Opportunities Bags

Alzar School | 13.10.13

Imagine you finish a long hike out of the Andes mountains in Chile, only to find your group’s vehicle sunk into the sand at the trailhead.  The vehicle is axle deep and not coming out on its own.  The leader of the day takes off to find a team of oxen (the Cordillera’s version of a tow-truck), leaving you and the group with at least an hour of waiting.

This kind of situation can often result in tempers flaring and group morale taking a dive.  Food stress, dehydration, boredom… How a leader responds in these types of situations makes all the difference.  This is an opportunity for a leader to demonstrate “Resiliency and Resourcefulness” and “Inspiring Vision.”

Alzar School students are taught about “Opportunities Bags.”  These bags are something they carry with them just about everywhere they go during their semester at the Alzar School… whether they are on trail, completing a river expedition, traveling internationally, studying in our school building, or making a trip into town.  When something goes wrong or there is free time, the contents of their bags help them turn those moments into opportunities for productive study sessions, fun game time, or the chance to repair clothes and equipment.

Some of the items that are often found in students’ bags:

  • Personal hygiene items (toothbrush, nail clippers, floss, etc)
  • Books/reading material
  • Personal electronics (our students use iPads, and often have cell phones for non-wilderness use of the bags)
  • Snacks
  • Water bottles
  • Carabiners, p-cord, duct tape
  • Multi-tools and/or pocketknives
  • Sunscreen
  • Emergent medications (inhalers, epipens, etc)
  • Games (cards, hacky sacks, etc)

What’s in your bag?