Adventure education alum Laura Dahl '11 uses her passion for “adventure” and “education” to influence other people’s lives
Does playing in scenic slot canyons, climbing rock faces and biking desert single-track sound like a dream job to you? That is the daily work of Laura Dahl '11, a lead guide and shop manager at Zion Adventure, a business providing adventure outfitting and guide services in southwest Utah. From Pennsylvania to Utah, Dahl has proved that anyone can conquer the world with a strong passion and determination for adventure.
Interested in education and the outdoors, Dahl came to Messiah College as an adventure education major. When she began taking adventure education classes in her sophomore year, she found the field altered her life path.
“At Messiah College, and in the adventure education major, I experienced a high degree of intentional, community-based living,” said Dahl. “I was encouraged by my peers to challenge myself, to challenge others to live well, and to pursue truth in all things. This is something that I continue to pursue in my personal and professional journey.”
Dahl says a degree in adventure education is helpful in allowing her to gain real world experience through experiential education. Opportunities such as leading spring break wilderness trips, spending time in the backcountry, acquiring nationally recognized certifications, and interning for local adventure programs strengthened her character, skills and abilities as a guide.
Although adventure education is such an exciting field, it is also a challenging area that it may not be for everyone. To Dahl, there are certain qualities that a person needs in pursuing this field.
“The adventure education major compels its students to strip themselves of ego and to become a leader,” said Dahl. “Humility, a strong work ethic, silliness, creativity and a desire to intimately experience nature and humanity are required daily for success in this field.”
The best thing about the adventure field is that it allows people to do things beyond traveling and experiencing. In the case of Dahl, her job has helped her make an impact on other people’s lives.
“Working in the adventure industry allows me to connect intimately with people in vulnerable moments as they experience uncertainty, wonderment, challenge, fear and joy,” said Dahl. “As a part of my career I am privileged to help shape these moments. I am able to create the opportunity for people to experience empowering moments.”
With her experience, Dahl advises students who consider a major in adventure education to “get out into the community and accumulate experience.” More importantly, they should figure out ways that they can use adventure and education to benefit the lives other people, as adventure is not only about traveling to different places.
“It is more than seeking out the hardest climb or the longest rappel,” said Dahl. “My experience in the adventure education major at Messiah College taught me to see adventure as a tool. Adventure can be used as means to connect with fellow humans to learn, explore, and share new experiences together.”