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Buitendenker: Guided walks encourage outside thinking
A new company providing guided walks around Belgium aims to get people outdoors to reflect and gain perspective.
Buitendenker - “outside thinker” in Dutch - was created in January when Kathryn Sheridan and Wim Schotsmans were both taking time off from work. Sheridan was taking a year-long sabbatical and Schotsmans was taking a break from teaching.
“We both separately found ourselves really getting out a lot more into nature and walking, and just finding that really healthy and really healing,” Sheridan says. The pair realised that others should be able to get that same benefit of getting out into nature, so starting Buitendenker was a natural next step to them.
“We’ll guide them, but it’s much more than walking. We’re walking and talking. We’re thinking along with them,” she says. Participants have the chance to talk about anything going on in their life, and the guides listen and provide insight.
The company provides walks in English, French and Dutch. Sheridan says one of the favourite compliments she has received is that clients feel more comfortable because she is not a therapist.
"It’s such a different environment, you’re outside, everything is very open and fluid and there’s a lot less pressure than when you’re in a room and staring at someone," she adds.
But she emphasises that she is not trying to be a replacement for a therapist, just trying to create a space where people can talk through whatever they are going through.
Buitendenker offers private walks, group walks and even company walks - which can be anything from walking meetings to strategy sessions to walking job interviews. The objective, Sheridan says, is to get people out of the meeting room.
“Not everyone thrives well in meetings and in meeting situations. By taking meetings or strategy sessions outside into nature, people are much freer to express themselves.”
Buitendenker is just getting started, but Sheridan already has big plans for the future. She wants to focus on working more with companies. "Every kind of meeting that people do in a meeting room can just as well be done outside," she adds.