Assistant Director for Trips
Venture Outdoor Leadership
As assistant director for trips for Venture Outdoor Leadership, Brian Holcomb is fulfilling a passion to share nature with others; his goal is to provide outdoor adventure experiences that enable members of the campus community and those in the greater Charlotte region to develop as individuals and as members of a team and to become inspired by the outdoors.
Holcomb graduated from Appalachian State University with a Master of Arts in College Student Development with a concentration in college outdoor programs administration. His experiences with outdoor adventures as an undergraduate at the University of Richmond prompted him to explore this career path.
During his freshman and sophomore years, Holcomb completed two living-learning communities, through which he experienced firsthand how the outdoors can contribute to a student’s development of interpersonal skills and growth.
“The opportunities were really impactful. They helped me build my identity and a sense of confidence as a student,” said Holcomb. “I wanted to pay this forward to other college students.”
Holcomb would go on to lead trips with the Outdoors Club during his junior year, and after his experience on a 28-day National Outdoor Leadership School (NOLS) course in Wyoming, he knew he wanted to pursue a career as an outdoor educator.
“These opportunities were fun, but they also developed challenges for students to grow through by facing their fears and trusting their group,” he said.
During the second year of his master’s program, Holcomb landed an internship at UNC Charlotte after connecting with Dave Sperry, director of Venture Outdoor Leadership. At the end of his internship, it was coincidence that a full-time position was available with the office.
“It was a serendipitous pairing,” Holcomb said.
Now in his sixth year with Venture, Holcomb trains student leaders to lead adventure trips. Additionally, he teaches two courses each semester in the Kinesiology Department and oversees the SOAR Outdoor Orientation Program for incoming students.
“Venture is experiential and a fantastic way for students to develop leadership skills,” Holcomb said. “Students learn how to develop projects, plan, communicate effectively and deal with conflict, all while managing risk in an outdoor context.”
His overall goal at Venture, though, is to provide opportunities for students to develop character and grow as leaders.
“Character is that sense of self-efficacy that you are capable of doing things at a high standard and in a moral way,” Holcomb explained. “Outdoor experiences do this by placing students in life situations that they can later reflect on and learn from.”
This article originally appeared in Inside UNC Charlotte.