14 Most Unexpected Things We Learned in Patagonia

Wharton Leadership Venture Patagonia

Wharton Leadership Venture PatagoniaOn a Leadership Venture, you can learn a lot about leadership, survival, and the human body—err, the human condition. After returning in one piece from Isla Navarino, Chile, we wanted to share a few bits of wisdom we learned outside of the walls of Wharton.

1. Clean underwear is overrated
Take it from survivors of the wilderness—you need less than you think.
 
2. Snickers bars are a powerfood
Twelve hour hikes are tough, and you need the right fuel to power through falling down rock faces and climbing up waterfalls. But forget CLIF bars. Snickers candy bars are the real pick-me-up powerfood.

3. Poop jokes are the highest form of humor
No matter how old you are, jokes about #2 are #1 in our book. We probably talked more about bodily functions than anything else in Patagonia—and that’s okay. Whether you were on team “Fellowship of the Tube” or “Poo-trol 5,” the runs brought us together.
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4. You don’t need to be in the front of the line to be a leader
Whether you’re on the trail or the in the team room, leading from the front is great. But you can get a much better perspective of the landscape ahead and the status of your team when you take a step back and lead from behind.

5. You can wear Smartwool socks five days in a row—and you won’t smell
We promise.

6. Tap into your network of experts
Our Vertical guides were some of the coolest, most knowledgeable mountaineers, but we had to ask them for help if we needed it. A good part of leadership is knowing what you don’t know, so form your group of smart and savvy experts now. We probably would have ended up tumbling off a cliff or still stuck knee deep in mud if it hadn’t been for our guides.

7. Invest in good gear
Just ask Kelechi Okereke WG’16. You don’t want your pack breaking halfway through a venture. Or buy a fake down jacket when the weather outlook is a night of steady hail. Or accidentally buy a women’s hat with a hole for a ponytail.
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8. Don’t just focus on your next step, look down the trail
Knowing when to dive into the detail and when to zoom out and take the big picture view is a skill that any leader needs to learn. On the trails of Patagonia it was no different. We had to balance watching where we stepped and looking ahead for the next trail marker. It’s tougher than it sounds.

9. Eat before you’re hungry. Drink before you’re thirsty.
You’ll thank us later for this one. Anticipate what your body needs and take care of it.

10. You’re stronger than you think
This body wasn’t made for carrying 30+ pounds of weight, but we all survived—and thrived. If you can survive Patagonia, you can survive FRP.
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11. Secure your tent
The foundation of your tent is important—and we’re sure that there’s some parallel to the professional world as well. Take the time to anchor your tent (literally) or else it will blow away in the wind. We speak from personal experience. 

12. Leadership doesn’t mean doing everything by yourself
Your team is there for a reason.

13. The view was worth the journey
Sure it takes four planes, a bus ride, and over 15 hours of hiking to get there, but how many people have been to the end of the world?
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14. You can bond with people faster during five days in the woods than five weeks at school
Friends 4-eva.
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