Have you noticed that there’s a new face in the Outdoor Education Department? Brand new for 2019, we are delighted that John Tatam has joined the St David’s team and if you’ve not met him in person already, we thought you might like to know a bit about him.
Firstly, he’s a highly qualified Teacher of Outdoor Education with all sorts of top-level activity qualifications and when he’s not teaching then he’s most likely to be found rock climbing, ice climbing, mountaineering, hill walking, hill running, surfing, kayak surfing, SUP, white water kayaking, sea kayaking, open canoeing, sailing, camping, expeditioning, hillwalking, mountain biking - and if he’s not doing these then he’s probably sleeping!
He has taught in many settings over the last 25 years prior to joining St David’s College. These include the National Mountain Centre, Sir Edmund Hillary Outdoor Pursuits Centre of New Zealand and the Conway Centres on Anglesey. He enjoys teaching a whole variety of age ranges and abilities and most of all enjoys seeing others overcome fears, gain a sense of achievement and develop personal lifetime skills, so will fit in at St David’s perfectly. During a brief pause in activities last week, we pinned him down to ask a few questions about himself....
Do you have a favourite Outdoor Education activity?
“Oh yes, my favourite Outdoor Education activity has always been the best one for the weather conditions. This means on rainy days,white water kayaking is fantastic but on sunny days rock climbing is better. Then of course, on snowy days winter climbing, mountaineering or skiingmust be my favourite. Sometimes though there are waves in the ocean, so then it’s time to get out either the surf boards, high performance surf kayak or stand up paddle board. Occasionally the weather is too windy for all these in which case it’s time to jump in the dinghy or on a windsurfer and on the odd occasion that the weather can’t make its mind up then mountain biking, running or walking fill in the gaps. If I was told I could only ever do one thing though,then I think it would have to be camping. Luckily with modern headtorches all these activities can also be done in the dark so there really is no excuse for me, not to be exploring the environment around us in search of adventure”.
What are you looking forward to most on this year’s Outdoor Ed program?
“Meeting everyone and getting to know them and then being able to help everyone who wants it through Outdoor Education. The expeditions that take place, are great chunks of time to do this and I really look forward to pupils tapping in to the experience I have built up over the last 40 years of taking part in adventurous activities and Teaching in Outdoor Education.”
Like all the Outdoor Ed Staff, you've travelled to some amazing places, what's been one of the most memorable places you've visited?
“I have to say North Wales which is why I have stayed here since I came to do my Environmental Studies degree in Bangor.Somehow, I don’t think this is the answer you are looking for! Exploring New Zealand, India, Nepal, much of Europe were amazing, but I think the first of mytwo, three-month trips climbing in Thailand must be the most memorable. Partly because I camped on the edge of the jungle right next to the beach for the three months with all the jungle wildlife, partly because of the amazing rock climbing, but most of all because it was my first real visit to a completely different culture and environment. This is probably why I think expeditions are so important to our holistic education. But then again running in the Sahara……. kayaking in Slovenia… ski touring in the dolomites…. surfing in Portugal….”
You've got a great sense of humour, what's the funniest thing that's happened to you on an Outdoor Ed session?
“To me? Mmmm I am usually the one administering the humour so it’s a hard one this… but looking back,it must be early on in my career teaching in Outdoor Ed. I had been assisting a group led by a famous climber and a now famous photographer from North Wales. We had been gorge scrambling not far from St David’s College and my job was to stay at the back, make sure we did not lose anyone and collect all the ropes and equipment after everyone had passed me. As usual I got stuck in, kept everyone in front and collected all the equipment. By the time I got to the top my legs were buckling with seven wet ropes,I was over heating and very wet. I struggled down to the road with my load, only to find I HAD BEEN LEFT BEHIND! Without showing my age this was before mobile phones as well. Anyway, the irony was not lost on me and I still laugh about it now. I also do very good headcounts before going anywhere.”
So there’s a quick insight and I’m sure you’ll agree, the Outdoor Education Department and St David’s as a whole will be benefiting from this vast experience - be sure to say hi and introduce yourself next time you see him. Great St David’s College adventures await!