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Instructor Daniel Jeffrey

“Do you want the cool story or the real story?”

This is the option Go Ape instructor Daniel Jeffrey gives curious children when they ask about his missing left hand and forearm.

It’s exactly the attitude that makes Dan a fantastic instructor. Met daily with this question he diffuses discomfort and nerves for the adventures ahead with a light-hearted kindness.

If you’re interested, the “fun story” is that it was bitten off by a shark… or a crocodile and the “real story” is he was born this way due to medical complications. In his own words, the condition is simply a “12 letter word beginning with p and has phlegm in it.”

However, this “disability” does not seriously hinder his work at Go Ape. As the tattoo on his right arm says, “It’s ability not disability that matters”. For every inconvenience, he faces there is a “out of the box” solution. When harnessing he relies on the customer to help him lift up the harness while he adjusts it. Or, even more impressively, he uses one arm to catch and release himself as he climbs the ziplines to open the course in the morning.

“I’m probably one of the few people the careers councillor at school helped. I was into Beavers, cubs, climbing, walking on Dartmoor and the careers councillor suggested a path in outdoor education.

I’m very fortunate that instructors I learnt from bent over backwards for me to learn stuff. With their support I learnt to work smarter, rather than harder, and find outside the box solutions.”

Dan started working with Go Ape way back in 2007 and has since worked with outdoor activity centres and learning groups across the UK. He has multiple outdoor qualifications including climbing and archery and even wrote the syllabus for the charity The Open Youth Trust. 

Currently, Dan works at a high-security special needs school during the week and works at Go Ape part-time on the weekend.

“I don’t consider Go Ape as work, Monday to Friday at school is my work. Go Ape is fun and I love walking into the cabin at the weekend. No two days are the same, but then on the flipside the most repetitive part of the jobs, like the safety briefings are also the most interesting bit. These are the times when you can connect with customers and make their experiences special.

Naturally, I gravitate towards customers who have disabilities, as I have insight in how to support them. Recently, there was a young lady who has severe cerebral palsy and hearing aids. Considering my background in education and experience I attempted to sign with her and was able to make her more comfortable that way.”

How Dan Lives Life Adventurously  

"Other than working at Go Ape, Dan embodies our values of living life adventurously!  He can often be found on the water paddleboarding or surfing as well as climbing or hiking. As he says, “Only boring people get bored, it’s all about finding adventure and enjoying life.”

“I like to think my ability to think outside of the box has made a better instructor. I’ve often had to work doubly hard as other people to find a way to do things. But I have learnt there is almost always another way to do things, even if you have to use your feet, research and ask customers or colleagues for support. It’s all about finding your way.  

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