For Freshmen. By Freshmen.
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Aug 24 2016
by Katie Sims

8 Outdoor Education Lessons You Can Use in College

By Katie Sims - Aug 24 2016

The lessons of the outdoors are often seen as trivial skills, used only at scout camps and for those rugged enough to leave society for the trail. However, the lessons of the outdoors can be applied to almost any facet of life. The focus on growing strength in every way possible, of solving problems and perseverance are paramount in any arena.

1. The first step to survival is a positive mental attitude.

Katie Sims

Your mind controls everything you do. Without a clear and focused mindset, you won’t be able to approach the problems you’re faced with. Being overwhelmed and confused in a stressful situation is common and natural, but if you can take it in stride you’re one step closer to solving the problem.

It’s cliché, but you can’t complete a task you aren’t willing to give your best shot. Take your positive mental attitude to everything.

2. Make sure you’re safe first.

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“Put on your own oxygen mask before helping others,” - it’s a simple idea. Make sure you’re okay before you start to help everyone. Many people tend to help others before themselves, even if they’re struggling. It’s hard to denounce this caring and compassion but it’s really important that you don’t put others’ needs in front of your own, when it might really hurt you in the long run. Remember: the better off you are, the better you can help others.

3. Hydrate.

Katie Sims

The important of water cannot be overstated. Water keeps you healthy and feeling good, and being properly hydrated can often make the difference between a good day and a bad day. At my summer camp, we always tell our campers to drink water - no matter what the problem is. Crying? Drink water. Headache? Drink water. Sore throat? Stomach ache? Tired? Drink water. We don’t do it because it’s easy or distracting or we don’t know what to do. We do it because it works.

Get a water bottle and drink out of it consistently. Make sure you’re drinking at least twice as much water as you drink sugary or caffeinated beverages.

4. Always have at least one trusted buddy.

Katie Sims

You never know when something is going to go wrong. Whether you’re in deep wilderness or the middle of a city, having someone to help you in an emergency is invaluable. Whether it’s a late night out or finals week in the library, having someone with you makes it a lot easier to get through. Try not to do things alone when you can do them with a buddy.

5. Listen to what your body is telling you.

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You know when you’re in pain, you know when you’re too tired, you know when you’ve given the day your all. You have to know when it’s time to call it a day, whether you’re backpacking or studying. If you’re in pain, treat the pain in whatever way you see fit. See the doctor if you need to, get some rest and treat yourself with respect.

6. Be prepared, but pack light.

Katie Sims

When you're backpacking for a day, go through the whole day and what you might have to do. Do you need to bring an extra textbook to study in your class break? Bring extra pens and your chargers and some spare paper, because you never know when you’ll need some. Remember not to go overboard though - carrying around multiple textbooks or preparing for too many “what ifs" will just leave you more flustered and tired.

7. Know first aid and have plans for emergencies.

Katie Sims

When it’s your first time away from home, it’s also your first time dealing with a lot of problems. Whether it’s the first time you get sick or hurt, or you went overboard at a party, knowing how to fix your health is invaluable. You never know what emergencies you will face, so try to be prepared for the more likely ones.

8. Challenge yourself.

Katie Sims

A lot of wilderness programs are about challenging yourself, pushing yourself to your mental and physical limit. College will do the same, but make sure you’re taking full advantage of that. By pushing yourself to your limit, you will find your strengths and weaknesses, and you will improve where you fail.

There’s a lot of lessons to be learned in the outdoors. Taking the skills you’ve learned at camps or on hiking trips and applying them to your studies and friendships is a great way to build a stronger self. And if the stress of college is getting the best of you, try to take some time outside, find some peace and reevaluate. 

Lead Image Credit: Katie Sims

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Katie Sims - Cornell University

Katie Sims is a freshman at Cornell University, studying Environmental Engineering. They are probably laughing at bad calculus jokes and crying about calculus homework. You can find Katie on Twitter or Instagram @k8esims

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