WHO WE ARE - Why is HGAS unique in Team Building?
Hi I’m Aaron Zipp. My experiences on the field as a C-class competitor in the USA are filled with fellowship and encouragement. I very quickly developed the impression that these events can serve as a form of social meditation, allowing participants 8 hours of collective focus, fun and challenge (winning is fun too). Of course, I want to evolve as an athlete, but also I want to share the fun with you!
Since expatriating with my wife, Sarah Zipp and our two daughters from the US in summer 2014, I recognised an opportunity to use the heavy events of the Highland games as adventure wellness events for both youth and adult groups. We were happy to have found ourselves living in a country whose inhabitants are so interested in sport, adventure and team-building so that a business like mine can thrive. To quote my 7yo daughter "The Netherlands has awesome bike paths, waffles and playgrounds, but NO RANCH DRESSING". The approach to wellness here makes up for that. Since then, we were smart enough to make the move to Scotland where we now teach in the Department of Sport at the lovely University of Stirling
Sarah Zipp competed in the US as well, and even our girls love participating in these events. One of our goals is to make the events more popular for women and girls in Scotland. It’s such a “sticks-and-stones” natural thing to pick something up and try to throw it further than someone else. It requires/teaches balance, strength, dexterity, focus, and drive. Although it is in the end an individual sport, team-minded support and focus are a natural bi-product.
I encourage everyone to try this activity as soon and often as possible!
WHY WE ARE - How I came to know and love the games
I remember watching my oldest daughter feed a giraffe under the shade of a big tree at the Topeka Zoo in 2014, and feeling absolutely certain that a visceral memory was taking root. It would be the kind of memory which could be tasted and smelled in great detail later in life. It made me wonder if I had such a mental staining at age 7. Not long after entering the query into my mental hard drive, I came up with a powerful event which had been buried deep beneath life's struggles to learn, achieve, plan and succeed.
Beneath a cool and dense hedgerow of Maples at the Renaissance Fair at Sterling Forest in upstate New York in 1980 stood a toe-headed boy and his father, watching burly men throwing heavy objects. That boy was me, and even at the early age of 7, I distinctly recall identifying the spectacle as a representation of the very rudiments of physical competition, using only elements of the earth and the eternal struggle against gravity. It was pure sport.
Upon return from the zoo that day, missing my deceased father and filled with thankfulness for my happy and healthy family, I was deeply fueled by the memory that had been sparked by a giraffe of all things. Of course, I immediately began searching for a caber and begin training to join the ranks of so few in the world who could (or would) pick and flip a utility pole! Eventually, I was given the name of a highly accomplished International Highland Games Athlete in Topeka named Chad Ullom. He invited me to practice in a park with some other athletes, and I began my love affair with the games. In no time, I was at my first competition. My Ph.D. candidate and now HG athlete wife, Sarah was abroad collecting data for her dissertation while I took my little girls to the event. From behind a safety fence, my youngest girl (and fellow redhead) Gwen asked me to open a tube of yogurt during the opening reading of the rules. That was when I got my first taste of how wonderful the athlete culture/family is. A very large, bald, bearded man physically shoved me aside and grunted "I got this...", and proceeded to open Gwen's yogurt. Everyone laughed a lot.
My network of friends continues to grow surrounding this niche sport, and my life is richer for it. Soon I found myself offering a mini-clinic to a class at the Manchester School for Young Children in Topeka, for whom at that time I happened to be called teacher (another story entirely). Following the recent expatriation of my family to Amsterdam, NL, I offered a similar clinic to my oldest daughter Addy's class. It was a raging success (you see that event pictured on the home screen). Parents and children alike began clamoring for more.
How many of you played with rocks, sticks and other elements of nature when you were young? Do you miss it? For those of you who are now blessed with children or grandchildren, do you wish they would find such eagerness in out-throwing a rock or tipping a dead tree in a predicted direction? I am CERTAIN that efforts to get children dirty and unplugged can be easily found in events from the Highland Games. And as for adults, this offers a chance to re-visit that simpler time.
We are founded on the principals of team-building for all age groups, event planning, event management, sport tourism, youth sport, school group athletic clinics and camps, preservation of culture and heritage through sport, sport for development, health and wellness, exercise and fitness,and preventative care through sport.