UNL’s Outdoor Adventures course reveals student’s character

UNL Challenge Course

UNL Challenge Course

By Chris Casper, NewsNetNebraska

Hours spent overcoming harsh obstacles, meeting rough physical challenges, and participating in team-building exercises, all completed on grueling weekends in the occasional rain and snow were just normal days in class for members of UNL’s Outdoor Adventures Challenge Course.

As the spring semester comes to a close, the surprise for some of these students is how the real lessons learned from the class were not about outdoor training exercises, but what they discovered about their personal strengths.

Lindsay Priefert, a 28-year-old Lincoln native and a graduate student in Public Administration, said learned as much about herself as she did about the outdoors.

“It taught me that I’m not just an outdoor enthusiast,” Priefert said. “I’m someone who can gain new skills quickly and communicate the lessons to the group.”

Priefert hadn’t taken anything like this before, but her interest in leading groups on challenge courses like the one offered at UNL brought her to the Outdoor Adventures Challenge Course. Now Priefert would like to work for Outdoor Adventures and lead people on trips that can help them realize their full potential.

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Priefert on the Giant Swing.

The training has furthered Priefert’s intent to live a simple, empathetic life while helping others understand their unique strengths and potential for contribution to the world around them. She would like to share what she has learned to help others rid themselves of negatives in their lives.

“Hopefully what I take from this experience will help me enhance their … satisfaction in life,” Priefert said. “And, perhaps, reduce the amount of suffering we experience.

“I’m very excited to work for Outdoor Adventures and participate in more training like this.”

Scottsbluff native Cameron Bruegger, a 20-year-old sophomore majoring in Broadcast Journalism and Film Studies, also took the Outdoor Adventures Challenge Course to become a challenge course leader.

Bruegger said the course helped him learn a lot about the exercises and team building that goes into running the challenge course. His dream job, Bruegger said, would be to combine his journalism and film studies with his experience on the course as an outdoor/adventure videographer.

Like Priefert, Bruegger discovered hidden resources during his time on the course.

“I can work well with a team when I’m pushed to do so,” Bruegger said.

Additional training courses, including the May Outdoor Leadership Seminar, are in Bruegger’s future. The Outdoor Adventures Challenge Course experience aligns well with his simple and positive view of life, he said.

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Bruegger on the Double Tree Diamond.

“Enjoy the world as much as possible, you only get to be here once,” Bruegger said.

Scott Speicher, a 22-year-old senior environmental engineering major from Fremont, took the Outdoor Adventures Challenge Course to further his job opportunities at UNL Outdoor Adventures. And, he joked, who can resist “…the adventurous nature of swinging from high up objects,” Speicher said.

The course taught him how to identify group dynamics while working with people. Speicher walked away from this class knowing that he has to pick up on certain social cues and reactions to better understand how individual people may be feeling at the time. He also said that taking the course gave him a better perspective on how people interact with each other by showing him how to see situations through the lens of group development.

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Speicher attempting the Alpine Tower

“If I have the opportunity to take other course, I most certainly will,” Speicher said.

Speicher’s dream job would be in a touring band or in a job that allows him to use a talent strengthened through working with his team in the course: helping people.

“I just believe that I am really good at helping people,” Speicher said. “Everyone deserves help now or later in life.”

Stephanie Suehr, a 21-year-old junior majoring in fisheries and wildlife from Blair, found that her positive experience taking the Outdoor Adventures Challenge Course strengthened her already upbeat personal philosophy about life.

“I want to spend my life as happy as possible, so I don’t waste time being unhappy,” Suehr said.

After taking a canoeing class through the Outdoor Adventures program, Suehr found she enjoyed the experience so much she wanted to take more courses. She intends to return to Outdoor Adventures to get her certification.

“Getting certified would further my career and keep me outside,” Suehr said.

Suehr said that the Outdoor Adventures Challenge Course taught her how she can teach and challenge herself and others— both on and off the course. The experience taught her that she has a lot to offer a group, and that by undermining her abilities she only limits herself from reaching her full potential.

Suehr doing the giant swing by choice

For Suehr reaching her full potential means becoming a wildlife biologist, and this course and other Outdoor Adventures programs will assist her in realizing her goal.

For most of the students who take the Outdoor Adventures Challenge Course the opportunity to challenge them selves physically is what draws them to the program. For many of the students who have taken the course what they learn about themselves mentally and spiritually are the most valuable lessons, and what brings them back.

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