The Costa Rica Adventure Academy was started by Suresh Krishnan, the owner of Desafio Adventure Company. His goal is to train the next generation of adventure guides based on leadership, safety and service, improving the adventure industry and creating strong bonds within the community.
A group of seven young Costa Rican men from rural parts of the country recently graduated from the Costa Rica Adventure Academy in March, four with BriBri indigenous roots from Costa Rica's Caribbean coast. This group called themselves Di_Na-Mu which means Jaguar in BriBri.
While designing the Academy itinerary, Krishnan reflected upon his U.S Military training. "So much of what I learned in the Army I apply to my business," Krishnan said.
Although Costa Rica is renowned for being a peaceful, military-free country, Krishnan is convinced a country's military sets the tone for leadership, especially for young people. " In my experience, we don't have a strong culture of leadership in Costa Rica." says Suresh.
To teach this intense leadership course, he brought together three professional Master Guides, each with more than 15 years of local and international adventure experience to teach leadership skills in the Academy.
The objective of the training through the Adventure Academy is to condition the mind and body for the rigors of working in the adventure tourism business and the unpredictable natural environment. "Our Master Guides had the privilege of using Costa Rica's natural environment like rivers, canyons, lakes and rainforest as the classroom. One of the most grueling parts of the training was a nearly 2-hour rough-water swim in Lake Arenal, and then camping overnight in the elements," Krishnan said.
The students in the Costa Rica Adventure Academy were put in a competition with themselves and had to learn to work and live together. They were taught how to guide a raft, rappel tropical waterfalls, and hike in extreme conditions and went through rigorous physical training. After this 1-month training under their belt, they did a formidable job in the Costa Rica National Rafting Competition, and came fourth place!
Although physical training is a very important element for any adventure guide to posses, there's a lot more that makes a leader. For Krishnan, a leader has to be a good listener, be quick-thinking and base all decisions on safety and customer service. The students were graded on their problem solving abilities, constantly practiced safety procedures, and learned how to give proper customer service. "We were strictly focusing on the client experience," Krishnan says, "The students had to also take on the role of client in order to understand what it's like to walk in the shoes of our customers."
"After seeing this group of young men turn into strong leaders, I am confident that we are taking a big step into the direction of transforming adventure- tourism into a safer, stronger and more successful industry." Says Krishnan. "This Di_Na-Mu group of Costa Rica Adventure Academy graduates are going to make great leaders."
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