Expanding Your “Nature Zone”

By: Amy Camp

Increasing your comfort levels in the great outdoors

Life and career coaches, myself included, often work with their clients to recognize and expand their “comfort zones.” Imagine a comfort zone as being a small circle of activities and situations in which you feel safe or comfortable. It’s like a cozy little bubble that can be hard to step beyond. Our comfort zones can be expanded, however, and our lives will be enriched when we challenge ourselves to step out.

Just beyond the comfort zone is another, larger circle – the “learning zone.” And beyond that is the “danger zone.” (And who wants to go there? Perhaps only the adrenaline junkies among us.) Most of the good stuff is in the learning zone – personal growth, challenge, new experiences, and newfound confidence.

 

The Zones

The comfort, learning, and danger zones apply in the outdoors. Let’s think of this as the “Nature Zone.” My own nature zone (i.e., comfort zone) has been expanded over the years. A few examples:

  • A group pre-dawn bike ride in Illinois a few years ago opened my eyes to the thrill of a pitch dark trail ride and also pedaling at near freezing temperatures. I’ve always considered myself to be a fair weather rider, but a group of intrepid cyclists got me out there, and I now know that feeling the rush of the cold and seeing your breath in front of your face while biking is actually a lot of fun!
  • Or take a kayaking trip this summer with longtime Program Director Lora Woodward when she and I were scouting a route for Venture Outdoors. I got to improve my kayaking skills and become comfortable in a traditional kayak, including wearing and removing the spray skirt. I felt such a confidence boost after that trip! As for the concentric circles of the comfort, learning, and danger zones – rolling the kayak would have been in my danger zone. Luckily, we were on a waterway that made that scenario unlikely.
  • Last one (which also involved Lora): despite years of hiking and car camping, I had never backpacked before this summer. That changed with a three-person overnight on the Laurel Highlands Hiking Trail. The experience was incredible for me. I realized by the trip’s end that I had let not owning certain gear keep me from trail overnights, but that the real impediment was one of confidence. I didn’t know whether or not I could carry a 30 pound pack for miles on end. Guess what? I could. And you can, too.Amy Blog

All of these experiences are ones in which I pushed beyond my comfort zone and into a learning zone. I found my own personal “Nature Zone” (a really good place to be) in each outing and have been left with lasting memories and an increasing confidence to get out and push my boundaries.

Try too much all at once and you are likely to land in the danger zone, a place of panic and discomfort. How do you know? If the idea of an activity is completely fear-inducing and there’s no joyful anticipation in thinking about it, it just may be too big of a leap.

Danger Zone

Does this look like the danger zone to you or just another fun day outside?

Venture Outdoors Seems to Specialize in the Learning Zone

One of the things that I most admire about Venture Outdoors is that it creates a space that is ripe for the learning zone. The group setting with experienced guides is exactly what many people need in order to expand the activities with which they are comfortable. No doubt, there are hundreds of testimonials that support this and past trip participants whose personal comfort zones have expanded. That’s the thing about the comfort zone. It keeps expanding! For some reason, I picture the Grinch’s heart growing three times its size when I think about the comfort zone getting bigger and bigger. So, how will you expand your comfort zone—and your “nature zone”—this coming year?

 

Amy Camp is a Venture Outdoors Trip Leader and owns Cycle Forward, a nature-based coaching and consulting practice. Her private coaching sessions focus on professional growth and fulfillment, with sessions held outside on trails.

Posted in News

OUTDOOR News

  • Restorative Practices in an Outdoor Setting

    April 24, 2018

    By: Beth Zabiegalski   

    As an organization, Venture Outdoors does some really awesome and exciting things with local youth in after-school and summer programs, getting them outside for the first time or teaching them something new to do in nature. Most of our outings are a couple hours or less, but when we build meaningful relationships with our students, we create formative outdoor experiences with memories that last more than just that afternoon. 

    Last month, I had the opportunity to attend a two-day Restorative Practices Training through Venture Outdoors’ partnership with Pittsburgh Public Schools. I’ll admit I had next to no idea what to expect,

     » Read more about: Restorative Practices in an Outdoor Setting  »

  • Spring Inside

    April 17, 2018

    A Day a Phipps 
    By: Sara Cardamone 

    Now that Spring is finally here, so is the rain! In Pittsburgh, sometimes it can be hard to find ways to be in nature when it is rainy and muddy. However, there are tons of fun alternatives if you look hard enough! Since I’m a student at Pitt, I pass Phipps Conservatory all the time but I always felt like I never had enough time to stop in. Fast forward to now, the first big rainy day of Spring was upon us and I was struggling to find a calming activity to take my mind off of school and then it hit me.

     » Read more about: Spring Inside  »

  • My Mirror is the Outdoors

    April 10, 2018

    By Stephanie Capilongo

    “Go Outside… amidst the simple beauty of nature… and know that as long as places like this exist, there will be comfort for every sorrow, whatever the circumstances may be.” -Anne Frank.

    The outdoors, it appears, is complicated. But it’s not. It can free your mind and give you a new appreciation for beauty. It brings things and people together, whether it’s your best friend, significant other or your cat. The people you go with mean everything. And no matter who you are or what you do, you can find joy.

     » Read more about: My Mirror is the Outdoors  »

  • When Youth Find their Voices

    April 3, 2018

    By: Lo Hutelmyer, Ryan Singleton and Ty’Shay Thorton

    To an educator, few things are more rewarding than witnessing a student discover his or her own passion. More rewarding still is when they show their first glimpses of leadership by taking charge to teach others about their passion.

    For those of you who may know me, it’s sometimes a challenge for me to stay quiet. But when I had the opportunity to watch Ty’Shay and Ryan present at last month’s conference, I was speechless. Ty’Shay and Ryan, 7th graders from Manchester Academic Charter School, have been participating regularly on Venture Outdoors trips for two years.

     » Read more about: When Youth Find their Voices  »

  • Mount Ararat Community Activity Center takes on GASP!

    March 27, 2018

    By: La’Nell Pennington, Trip Leader SpecialistGASP

    Last October, youth group members at Mount Ararat Community Activity Center in East Liberty participated in an after-school workshop with Pittsburgh’s own Group Against Smog and Pollution. (GASP).

    What is air pollution? We started out by asking the children if they knew what air pollution was. All the kids raised their hands excited to give answers. After a short hike to the Larimer Community Garden, we took turns giving examples of different types of air pollution and where it comes from. The children identified pollution sources such as cars,

     » Read more about: Mount Ararat Community Activity Center takes on GASP!  »

Kayak Pittsburgh

Sunset Paddle

Thank you for another great season!
We’ll see you on the water in 2018!

#KeepPittsburghPaddling


Featured Outing

Geocaching - CD

Cultural District Geocaching
Thursday, April 26
6:30 – 8:30 PM

Join us for a fun intro to the world of geocaching in the Cultural District. We will learn the basics of using a GPS (Global Positioning System) device to navigate between waypoints throughout downtown.

SIGN UP HERE!