So you’re signed up for an Intercept expedition. Now what? Discover how going on an Intercept course can be a lot like participating in a real life video game.
You set out into the unknown, exploring your new world. You can only see a little bit of it at a time, so you’re trying to make sense of what’s there and how it all relates to the other pieces. You’re not quite sure what the purpose is or what the threats are, so you’re cautious, on edge, waiting for something to happen. In many ways, starting an Intercept course is kind of like starting a new video game.
You’re the main character and you’ve landed in a new setting where you have to learn the rules of the game, assess who’s on your side and figure out the purpose.
Setting off on a New Adventure
No spoilers here in terms of what the purpose is, but one thing you’re sure to figure out quickly is that this quest is going to be an adventure. The terrain changes every day, and new days bring new obstacles to overcome. Once you’ve mastered a particular move, like flipping a canoe onto your shoulders to carry it to the next lake, the next day it’s raining, and you have to learn how to do it in rain gear and on slippery rocks. There are unexpected surprises that keep you on your toes, like a bear that steals food from the campsite next to yours or a waterfall that wasn’t on the map.
When you’ve been playing for a little while and are starting to settle into the rhythm of it, suddenly you level up. Now there are more decisions to be made between you and the other players. Your team might decide to pass up a small campsite and push on toward a better one, only to find it occupied. Now you have to decide whether to back-track to the small site and repeat those miles in the morning or gamble on whether or not the next campsite is open. Sometimes your Instructors can give you a hint as they’ve played this game many times before, but sometimes you are all figuring it out together.
Using Teamwork to Your Advantage
You and your teammates don’t know each other very well to start out with, but you’re all working toward a common purpose. Sometimes you’re chatting and find things you disagree about, or they do things differently than what you think is best. You’ll have to decide which problems to address and which to let go of, but either way, there’s no quitting.
Consequence and Reward
When you make a mistake, there’s an immediate consequence. You got distracted while cooking breakfast, and now it’s burnt. You didn’t refill your water bottle at the last stream, and now there is no stream and you’re thirsty. Rewards are also immediate. You took the extra time to pack your bag carefully in case of rain, and now your gear is dry. You picked blueberries on the side of the trail, and now you get to eat them. In the real world sometimes people who make mistakes get rewarded, which can be confusing and frustrating. In this world, things are simpler.
Overcoming the Biggest Challenge
The biggest obstacle to your success in this game is not the weather or the bears or the other players, but yourself. Do you spend too much time looking for threats and waiting for something to jump out at you, that you miss the point of the game? Do you get distracted by collecting a bunch of berries to have in case you need them and then run out of time to complete your mission? Do you work against your teammates and refuse to apologize when you make a mistake? It’s a tough game, and you’ll need to be ready to face down challenges unlike any you’ve seen before—but if you’re ready for them, it will be an adventure that could shape the rest of your life.
Are you ready to play?
About the Author
Renee Igo was an Outward Bound student at age 15 and has been instructing wilderness expeditions for the Voyageur Outward Bound School for the past eight years. When not instructing, she holds a variety of other teaching positions and raises sheep in Maine.