I am very priviledged to enjoy going to work everyday. I spent half of my time working at managing Killary Adventure and the other half working on the Gaelforce races. Like any job it does have its ups and downs but after 16 years in the industry I cant imagine doing anything else. Here is my story.
I was approx 12 years old it was Christams day and like all other good Irish Catholic familes we were all ignoring eachother and glued to the afternoon movie. Back then the only way to see a decent movie was in the cinema (we did not even have a VCR)and so the Christmas day movie caused unbearable excitement. Despite the interuptions every 10 mins from my Aunty Noreen who could not follow the plot, Raiders of the Lost Ark was beyond amazing and it effected me deeply. Partly I suppose as it ignited my long term love for Harrison Ford (this was long before the earing and the skinny wife ) but also because it created a drama in my head, the thought that no matter what I do life needs to be an adventure. This thought lay dormant for many years but it never went away. I followed the path set out for me, well worn by my olders siblings-good leaving cert, good degree and good solid job.
I did ok on this but one day without hardly realising what I was doing I just slid off the road, crept of to the west and started working as an outdoor instructor earning 70 pounds per week and living in a caravan.
Looking back I think it wasn't just the genius of Speilburg that resulted in this decision. I remember meeting my school friend Oisin Van Gelderen on the Dart most mornings. I was heading into smog filled city centre college to study the statistics of ecomomic deteriotation of the Rhur region in Germany. He was heading to the Malahide estuary learning to waterstart his windsurf part of his outdoor course in Colaiste Dulaigh (if you know who Oisin is he clearly learnt that quite well!)
I knew there was something deeply wrong with this scenario.
Secondly myself and my friend managed to get elected on to the field tip committee for the Geog soc and this resulted in our field trips to study Limestone being to Petersburg Adventure centre and Majorca respectively (and yes there is very important formations of limestone on the North of the island)
After 3 days “studying limestone” in Petersburg adventure centre I could not get over the life that these activity instructers had, the fact that they were actually getting paid for doing something they loved.
So off I went to the west answering a job advertisment for trainee outdoor instructors in Delphi Adventure Centre. My mother was mildly amused to start with but as time went on became seriously unimpressed. Certain aunties started sending me job applications and the words -when, real and job starting floating towards me at increasing speed.
However I was having a blast. I could hardly say I was getting paid but it was enough to get me to the pub and really I didnt care. Sitting in my kayak, watching the gulls fly over the mountains, trailing my hands in the cystal clear waters of the Killary and teaching kids things they really wanted to learn-life could not get better. We would work all day and then head off enmass to the beach in the evenings and surf till the sun would go down. Some evenings we would have the immense priviledge of being joined by a school of Dolphins who seemed to get as much pleasure out of the waves as us.
Each day would bring a new challenge, a new knot, a new wave, a new adventure.
However everything in life has a balance. It was afterall a job and it had its bad moments. I can tell you that when it was bad it was pretty gruesome!
When it rains in Connemamra it really truly rains. No messing about out here, no soft day thank God- it is like it hates you, it wants to abuse you, it stings your face it travels up your waterproof leggings. No space age Gortex is going to save you here. There is nothing quite like 6 hours on top of the abseil tower with 25 miles an hour wind pushing torrents of rain at you until every crevice of your body has been attacked. The children are not impressed either. What was fun and exciting in the sun is starting to feel like double maths as they wait for a go of abseiling down a tower they actually can't see through the curtain of water surrounding them.
I spent close to 5 years as an instructor. It was a wonderful opportunity, one that I will never regret. I would love to be able to share some of the stories of what we go up to over the years but I might be arrested. If you are interested in becoming an instrutor be prepared to be cold, broke and sometimes scared, but I have to say it was probably the best 5 years of my life.
Instructing eventually became less challenging and thankfully I was offered a position on management team in Delphi and continued from there to where I am today.
The best advice I can give you to start on the ladder is to check out some of the excellent outdoor course run by FAS.
Altenativley there are private course available in Ireland. Check out http://www.killaryadventure.com/en/get_qualified/instructor_training_course.html
by Mona Purcell
by Mona Purcell