Image of the September 2011 Wilderness Magazine Cover Read more from the
September 2011 Issue
Home / Articles / Education

Change for the better

Cam Walker gave up his job as a chef for a life in the great outdoors.

Cam Walker was sitting on a ridge on Mt Rolleston in Arthur’s Pass National Park when he decided to change his life.

After leaving high school, he’d worked as a chef for five years and the hours were keeping him from the outdoors.

“I tried my best to keep rock climbing, tramping and kayaking, but it didn’t work because of the hours and the nature of that industry,” Walker says. “I got to the point where I was so unfit that when I did try to go for a climb I was just hopeless.”

Walker grew up in an active household and always wanted to gradually develop his abilities in the outdoors.

“The big decision to get out of hospitality was because it wasn’t allowing me to do my trips which are the most important thing to me,” Walker says. “I thought if I could work in the outdoor industry then hopefully I’d get out a lot more.”

After being inspired by articles in Wilderness written by Adventure Philosophy trio Mark Jones, Marcus Waters and Graham Charles, Walker enrolled in AUT University’s two year Diploma in Outdoor Education and Leadership course.

Afterwards, he secured a job with Tihoi Venture School.

Walker says AUT’s “strong relationships” with industry and school’s like Tihoi help students gain experience and find employment.

“As soon as I got going with the programme, I could see the different avenues in terms of work opportunities that could come from the course,” Walker says. “If you’re prepared to put in the effort then there’s definitely work out there.”

Walker worked for Tihoi for two years, teaching rock, alpine, kayaking, caving and first aid. While there, he also gained NZOIA qualifications in bush, white water and alpine.

He enjoyed teaching the boys at Tihoi, but felt he needed to keep challenging himself.

Now Walker and his partner Kelly, who also studied outdoor education at AUT, are travelling the South Island climbing mountains. Walker’s long term goal is to become a mountain guide.

“We’ve found we’re at the stage where we’ve got lots of good work experience, but we need to gain more personal experience and better judgement for our trips and to push ourselves in order to become better in the outdoors,” he says.

In April next year Walker and Kelly are going to work as field assistants on Macquarie Island, which lies halfway between the bottom of New Zealand and Antarctica.

“It’s a good opportunity to get down to a really interesting place and save tons of money,” Walker says.

Support Wilderness

Since 1991, Wilderness has had one simple goal: to help Kiwis ‘See more, do more, live more’ of New Zealand.

If you value our mission, please consider subscribing. As a loyal supporter, you’ll receive these benefits:

  • New Zealand’s best outdoor journalism We’ve won multiple awards for our journalism and magazine production.
  • NZ’s best trips. Browse more than 610 trips with downloadable maps and route notes.
  • Trustworthy gear reviews. Each month we review gear we’ve been bashing and thrashing for months so you can determine if its worth your money.
  • Member benefits. Our WildCard provides discounts at more than 20 partners throughout New Zealand.
  • Your support goes a long way. Your subscription will help us fund NZ’s best outdoor journalists and writers and ensure Wilderness will be there to inspire the next generation of outdoor Kiwis.

A subscription costs as little as $7.00/month for instant access to all articles, trips, gear reviews and gear guides.

View all our subscription options and join the club.

Already a subscriber? Login Now.