The practice of young people going off on a trek to find themselves is ancient. Recently, though, we’ve found ways to integrate walking treks into the Core Gift Process framework.
In my educational counseling practice, I became aware that some of the individuals I worked with needed something extra: a catalyst that would lead to a life-changing revelation and move them to a new place in life. We felt that treks could provide this catalyst.
We believe the journey going on within the participants is as important as the journey going on around them. We employ the Core Gift Process, developed by Bruce Anderson. In a nutshell, the core gift process holds that each of us has the motivation and the means to contribute to the world through our own skills and gifts. Gifts consist of wisdom, passage, and talent. Navigating a hard period in one’s life creates the “core gift” for each person.
On our treks, trained guides assist hikers in this process through a structured self-assessment discussions and exercises. The process requires the hikers to draw from themselves and each other. By the end of the trek, they should understand their core gifts and be motivated to go out into the world and use them. In our March 2013 trek, we were fortunate enough to have Bruce Anderson accompany us and lead participants himself.
According to Anderson, people have several personality components. One is each person’s strengths, things a person is naturally good at, but many people may not enjoy their strengths and not use them. People also have skills, which they neither like nor dislike, but are simply things they learn to do out of necessity. Another part is a person’s talents, which involve an enjoyable activity, but each person must work to develop talent.
Finally, people have gifts, which are what most motivates them as to what they want to do, even if they don’t recognize what it is. Gifts may draw on some combination of strengths, skills, and talents, but another important aspect to a gift is that it extends beyond the person and into the community. Gifts may be born out of struggles in our lives but gifts are neither mysterious nor deep inside us, according to Anderson. They’re usually on the surface, waiting to be recognized, although others might see and understand them.
Core Gift has been applied in many different settings, but we have seen good results using it in treks. The unfamiliar setting and exhaustion of the trek help break down barriers, allowing participants to more readily assess their lives and consider themselves. With guidance, participants actively help each other in exploring their potential and finding their core gift.
“It just felt good to get out there and do something that was challenging that I could manage,” said one participant from the August 2012 trek. “What you bring to the group becomes clear in a couple of days and the accomplishment and interaction with other people helps you understand yourself better.”
During the treks, guides lead participants through an interview process to discover their Core Gift. The participants are expected to work with each other on the discovery and development of the gift, whether they’re walking, having a meal, or sitting around a campfire.
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