Some classes are just more special than others. Our most recent Wilderness First Responder course was just one of those classes that stands out in our minds as “one for the record books”. Why it stands out is difficult to express, but I will try to provide a few reasons on what made this a class to remember.
In a class of 15 students normally there are 1 or 2 than stand out for the wrong reasons. You know these people, the whiners, complainers, and Negative Nancies. Maybe they don’t work as hard, they complain, or just generally regretting being there and you can tell in their work ethic and body language. It is rare to have a class where every person gives their best effort in every rotation. I can honestly say that this class never had a hint of laziness or unwillingness to put in the work. They gave 100% in every exercise and scenario and encouraged one another throughout the entire class. They inhaled knowledge during lectures like hungry hippos and craved more. In all areas, these students pushed themselves individually and that attitude poured jet fuel on the learning environment. It was awesome to see such engaged and willing learners.
The rumor around the Randall Farm is that Jeff has some dirt on the weather god’s and can dial up epic weather any time he likes. This class was no exception. We saw sweltering temps accompanied by our traditional southern humidity creating a situation where your clothes just stuck to you day and night. Then there was the rain; large, cold rain drops falling so hard they hurt your skin; our students and instructor cadre often out in it for hours on end doing whatever the situation demanded of them. We never heard a single complaint from students or cadre. Many places teach WFR in a sterile, climate-controlled environment; our students got a full dose of what it means to work in a situation where the environment is not working with you. They know how hard it is to open dressing packages when you’ve got on wet gloves and how quickly the environment can affect patient care and they adapted.
This was one of our most diverse classes ever. We had a total of 5 women, 3 of which were in their 20’s and our oldest men were 59 and 64 years old. As part of the cadre, I often get to sit back and just observe during scenarios; often from the viewfinder of the camera. The students just tend to get used to me being the fly on the wall and it always provides a unique perspective to who they are. It was interesting to see how the class culture took shape and what a genuinely good time they had together despite the generational gap. It is rare to see a class of this size become so tight and have so much fun especially when considering the generational span and mix of back grounds from this group.
Writing this has helped me identify my favorite of this class was….it was the smiles and laughter. It stands out because there was so much of it. We laughed till we cried on more than one occasion and every single person shared laughs, hugs, words of encouragement, and made the best of an otherwise tough class. They embraced the suck and learned to find comfort in uncomfortable situations. If you were fortunate enough to be in this class you should know you shared in a special experience, and we at Randall’s Adventure & Training were grateful to be part of it. Job well done.