API Summer 2021

Two types of facilitation. I see two possible types of facilitation for both fa- cilitated and guided programs. The first is the basic care and encouragement of participants linked on a shared journey. Even in a short period of time, our rec- reational and experiential groups need conscious facilitation as they stretch in the novel experience we deliver. The second is a longer and deeper process to achieve outcomes for cognitive, emotional, or team growth. This is the basis for most experiential programs, of course, and at times, the result of a less predetermined path.

Guides must demonstrate care and technical competency during gear-up, and help guests build confidence in the equipment.

procedures is expected, of course—but helping them to prepare for the chal- lenge with your support is the founda- tion of a powerful experience. These steps establish your relationship with each person, encourage members of the group to engage, and offer in- sight as to who is in the group. You will hear personal expectations and con- cerns, and you may identify someone who will need more support, coaching, or perhaps much closer supervision. Harnessing. In the rush to keep the tour on schedule, it’s tempting to manually install and adjust each person’s harness for them. However, any touch of a participant’s body should occur only when that person is unable to do an essential task themselves and with their permission. Your need for speed does not override the personal and legal minefield of an unwanted touch. So: With your group in a circle, demon- strate the process, starting with your harness off, and ask them to follow your sequence. When they have done their best and you see a problem, tell them of your concern, tell them exactly what you need to do, and then ask and wait for their permission. You might also have a parent, partner, or friend complete the task, if that is more com- fortable. A facilitated approach respects the body and dignity of each person.

firm that you have their name correct and answer questions patiently.


Both types of facilitation have applica- tion throughout a guest’s visit to our facilities. Here are a few reachable moments in which your participants will benefit from a facilitated approach: Arrival. An arriving participant may be filled with anxiety, thanks to horror sto- ries in the news and YouTube videos of adventures gone wrong. They may feel pressured into joining the adventure by family, friends, co-workers, or a boss. So: Meet each person out front with a relaxed and warm welcome. That first impression is important. Show them from the start that you will provide a high level of care and that your goal is to create a safe outcome for the day. They should see you as approachable and competent. Greet each person to initiate a feeling of acknowledgment and inclusion. Including everyone is key. The first group circle. When all of my participants are gathered, I begin with a two-minute “frenzie.” I have each person exchange names and a welcome with all others, one to one, and I join in myself. The frenzie delivers an initial connection that sets the tone for the day. Opening briefing. I begin with a group welcome and then a “sounding” in which I ask everyone, “What inspired you to join us on an adventure today? Is there a concern that I can address be- fore we start?” They might be surprised to see you connect with each person and learn that you care about who they are and what they might need for the day. Explaining the equipment and

That first step, both figuratively and literally, is a reachable moment that will influence the rest of the day. Your initial patience will help keep the group mov- ing for the rest of the tour. For some guests, a reminder to take a breath, a confirmation of their technical safety, and encouragement that they can take this step, like others in the group have, is a game changer. Your care of each individual in this reachable moment will actually help you to stay on schedule. A physical event. Our courses are chal- lenging by definition, but they shouldn’t defeat our guests. My physical struggle on my first belayed climb filled me with emotion and distracted me from the joy of the adventure. During my struggle, the instructor gently inquired if I would like some support and advice. He started by encouraging me to breathe, find a comfortable stance, to consider my goals, and only then addressed how I might find my next point of leverage. His concern was for the person first, adventure second. In that way, we can guide our visitors past the challenges that confound them. An emotional event. Any struggle on the course will stimulate an emotional response on the part of the individual. While the struggle excites some people, others will quickly become emotional. In such cases, a person’s cognitive ability, focus, and effective action decrease quickly. As the emotion intensifies, so do the downward effects. The ability to respond verbally can be deeply impact- ed as the emotion grows, too. >> continued

(For more on harness donning, see “Easy Donning,” p. 54)

The first launch. For many, the first step is the crux of the entire day. Invite peo- ple to choose their order, and connect with each person as they step up. Con-

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