Vale Jim Schoel

It is with a heavy heart I share the sad news that Jim Schoel passed away last week.

Jim took his last breath in the loving arms of his family at his home, exactly as he had wanted.

It is certainly true for me, but I am sure that Jim touched the lives and souls of many a facilitator in this community. If you have a copy of Islands of Healing, Gold Nuggets or Full Value School on your bookshelf or know anything about Adventure Based Counselling, you have Jim (in part) to thank.


An Extraordinary Human Being


Upon receiving the news, I immediately wanted to hug him. Jim was a great hugger. Always brandishing a huge moustachioed smile, he had a heart of gold, was deeply thoughtful and all up a wonderfully loving, caring, very human being.

Jim stands alongside a few other giants of the adventure programming field such as the likes of Karl Rohnke. I was truly privileged and honoured to work alongside him many times over the years. He was a friend, a mentor and an esteemed colleague. There’s a little bit of Jim sitting on my shoulder every time I invite my group to reflect, think and grow.

His life touched me in so many ways. This impact is possibly best captured in a quote he often shared while leading groups (from Nietzsche and shared in Gold Nuggets:)


“He who has a why to live can bear with almost any how.”


And speaking of Gold Nuggets, my copy of this seminal book is truly well-worn and I thank Jim for creating it every time I pick it up. As one of the most often-referenced books in my library of adventure programming publications, I share one of the most quoted stories from it below. It invites me and my groups to laugh, think and reflect every time – a loving tribute to how Jim worked.

Here it is, in full (author unknown.)


If You Are Unhappy


Once upon a time, there was a non-conforming sparrow who decided not to fly south for the winter. However, soon the weather turned so cold that he reluctantly started to fly south. In a short time, ice began to form on his wings and he fell to earth in a barnyard, almost frozen.

A cow passed by and crapped on the little sparrow. The sparrow thought it was the end. But the manure warmed him and defrosted his wings. Warm and happy, able to breathe, he started to sing.

Just then, a large cat came by and hearing the chirping, investigated the sounds. The cat cleared away the manure, found the chirping bird and promptly ate him.

The morals of the story:

  1. Everyone who shits on you is not necessarily your enemy.
  2. Everyone who gets you out of shit is not necessarily your friend.
  3. And, if you are warm and happy in a pile of shit, keep your mouth shut.


As a force of love, Jim will be deeply missed.

If you would like to view his love-filled Thanksgiving Memorial service, click here.

Rest in peace, my friend.


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