Sooke’s World Class Outdoor Education Program: West Coast Adventure College
If location is gold then West Coast Adventure College has struck the main vein. Tucked in the breathtaking corner of Cooper’s Cove, Sooke’s very own accredited outdoor college has everything it needs right at its doorstep to adventure. Co-owner and instructor, Scot Taylor also owns Rush Adventures and the Stickleback restaurant, literally has a 3-step commute to work. He has been on the local scene for over a decade, partnered up with Phil Foster, building up a momentum and cohesiveness to their adventure college which has ripened into what it is today: a Mecca for outdoor enthusiasts looking to explore a career in nature tourism.
The highly sought-after spots at the college are capped at a slim twenty-one students, which is split in half or thirds for a more intimate instructor-to-student ratio. An emphasis on lower student limit is Scott’s insistence of quality over quantity. Since it’s eleven-year inception, with nine accredited years, the college’s highly professional instructors and program provide a wide ecology of opportunities. From kayak guiding, to dog-sledding, whale watching and zip-lining, the college has had a vast array of successful students that have been hired around the globe.
Over an eight month period, six main courses and over 750 hours of learning, students are immersed in the wild and in a beautiful classroom setting.
Perilous situations that would make the hair stand on the back of anyone’s neck are a part of the training. Without going into any of the details (they are kept a secret) emergency preparedness is a part of the training because the reality of any outdoor adventure college jives with the scout’s motto: “Be prepared”: in mind, body and spirit. “Safety is paramount”, says Taylor.
The vast array of territory covered is enough to make any outdoor enthusiast salivate: sea kayaking, wilderness first aid, environmental stewardship, camping skills, survival skiing, marine emergency, sailing, radio operators and more. Certificates recognized by industry standards assure that students come out of the college ready to enter the workforce in whatever direction their compass points toward.
The outdoor tourism industry pulls in over 14 billion dollars and is expected to double over the next ten years. Students at the college spent over $250 000 off-season, creating a lucrative micro-economy in the surrounding area. Skills are transferable and many students are hired locally through B.C. Ferries, zip-line companies, and some of British Columbia’s biggest resorts.
The college works locally in School Board 61 with a program for grades 11 and 12. He is hoping this will become a Sooke program as well. As a high school student, Taylor’s absenteeism was noted by his school’s vice principal. But he also noted his passion and it was this joy that he felt for the outdoors that kept him afloat and led to his first job as a kayak guide. Working hard and devoutly at his first guide job led Taylor to realize a fundamental truth. “There are no short term thoughts…only long-term vision. I do not believe in ‘luck’ but in the creation of opportunities. You just have to be ready for it and seize it when your hard work and devotion have opened up a juncture.” Taylor’s wish, which he hopes to leave to his children and the town of Sooke, is to be an example of a man of vision creating his own opportunities with hard work and dedication, giving back to the place he is proud to call home.
To find out more about West Coast Adventure College, check out his website at: http://www.westcoastadventurecollege.com