Adam Rosenbaum practices the forward stroke on the Clearwater River Monday afternoon as part of a field training portion of TRU’s adventure studies program. (Stephanie Hagenaars photo)

Adam Rosenbaum practices the forward stroke on the Clearwater River Monday afternoon as part of a field training portion of TRU’s adventure studies program. (Stephanie Hagenaars photo)

TRU adventure students optimistic about tourism future in B.C.

The adventure studies program has been practicing on the Clearwater River for almost three decades.

An adventure program is training the next generation of extreme sports guides in the tourism hub of the North Thompson Valley.

The Thompson River University program has been coming to Clearwater for close to 28 years, said instructor and department co-chair Sharman Learie. He has taught the program for 19 years and is also a graduate of the program.

“In some ways for our kayaking program, it’s a bit of a second home,” Learie said.

The kayak group will spend a few weeks in the area before heading back to Kamloops to continue their studies. Considering the program is focused on outdoor and extreme sports, the COVID-19 pandemic has been a challenge, said Learie, but they’ve been able to manage it quite well.

In the past, the group would be more active in the community, shopping at local stores and attending events, but due to the restrictions, they’ve been camping out behind the old bible camp, one person to a tent, and been cooking their food, keeping themselves.

TRU also has very extensive restrictions and protocols when it comes to academic gatherings, such as classroom work. While these are good measures to have, Learie said it’s also up to the students to “buy in.”

“Those protocols are only when the students are with us,” he said, noting the students go home when in Kamloops and have lives outside of school. “We really try to convince them to buy in to following the provincial health directives and following them to a tee or even to a higher standard when they’re on their own time, and I think we’ve had great buy-in from the students.”

He added they’re optimistic they’ll be able to continue the field programming, despite the recent case trend, if everybody’s taking their personal and social responsibilities seriously.

Even with the newest restrictions and the on-going pandemic, the adventure studies students are optimistic the tourism industry will bounce back, and in a big way.

A few of the students have confirmed they have positions with extreme sporting companies over the summer. Samuel Beavers, who is originally from Calgary, has a rafting position in the summer and believes the tourism industry has a bright future.

“We had a great discussion in one of our classes…about people realizing the benefit of being outside, there’s not a lot to do during the pandemic,” he said. “Alberta for sure saw a lot of people heading out that previously wouldn’t have and they’re going out quite often…people see the value of getting outside, taking risks and just experiencing this.”

One thing he’s learned from the program is resilience, said Beavers, and pushing your risk tolerance levels to do things you never thought capable — something Learie said helps with everyday life, as well.

“Everything we do in the adventure studies program is try to co-manage the risk that is associated with adventure sports,” he said. “The way of thinking about risks transfers easily over to try to manage the risks of a global pandemic, so there’s often crossover teaching moments between the two.”

Classmate Adam Rosenbaum joined the adventure studies program after spending four years in the tech sector, stressed out and not enjoying the lifestyle. He’s originally from Toronto and hopes to one day open a sea kayaking business on Vancouver Island.

Rosenbaum also echoed Beavers’ comments, adding the guiding company he’ll be working for this summer is projecting a busier than usual season.

“It’s definitely been complicated but I’m optimistic,” he told The Times. “I think the demand for adventure tourism specifically is really high right now, and when international tourism comes back it’ll just be even greater.”

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