Nicko Hawkins

Nicko Hawkins

Major: Health Sciences Education
Hometown: Lotus, CA
Class: Senior
Program Position: Trip Leader and Graphic Design Coordinator | Adventure Outings

How did you first get connected with Adventure Outings?
I became a white water raft guide right out of high school and have done that for the last five summers. A couple of my instructors were AO alumni who told me all about the program. I transferred here from Sonoma State and remembered all the great things they had said about AO, so I put in an application to be an assistant trip leader.  I was hired and moved up the ranks quickly because of my experience. I’m a trip leader now after one semester as an assistant trip leader, and I’m also the graphic design coordinator for the program.

How would you describe your current position with Adventure Outings?
I wear two hats. As the graphic design coordinator I do all the promotional outreach for AO through Facebook, videos, handbills, and posters. As a trip leader I get to take groups of students on amazing safe outdoor adventures. My specialty is water-based trips. The highlight of my year was to plan and lead an expedition style camp-out on the South Fork of the American River. Eighteen people slept on upside down rafts under a sky full of stars. It was awesome! I have two more trips this semester and I’ll be leading a staff orientation over Thanksgiving break.

What does working in Adventure Outings do for you personally, professionally, or academically?
The cool thing about AO is that’s it’s totally student lead – for students by students.  It’s personally rewarding for me to put someone a little outside their comfort zone, but within a safe and controlled environment, and watch them succeed. In my leadership role I have a lot of responsibilities and I have to make tough decisions. It has really helped improve my people skills. I participate more in class instead of watching my education go by. Plus, I’m getting better at my time management skills.

What do YOU bring to the table in your job at Adventure Outings?
I’m a good motivator. I have to create a sense of family among a group of strangers, so I use icebreakers to get them to bond. It’s awesome to see how close some of them become by the end of a trip. I feel a real sense of accomplishment when someone pushes through a difficult situation because they’re out of their comfort zone. I like to push the limits of AO a bit. I hope to create some new traditions at AO. The South Fork American River trip was my baby. That had never been done before. Once you set up camp, you don’t have any contact with the outside world. It’s very remote. It gives you the chance to let reality sit behind you so you can clear your head.

What are your career plans & how does your job with Adventure Outings better prepare you for that path?
I would love to teach adventure education to inner city youth. I’d really like to create a non-profit organization that would focus on the benefits of adventure education for at-risk youth. But first, I plan to do some major world traveling. In January I’m going to be a river guide in Costa Rica, and this summer I’m buying a boat with a friend and we are sailing south from Florida.