Sold On An Outdoor Leadership Program
Anyone who has ever been temporarily lost in the woods -- or would like to avoid the experience -- will find courses of interest in the Nova Scotia Outdoor Leadership Program (NSOLD).
The program, which is operated by the Office of Health Promotion, is designed for volunteers and professionals 17 years of age and older who are interested in becoming outdoor leaders, or upgrading their outdoor leadership skills.
"Anyone can enjoy these courses," says Steve Cooke, who has been involved in NSOLD as a participant and as a leader since the program began in 1979. "There is lots to do, and lots to learn."
Using several different approaches in several different courses, NSOLD's goal is to enhance the quality and quantity of Nova Scotia's outdoor leaders, enhancing physical skill and fitness. That is a great idea, considering Nova Scotia has the second highest rate of obesity in Canada. Recent reports also show that more than half of Nova Scotians are not active enough to enjoy health benefits. Giving participants knowledge and training of how to be safe and active outdoors, can lead to safe, healthy, and more environmentally friendly, experiences.
The program is of interest to individuals seeking personal development as well as groups from schools, universities, volunteer organizations, government departments and private sector organizations.
"As long as you are interested, you can learn from these modules," says Jody Conrad, co-chair of the NSOLD working committee. "The individual courses were created considering what outdoor enthusiasts would need to know, in a group situation, to keep everyone safe."
One of the most basic safety skills in the outdoors is the ability to avoid becoming lost. The Wilderness Navigation module combines theory and practice in the use of map, compass, global positioning system (GPS), and other navigational techniques. Participants take part in practical exercises, in- and outdoors, that enable them to accurately and confidently travel through wilderness areas.
The Wilderness Navigation module "can take anyone who doesn't know about navigation," says Mr. Cooke, the module's co- ordinator, "and the result is they can take a tour through the woods and get through and back safely."
With the combination of compass, map, and the GPS, Mr. Cooke says you are prepared for any situation. "To be really safe, you need it all. You never know when your batteries might fail."
He laughingly says one of his favourite parts of the weekend is eating; "The food is incredible, lots of quality and quantity." But he goes on to say that meeting great people and teaching a valuable skill are highlights as well.
Other courses offered under the NSOLD program are Outdoor Survival, Emergency Procedures, Environmental Interpretation, and Leave No Trace Outdoor Ethics. Leadership School and Women's Outdoor Leadership are also offered, as well as special initiatives like Mentoring in the Outdoors and Leadership Resource Service. NSOLD also promotes the Wilderness and Remote First Aid course, offered through the Canadian Red Cross, and Becoming An Outdoors Woman course, offered through the Department of Natural Resources.
Applications are available on the website at www.gov.ns.ca/ohp/srd/nsold . For more information regarding the Wilderness Navigation program, contact Steve Cooke at 902-422-7075. For more information about NSOLD, contact Jody Conrad at the Office of Health Promotion, 902-424-7589.