Choosing careers has always been one of the toughest things for young minds. While some decide what they want to pursue and continue a chosen career throughout their life, some keep on experimenting with careers to find the right one that ignites the fire in their hearts. In both cases, there is one thing that remains common, and that is it begins with ‘Education’.
Education does not necessarily have to be between closed doors and four walls; rather, outdoor education and hands-on experiential learning, helps individuals learn a great deal about life. It is well known that studies involving experiments, adventures, combining learning with fun, have shown positive effects on students and adults alike. Learning through ‘PLAY’ helps develop students’ problem-solving attitudes and teaches them to think differently and effectively.
Among the few people who understand the dynamics of this field is Mr Cliff Poulton, General Manager of Aventura Parks. He is a person in love with his field and job. If his personality was to be summed up in a word, the word would be ‘Passionate’. He is a man who is passionate about everything he does. He not only puts his heart into the field but also tries to bring in innovative changes.
The Story of Inception
Cliff Poulton has been through a variety of careers to find his perfect suit. He learned the mechanics of sewing machines in his early years to support the family’s sewing machine business. This career choice was followed by being a fully certified butcher. Then he spent the next 17 years managing teams for supermarkets before exploring the vast waters of education.
Cliff found his passion in education after spending seven years teaching at The Cambridge High School in Abu Dhabi. During these seven years, he directed Peter Pan, Nanny Macfee, Bugsy Malone, and Phantom of the Opera, thereafter, becoming the Director of Assessments for the school.
Cliff looks forward to enriching the lives of future generations. He believes it is his mission to think outside the box regarding his teaching style by introducing performance arts, science, and technology into his English lesson plans. This belief carries through as he moved into the business world.
Cliff unexpectedly turned towards the hospitality industry at Atlantis the Palm. He worked there as an educational manager for two years. During this time, he created educational enrichment programs for all educational establishments within the UAE and welcomed over 20,000 students, enhancing learning outside of the classroom environment.
Continuing this journey, he joined Dubai Parks and Resorts, focusing on the same objective by connecting all four parks to deliver exceptional educational programs welcoming 40,000 students in his final year at Dubai Parks and Resorts.
Cliff considers managing Aventura as the highlight of his career to date. Expressing the place, he says, “Education is the foundation of Aventura, delivering our mission: To inspire everyone, while fostering learning through play. Always reflecting on my value to enrich lives of our next generation.”
Aventura: Adventure Based Education
Aventura is the largest Adventure Ropes Course in UAE and is a unique destination for everyone, with its teambuilding park, specially designed for schools and corporates; a nature trail showcasing flora and fauna of the UAE for visitors of all ages, where the aim is to make visitors leave better than when they arrived.
Aventura is also a fully accredited IBCCES establishment. This implies that it can identify children and adults that fall on the spectrum scale. It allows those on the spectrum to be heard and understood.
Through his work at Aventura, Cliff has learned about the various dimensions of a start-up and the challenges of establishing a business in the UAE. Along with the Aventura Management team, Cliff understands the importance of building a strong culture of teamwork and excellence, while building sales and improving the bottom line.
Aventura’s Adventure with Students
Aventura’s teambuilding programs are mainly designed with specific learning objectives in mind, connected to school curriculum. The programs are facilitated in a way that engages with the students, educators, and leaders and deliver meaningful learning objectives for the students in an enriching nature environment that stimulates creativity.
The Bridge between Cliff and Aventura
Cliff has contributed to Aventura by introducing and developing numerous educational programs that fulfil the learning objectives of educators. Having the same vision as Lina Malas, Managing Director, they have designed meaningful programs that are then delivered by a team of trained facilitators, who share the mission of fostering learning through play.
He says, “We understand the challenges in life, and we support the growth of the future generation of our children.”
Aventura is becoming the number one attraction in the UAE, which delivers exceptional teambuilding programs that deliver the learning objectives of educational establishments and corporate teams. Education is ever-evolving with new and exciting methods and technology along with the connection and character building elements of working with others.
Overcoming the Hurdles
As a young student, during his school years, Cliff faced many challenges with bullying, which have imprinted some permanent scars in his heart. This challenge gave him an understanding of how it felt to be bullied, and during his educational career, he ensured bullying was never accepted. “My message to educators is if a child informs you, they are being bullied, please take action straight away and do not leave it–thinking it will go away. Students need your support.” Although the lessons were hard, they allowed him to be empathetic towards those who were bullied and learn more about the bullier and bystander as well. These lessons build resilience and determination, which have helped me in overcoming hurdles throughout my life.
Spark for the Fire
Keeping the fire ignited throughout the journey is the most important and difficult thing, and Cliff has maintained this fire well within. Emphasizing the motivation behind it, he says, “My motivation is to grow my team and to deliver opportunities to others that felt they do not have the ability or belief to succeed. Life is a challenge, and reflection is key to success. Failure is only a word, and if you have the desire and the right mentality, then you will succeed.”
Pearls of Wisdom
Advising students around the globe, Cliff expressed, “A ‘no-can-do’ attitude brings negative energy within, focus on the positive energy of ‘can do’. Mistakes will happen in life; learn from these mistakes, this makes you a better person–stay focused.”