by Rochelle Palipane Gunaratne
The proverbial “all work and no play makes Jack a dull boy,” rings true, which is the main reason for folks to optimize on these adventure programs which are a source of learning.
The lessons learnt through these resonate throughout the lives of those involved and creates a stronger bond within the teams.
I have always thought of my island as a paradise isle. I don’t deny the hardships we face but the thrill of being able to explore new terrain and enjoy the wonders of nature is a deep yearning which is fulfilled time and time again through the many escapades within the country.
Quite recently we headed towards Wasgamuwa to join a group of adventurers led by ex-serviceman, Major RaajivWanigasekera on the Mahaweli Expedition- it was clearly not for the faint hearted as it required the skill to manoeuver a tandem kayak in the Mahaweli River for a distance of 15km. Yes the water levels were low but there were jagged rocks, sharp edges and other obstacles along the way. To make matters more challenging was the fact that there were about 15 other boats with most of the participants as inexperienced as myself. So naturally, the first few attempts at moving forward were futile and my daughter and I kept going around in circles, capsizing and promptly being rescued by the expert team of rescuers and guides.
Several hapless attempts later we were merrily on our way and expertly glided through the water. We could not lose our concentration at any given time as the current would have dragged us away but the pace slowed or even came to a languid stillness at certain areas so that we were able to rest our oars and dip our arms and feet in the cool water. It also gave us the capacity to simply enjoy the moment and shelve it in our memory.
A few years back the word outbound training received a new lease in life! Gone are the days when family, companies or school outings were merely about singing songs, playing random games, and letting it slip out of your memory once you got home.
Major Raajiv Wanigasekera takes his role in outdoor training to heart, with honorary credentials to his name, his knowledge and expertise in this sphere makes him a linchpin in this field. He is the Founder/Director Training & Operations, the Chief Facilitator Outdoor Training, Game Changer at Adventure Education.
He is an alumni of S. Thomas’ College Mount Lavinia and a graduate from the Pakistan Military Academy. Besides serving with the elite 4 Armoured Regiment, Sri Lanka Armoured Corps and being attached to the Special Forces, he was actively involved in conducting Military training at all levels, including mission oriented special operations. He has also held office in various command and staff and training positions.
A paratrooper and a SCUBA diver who has seen combat in many fronts, he is highly decorated for bravery in combat and has been seriously injured in the line of duty. Raajiv retired as a Major with 15 years of distinguished service.
Major Raajiv has also worked at Brandix as Head of Group communication, and as AGM HR & Administration at United Motors PLC/ TVS Lanka. Imagination, creativity and planning are his core strengths. He has over 300 training programs formulated locally and internationally to his credit. Currently, he is involved full time in Outdoor Training and also consults on Human Resource Development and Training.
He holds a degree/diploma in Military science, Disaster management & Human Resources and is presently reading for his MBA. Major Wanigasekera is one of the few Sri Lankans who qualified as a White-Water Rescue Technician. He is also an active EXCO member of S.Thomas’ College, Mt. Lavinia, and a Committee member of the Wild Life & Nature Protection Society of Sri Lanka.
A passion for the great outdoors sparked Raajiv and his friend to introduce a fantastic way to learn. “We developed a love for nature and adventure as boy scouts, which was further nurtured by our parents. As adults we chose separate career paths, with me joining the army and my friend joining, the corporate sector, yet we retained our friendship through various sports such as kayaking, camping and mountain biking as we derived immense pleasure through sports that revolved around nature. Subsequently we developed a knack for sharing our knowledge with colleagues and friends, which gradually sparked an initiative called Adventure Education, which was launched in 2003.”The facilitation, including team development activities, adventure and out-of-the-box corporate experiential, indoor and outdoor initiatives have led them to the forefront in this field.
These value- added programs manifests a behavioral change as it requires getting out of one’s comfort zone, and it provides a great platform for experimental learning guaranteed to make you a better person. “They are thrown into the proverbial ‘deep’ with none but each other to hang on to, and they have to make a herculean effort, test their inner strengths, and endurance levels to achieve success individually and as a team.”
“As in all matters concerning the wild, one must be aware that it comes with no foolproof guarantee of safety, yet with us there are no holds barred when it comes to safety,” stressed Raajiv. “We use a range of reputed brands and all the activities are assessed by certified safety officers.
Risk taking is mitigated due to excessive precautionary measures and we are prepared to handle any eventuality having facilitator trained locally and internationally on life saving, first-aid and CPR and rope rescue ” stated he.
“Providing new and innovative experiencesin the great outdoors based on the element of fun is our goal,” concluded, Raajiv, who encapsulated the basic prerequisite for effective learning, which should always be intermingled with a spark of adventure.