Searching for Role Models

By Tom Holland February 7, 2017

Who are your role models?
Who did you look up to as a child?
If you are a student, who do you look up to now and who do you want to be like?
If you are a parent, who do your children try to emulate?

These are the questions that we ask ourselves at Wilderness Adventures.

The constant media chatter that has become the background noise of our lives has brought to our attention that it’s a brave new world when it comes to the role models in the lives of youth.

It should come as no surprise that those closest to our kids (family members and teachers) are most likely to serve as role models for our children. However, there is a difference today, which throws a curveball into the situation. Namely, that our children are constantly exposed to the voices of celebrities, athletes, and politicians who demonstrate, through their social media personas, a new type of role modeling. While some of these individuals truly project a persona that seeks to be a positive example for a younger generation, many seemingly do not take this into consideration. Moreover, the role modeling of being the loudest in the room or the funniest or the biggest bully, dominates youth culture. For youth, who so desperately look for examples of how to live, these loud voices offer an example that may be entertaining in the short run, but do not offer great examples of how to live in the long run.

For our children and young adults, it is important that we create spaces for our kids to tune out media personalities and offer our kids space to interact with positive and impactful role models. While schools offer a great setting for this, we must further seek to find these places outside the traditional classroom. For 45 years, each of our programs have provided great role models for our students.

We pride ourselves in seeking out the very best role models for our students. This is a personal goal for me as I remember my Wilderness Adventures trip leaders so vividly from my Grand Teton trip. Gates, Dave, Meghan, and Sarah were individuals that I had the highest amount of respect for. They were kind, loving, and friendly. They were stern when they needed to be, and hilarious at other times. They pushed me to be my best self, and left me with a newfound confidence in all that I could accomplish. Most importantly, they modeled, through their actions, how to be a great person.

As a parent, I will look for opportunities to provide great role models for my children. With the noise that is all around us, I think it is important to provide balance for my kids, to tune that noise out, and to engage with people they will look up to. And as the director of Wilderness Adventures, I look forward to finding those great role models for so many kids each year.