How do we do what we do?  Its easy – its all about our people.  This week it’s Donalds turn to share (in his own words) some of what makes him tick…….

Its Kia ora, my name is Donald and I am a programme coordinator at POET.

I grew up on the Kāpiti Coast in a family that liked to get outside for fun. One of my earliest memories is playing in a clearing on the Mangaone track. It was a clear summer day. There was the yellow brown of long summer grass, the big blue sky with white tufts of cloud over the top of the Tararua Range, the bush green mat of trees surrounding us on three sides. Along the far edge of the clearing was a bubbling tributary to the Waikanae river.

I remember the simple joy of running through the grass, splashing in the river and exploring our picnic spot. Now this memory sounds idyllic, and I’m sure it wasn’t all so rosy (especially as the walk in isn’t particularly nice taking you up and over a muddy ridgeline on a rarely used logging road). But the enjoyment in this memory has stayed with me. And not only that, but there are other similar memories in my unconscious and they melded together, while more memories joined them. Together, they grew to form my love of the outdoors.

In my career, I have kept my roles close to this love. I didn’t do this on purpose at first. I just looked for a job which I thought would be a lot of fun and that is how I ended up at an American summer camp in New York State. This give me an insight into what it felt like to be paid to do something I enjoyed and since then, I have followed that path. It has opened me up to amazing jobs and the chances to work with fantastic people.

This is the path that brought me to POET. There are so many aspects of working at POET that are attractive, but one that strikes a chord with me is a principle that connects back to how my beliefs were formed. This is the fundamental POET principle of giving learners multiple experiences that build on each other and from which they can draw their own memories and (hopefully) go on to form positive perspectives on being outside. I think that is incredibly valuable.

So as the weather warms up and you wonder what to do with all the extra sunlight hours, I’d recommend going on picnics, walks or excursions with friends and family to our beautiful outdoor places. And don’t go just once, go plenty of times. It is never too late to form your own connections.


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