Friday, September 2, 2016

Chilcotin Holidays

Dear readers

My name is Sam, I am a 28 year old young Belgian, who lives in Leuven and works in Brussels. At university I studied economics because I am interested in how the world works, how people interact and how we can organise societies in the best possible way. The past 4 years, I have been working for BNP Paribas, one of the largest financial institutions in the world. I started as international management trainee, which gave me the opportunity to work in New York City, and currently, I am a Risk Officer, responsible for the assessment of the credit risk of the retail portfolio. In my free time, I follow French courses, play baseball at the Leuven Twins, like to read and hang out with friends. Finally, because I care about the environment, I am an EcoCoach at BNP Paribas and I like to volunteer in conservation projects. In 2012, I volunteered at the American Conservation Experience and recently, I spent a couple of weeks with the Wilderness Stewardship Foundation (WSF) in British Columbia, Canada.

The 4 weeks with WSF were truly amazing! I went mountain biking, hiking, fishing, wildlife viewing, did archery, went on horse rides (even bareback), played cards with other staff members, went to a Pow Wow in Pemberton and much more. Next to having had the opportunity to participate in all these recreational opportunities, I also was able to follow trainings, learn new skills and self-develop. Amongst others, I learnt to use an axe and chop wood; learnt about bushcraft, learnt how to ride a horse (with and without a saddle), learnt riding downhill with a mountain bike, learnt about conservationism in the South Chilcotin mountains, did research for the Stewardship Management plans, gave a map orientation, checked a car’s oil, removed burdock, learnt how to fish, watched horse shoeing, learnt about bear safety, and so on and so on. It is really unbelievable how much I have learnt and all the skills I gained on those 4 weeks. And all this in an amazing environment: the South Chilcotin mountains in British Columbia, Canada. I have been at some amazing places: from the bottom of the Grand Canyon to the tops of Yosemite Valley, from a rooftop bar in Manhattan to the desert in Egypt, but in all honesty, I have to say that the South Chilcotin area is one of the most beautiful places I have ever been. It has everything. No really, I mean e-ve-ry-thing: alpine meadows, snowed in mountain tops, lakes, creeks, rivers, bush, wilderness, bears, wolves, deer, ospreys, the list is endless. This environment had an immense impact on me. It made me more humble than before and even more motivated to keep doing my part in making sure that we as people, as societies work and live in a sustainable manner.

Next to all the hard skills I have learnt, living and work for WSF at the ranch gave me a chance to sharpen and develop my soft skills. For example, I worked in an all-girl/woman’s office. More specific, I worked with Melanie, Ana├»s, Lizzy, Fabienne and Domenica. Even our manager was a woman: Alison. It was sometimes challenging (Men are from Mars, women from Venus you know), but fantastic. I really learnt how to look at stuff from a different (i.e. a woman’s) perspective. I really believe this will help me in my future career. I also think that I have grown on an emotional level: crossing a snowed in mountain top with a bike on my back following Grizzly bear tracks for directions, hungry, exhausted and cold really tested my limits. No, I went beyond my limits. Looking back, I am sure I came out stronger and that today I am able to face challenges which I was not able to face before I went to Canada. Again, I could go on and on about what I have learnt and how I have grown, but I might lose focus or even worse, your interest. But I do have to share with you the most important lesson that I have learnt and that I started applying at my professional and my day-to-day life, that is, and I am quoting Kevan: “Cowboy up, stop whining and do it”. I think it speaks for itself, but it basically boils down to this (for me at least): life isn’t always fair and it is difficult sometimes, but if you want to achieve something, look at positive aspects, don’t complain and get up and do your best. Life’s too short to be feeling sorry for yourself.

So now I am back in Belgium and the question is: what to do next? Well, I will continue working both my jobs like before, but with a different attitude (Cowboy up …). I bought a bike 5 days after I returned from Canada (inspiration thanks to my personal mountain bike guide at the ranch Adam), so, I started biking. Furthermore, I decided to take action and move ahead with my life: I registered for another year of French course (although I didn’t feel like it before I left for Canada), I started drinking tea and I will apply for a new and more challenging position within BNP Paribas beginning of next year. In 2017, I will do some more volunteering: I looking into going to New Zealand, Australia or Fiji (this will depend on which projects will be available). And then there is one more thing. A week after I got back from Canada, I received a mail that I was selected to go to the One Young World Summit in Ottawa, end of September 2016 as an BNP Paribas Ambassador. One Young World gathers together young leaders from around the world, empowering them to make lasting connections to create positive change. The goal of the summit is to debate, formulate and share innovative solutions for the pressing issues the world faces. This year’s topics are education, environment, global business, peace and security, health and human rights. I am convinced that my experience at WSF will help me with this assignment.

I had a wonderful time at WSF and the ranch, I learnt a lot, made memories that will last a lifetime and for that, I am forever grateful.

All the best and cowboy up,
A humble and happy Belgian

Chilcotin Holidays

About Chilcotin Holidays

We are a licensed guide outfitter and we conduct guided wilderness adventures throughout our 5,000 square km operating area. This guide area has been operational since 1880, making it the oldest in British Columbia. More about us HERE.

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