Guide School Story: Merle

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Merle picture to go with staff story
Merle on top of the mountain in Eldorado

My name is Merle and I’m a 22 years old student from Germany. Back home, I study English and German to become a primary teacher, and I love to work and be with horses and nature, so that’s why I decided to stay at a Ranch in Canada. I also wanted to explore another English speaking country to gain new cultural experiences, meet new people from all over the world and travel on my own to become a more self-confident and experienced person.
During my stay at Chilcotin Holidays, I took both the wilderness guide school and the advanced guide school to work with horses as much as possible. Next to target shooting, fishing and a bit of Bush craft survival Training, I learned to shoe a horse’s front and back feet and how to pack a horse for a pack trip. Furthermore, I learned all the important basics about guiding people on horse back in the Chilcotin Mountains. It was a very positive experience to strengthen my newly learned guiding and ‘teaching’ skills by taking out guests on daily rides or even pack trips to the Spruce Lake or Eldorado Camp. I also worked in the office answering Guide School enquiries and doing the monthly Guide School and Native newsletter. It was a very different kind of work and it took me some time to get used to it but by now I’m happy about gaining these skills as well because I became more structured and organised by meeting deadlines, for example.

In addition, I have learned to be very flexible because the life back at a ranch can’t be all scheduled and fully planned. However, it was fun to give a hand wherever needed and doing work I’ve never done before; I learned to drive a tractor and got up at 5am to find horses in the meadows and bring them back home again.

Together with my colleagues I had real wilderness experiences living outside in the bush for a couple of days without any luxury supplies. This way of living encouraged me to focus on the basics and rethink decisions I already made or have to make in the future, for example about my studies, family issues.

I could experience great teamwork in all kinds of work, both back at the ranch or out in the bush. I’ve always been a team player and it was nice to see that it even works with so many different people with different backgrounds and knowledge about things. To the team of Chilcotin I added my honest and reliable character, my conscientious work and open minded attitude.

Furthermore, living in the wilderness challenged myself to believe in and rely on my strengths and ability to handle different situations. I experienced that I can trust my knowledge and gut instincts how to approach problems and different issues in general. And once more, I became aware of my weakness of not being self confident enough but guiding and living in the wilderness don’t allow weakness, so I pushed my limits and left my comfort zone to experience that I can do things as long as I believe in my abilities and use all my knowledge and strengths. When I left the ranch after two months, I already knew that all the physical, psychological and emotional challenges made me a lot stronger and I learned to believe in myself. Back in Germany I’ll continue my studies to become a teacher and guiding at Chilcotin taught me that ‘teaching’ and interacting with many different people is something I really appreciate.

Merle