As the school year winds down for the semester, it always seems that the work picks up. It is at this time when I start to consider the importance of going to class, reading the endless chapters, and writing the endless papers. I agree that they have value, but how can I use that last Shakespeare paper in my real life? I think one of the greatest parts about being in college has been the realization that I learn by doing. Here is where the first word I gave you in my first blog post (Adventure Awaits) comes back into play. Experiential.
Photo Credit: Keala ShultzRyann and Danielle preparing stuffed
Experiential means experiencing, I mean the word experience is right there. As I foresee myself spending more and more time within the studious walls of the Law Library and putting on my ‘thinking cap’, I am flooded with thoughts of how much more I learn when I am actually outside of the walls of a classroom. Instead of doodling on my Biology notes and fading in and out of focus as I stare at the never ending power points, my mind flips back to just a few weeks ago at a guide training where we had a giant Dutch oven cook off.
For those of you who do not know, Dutch ovens are big cast iron pots that we fill with delicious foods that you would never guess could be made on an outdoor adventure. You heat up coals and evenly place them beneath and on top of the pot so the heat evenly circulates. Menu items for this training were enchiladas, stuffed peppers, calzones, monkey bread, peach and apple cobbler, and a new experiment -smackos (tortillas, chocolate, and marshmallows).
Photo Credit: Keala ShultzStep 1: heating up the coals
While you may be wondering how this even relates to school or learning, in fact for me it has a ton to do with it. Food on outdoor trips is a big deal. There are a lot of factors that go into making an outdoor meal, especially if you want to eat well like we do here at ELAC. There is menu prep, shopping, checking for allergies, and of course procedure for actually cooking the food. More importantly, like I explained above, Dutch oven cooking is complex and it takes patience. It also involves flexibility in dealing with the different environmental conditions on each trip. I won’t tell you all the details of my Dutch oven failures in the past but let’s just say my chocolate chip cookies never quite passed the test all three times I tried before I decided to retire. That being said, most of us guides had no idea about all that goes into a meal or even how to prepare it. I have been a guide for almost two years now and this cooking training was the first time I actually took the time to be taught how to make a meal from start to finish. Here was learning by doing first hand.
Photo Credit: Keala ShultzMonkey Bread!
What was special about this training was that the guides and I each got to partner with a guide in development to go through the steps of a certain meal or dessert and help them to understand the process. By doing this and teaching at the same time, I actually learned new things myself and got more experience in a teaching role. While knowing when to rotate a cobbler or when the calzone is perfectly cooked will not help me on my finals, what I can say is that applying the things you learn and going out and testing what you are taught is where true learning happens. So my advice is once you have sharpened your last pencil and flipped your last flash card for this semester, get outside challenge all these lessons and theories you have studied this whole year!