Outdoor Recreation Inspires Leadership

Published 11.12.2021

Colin Browne

by Colin Browne


My name is Colin. I am a junior here at Penn College. I was born and raised in New York City and moved to Pennsylvania in the eighth grade.

The pace is slightly slower, which I don’t mind, but I am still getting used to it. One of the beneficial things about coming from a metropolitan area such as New York City is that there are lots of people: people everywhere, 24/7, 365. So, growing up, I always had the privilege of different experiences and being around a lot of people from all walks of life. Therefore, when deciding to pursue a career, I always knew that it would have something to do with helping people. Human Services and Restorative Justice fit that category. Penn College is the perfect place for that (and it is affordable).

Over the summer, I took the class “Outdoor Recreation as a Therapeutic Tool.” From my personal perspective, the class was hands- down the best class I have ever taken. Everything was different, from the class introduction every day, to the classroom setting – which was almost always outside in the beautiful weather – to the activities, icebreakers, the personal goals that we created for ourselves, the leadership skills we built, the reflective feedback at the end of every class, and much more. Every day, we did something new. In fact, prior to the outdoor recreation class, I never participated in a challenge course, kayaked, or played with a buzz ring (which, by the way, is really fun and therapeutic) or developed and facilitated a group activity for an entire class. I realize that much of what I have learned in this class, and all the other lessons I have learned thus far during my academic career at Penn College, are valuable lessons that I, and others, do not always think about using. The facilitation, leadership, teambuilding, challenge by choice, and the Full Value Construct (to name a few) are tools I learned in this class, which are things that I will definitely use in my personal and professional life.

The Full Value Construct comprises five principles essential for everyone, especially leaders and facilitators, to propagate as best they can. That is:

  1. To support the little person (the person who may not be able to help themselves).
  2. To constantly support the group/team (in whatever it may be).
  3. Respect (To always show respect).
  4. To guide.
  5. To encourage everyone as much as possible.

These values, which are just one example of the many lessons and experiences we had, really resonate with me, and I even have a copy of the values on my wall to remind me that I should always do my best to encourage and be a good role model in life, which will make me a better person and human services professional when I graduate.

I thank Mr. and Mrs. Brent and Daria Fish for their financial support in building the Fish Real Estate Leadership Challenge Course. And, I thank Dr. Cooley for propelling the idea. He is an amazing, passionate, teacher and just an incredible person. I am grateful to have had him as a teacher and am certain the Challenge Course will be a wonderful resource and great benefit for all students at Penn College for years to come.