By David Whittle
In this blog post, GOCO intern David Whittle shares the insights he learned while participating in a team building and leadership retreat with Colorado Outward Bound School (COBS). David joined the GOCO team in May 2023 as an events and marketing intern.
When I started my Great Outdoors Colorado (GOCO) marketing and events internship in April of 2023, I wasn’t exactly sure what to expect. I was both excited and nervous about starting a new position in a new city. I was pleasantly surprised that my nervousness had been for nothing, and I actually fit in quite nicely at GOCO.
I discovered I was passionate about marketing and events while in college. Since then, I've been building up skills to prepare me for a career. GOCO and the communications team are helping in every way they can, including sending me to the Colorado Outward Bound School (COBS) for a recent team building and leadership retreat.
Though excited for the opportunity, I was nervous about the retreat and what was to come. I headed to the COBS campus in Leadville where I met up with three fellows from The Nature Conservancy (TNC) and the two instructors who were waiting for us. I didn't know a soul but was eager to make connections.
The group started out by having lunch and going straight into a conversation about what we wanted to get out of this retreat and what the outdoors meant to us. I reflected that it was to create meaningful connections with others who are navigating the outdoor industry and to get to know myself in a different way.
During our three days there, we engaged in different activities that pushed us out of our comfort zone -- a high ropes course, alone time without distraction for reflection, learning how to belay, and mini-challenges that made us work together as a team. And, of course, there was a campfire in the evening with time to talk about the day over s'mores.
One of my new connections made there, TNC fellow Anna Vera, shared with me: “I gained a lot of insight on myself as a person and team dynamics which gave me a new perspective to who I am and how I can be a better person”.
For me, the COBS program fostered an emotional connection to what it means to be an outdoor steward and helped me learn how I work in a team and my style of leadership. It turns out, I tend to suggest ideas, but let others try their ideas first and then build on top of that through observation and critical thinking. The mini-challenges showed me that going with one, set in stone, way of doing something can be vastly improved when I speak up about what I think will help. It also challenged me to work in an environment where I'm not particularly comfortable and make the best of it.
The COBS experience reassured me that I'm on the right path. I know I want to continue to develop my career in the outdoor industry, whether that’s through a conservation organization or promoting people to get outside through media and events. I also received the validation that it's okay to not be on a set path immediately and to still be figuring out the best way to create a career. By taking this time, I hope I'll be fulfilled by what I eventually choose to do.
I'm still learning and growing in my life and career, and COBS was a crucial part in helping me take a step back from the distractions of the everyday world to be present with finding my passion!