had no idea whatsoever what I wanted to do with my life. This even carried on into my late teens .Now at the age of 24, I reply proudly and tell them that I am an Outdoor Instructor”.
What does your job entail?
Before I attempt to describe what an Instructor is, let me highlight what an instructor isn’t. There are many fields in outdoor education, many of which are erroneously used interchangeably. An Outdoor Education Instructor is not:
1. A game ranger,
2. Tour guide, nor a
3. A P.E teacher
I must say that my job does entails a fusion of many outdoor disciplines which include all the above. However, in outdoor education, more emphasis is placed on the learning achieved through doing the activity than the activity itself. For example, for a white water rafting company on the Zambezi, a rafting tour would be provided solely for the thrill of the activity, for the enjoyment and for the fun. We how ever go beyond that and explore team dynamics, confidence building and personal growth.
In a nut shell, Outdoor education is can be summed up as “the use of the outdoors for educational purposes. OE often involves small groups actively engaged in adventurous activities for personal growth under the guidance of an instructor or leader” – Neill, 2003
Therefore an outdoor Instructor is one who is trained/qualified in certain adventurous activities such as canoeing, kayaking, mountain biking, rock climbing etc (the list is endless) who uses these activities to for the purpose of educating others on trust, personal growth, and leadership.
In addition to my role Instructor role I am a Student Counselor and an Award leader for the International Youth Award.
About The Centre
Ndubaluba founded by Chengelo School in 1994. It provides an Outdoor Education Curriculum for Chengelo School and a range of courses for other Zambian schools, Organizations and Groups from overseas. Subsidised courses are also offered for less privileged groups. The centre aims to provide quality Christian Adventure Education to impact the Nation of Zambia and beyond. Christian Adventure Education can play a key role in the character development of young people and therefore in the positive future development of the country. http://www.chengelo.sch.zm/ndubaluba.php
Why you are in that field,
When I was a student at Chengelo, I jumped at any opportunity to participate in all the activities that Ndubaluba Offered. I was selected as outdoor prefect and participated in the Prestigious Adventure Challenge for Schools (ACS) in South Africa in 2005 and was privileged to be captain of the team in 2006 . I became passionate about working with young people and working in the outdoors, but I had a hard time putting the two together because it’s hard to build a career based on instructing, especially in a country where few people appreciate the role of Outdoor Education in the lives of our youth. After lots of prayer and a short period of volunteering at Ndubaluba it became evident that the Lord wanted me back at Chengelo to work at Ndubaluba to help contribute to the vision of the School and that of the Centre.
Advice for anyone who wants to enter that field?
It’s a tough but enjoyable lifestyle! I once read one of the back another instructor’s shirt that “a bad day on the water is better than a good day in the office” which I believe is true, however there is a big price to pay. Generally speaking, the Outdoor sector doesn’t pay well so if you in it for the money you will be disappointed. Also working days can be long and physically strenuous, and you need to be able to cope and live with and austere living. If you are a person who’s scared to get their hands dirty, or break a nail then instructing may not be your thing. You need to look at it as a way of life and not as a way of making a living. It is more than a job, it is a calling. A calling not to lead, but a calling to serve.
How to Get-instructing?
More and more Universities and Institutions around the world are recognizing Outdoor Education and are offering Education up to Degree level. Pursuing a Degree in Outdoor education or attending trainee programs is the surest way of getting into the sector. Programs as you can imagine there are no Universities in Zambia offering such courses, However Ndubaluba Outdoor Centre is always looking for short term volunteer to help out in the running of the center. This is a rare great opportunity for one to decide if instructing is what they want to peruse as a career!
And what you do in your spare time?
Spare time, what spare time? Lol! Instructing is more than just a Job, it’s a life style. You don’t come to work at nine and knock off at five. Hours are long and strenuous and depending on the weather conditions can be physically and mentally challenging! Camps can take up to a couple of weeks away from home, so much so that nights at home seem like a luxury lol! But when you do what you love for a living who needs spare time? I usually do in my spare time what I do at work, cycling, climbing and kayaking. I am always on the move! Another activity I enjoy doing that’s not on my Job description is watching movies, a good comedy is always therapeutic! Also whenever I have the chance I spend time with family and friends as I don’t have many opportunities to see them.
So there you have it, during the #Insaka on Tourism in Zambia, we mentioned that we’d love to be a part of driving domestic tourism, so we should continue to take part in the fun activities our country has to offer. We’ll definitely be checking out the Ndubaluba outdoor center soon. Will you?