Jared’s Reflection

I have been a member of the Adventure Specialties whānau since starting there as an Instructor in 2001. For over a third of my life (15 years) Adventure Specialties Trust has been my full-time vocation. It has been an epic journey filled with amazing memories, adventures, growth and people. To say it’s a foundational part of who I am is a bit of an understatement. Adspecs has shaped and formed me in ways I never expected, whether it been by the example of leaders like Lyndsay, Tim, Mark and Amy or the stories of the people we get to serve – both the heart-breaking and the wonderous ones. The places I have got to visit, seeing creation putting on a show and reflecting something of who the Creator is. Or simply the privilege of “doing life” with the amazing people I have got to call peers and whānau over this time. All these things have shaped my beliefs, my values and my passions.

Adspecs has also given me opportunities to develop in my skills and knowledge in areas as diverse as technical outdoor instruction, facilitation of groups and one-on-one conversations, Māori tikanga and executive professional skills. I have often reflected with staff that the learning curve here at Adspecs is more like climbing a vertical cliff than a gentle incline, in saying that someone will always have you “on belay” and others will be there to give you a leg up, helping hand or even a shoulder to cry on. If you are a person that likes to grow and want to work in the outdoors/social development, I can’t think or a place I could recommend higher.

There are a lot of memories, connection and friendships I will be taking away with me. Staff adventures feature highly (both the work trips and impromptu excursions). Some of the stand outs are: ski-touring in the Southern Alps with Mark and Lynds, kayaking missions with Ducky, Amy and Claire, a staff adventure in back blocks of Raetihi, building a 12ft high Snowman in Ohakune when all the roads were shut from Whanganui–Taihape in the South to Turangi–Tamarunui in the North, canyon and climbing training where my boy William got to join in, Christmas holidays with the Wills whānau, thrashing Tim in every ski race he ever attempted and staying Pāhāōa Marae for staff retreat.

I will also remember many of the times spent and conversations shared with participants and peers on our programmes. These times shared were often more; honest, vulnerable and challenging than normal life allows us, where the principle of ako is constantly at play.

One memory that still makes me smile but in reflection has had a significant impact on my time here is from the first time I got to work with Lyndsay. I was a little nervous because although I had worked about 18 months at the trust, Lynds and my paths had not cross much. This was my chance to work with the “big boss”, founder and leader of an amazing Christian Ministry and outdoor guru. It was a mountain programme and we had just finished loading a week’s worth of food for 40 people 500 metres across rocky/snowy slopes to a hut high on Mount Ruapehu. We were tackling dinner prep and Lyndsay opened the fridge at the exact moment when an extremely overloaded shelf gave way, taking out three more shelves and spilling a week’s worth of yogurt, milk and a freshly made ambrosia onto the floor. Well as you can imagine Lyndsay lost it in the way only he could, which for me portrays one of the things I loved most about Lynds – and that was his humanity. He was hilarious, philosophical, had a deep love for God, creation, adventure, people and wore his heart on his sleeve, which are all things I admired but it is his humanity that had the greatest impact on me. It gave me the space and grace to be real, to be perfectly imperfect. And from that place gain the courage to try and follow in his footsteps, to love people in their messiness and to serve God through the work we do here.

So why leave when I have the privilege of working with people I love, at a place I love, doing what I love? Good question and one with a couple of answers.

Firstly, next year Christina and I will be taking a year off to travel NZ with my family. It’s been a dream to do something like this for a while and we felt this was the last chance we might have before the kids get too old and don’t want to know us. It’s going to be an exciting adventure (definition – outcome unknown) and I’m looking forward to having the chance to share some of the adventures I have had with other people’s kids with my own family. On that note, if you have a place to park a caravan for a day, week/month, we are super keen to connect with our wider Adspecs family as we travel around the place.

Secondly, Adspecs is in a great place and I believe on the cusp of even bigger things. We have amazing leadership, support staff and instructors. We have great systems and procedures in place and a bunch of exciting new ventures and opportunities on the horizon. It has been so exciting to be a part of the growth we have experienced especially over the last five years, but I also believe that creating space for fresh ideas and skill sets will help Adspecs go to the next level.

Who knows I may yet be back (and as Tim says “you never really leave Adspecs”), I certainly won’t be standing still and have plans for study and personal development over the next year as we travel. So, this is not so much a farewell as, hey when I’m in your hood let’s grab a coffee and go for an adventure together. See you ALL in the very near future.

Aroha nui e te whanau, Jared

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