When we train people as Firewalk Instructors we naturally become invested in those people and we love to see them taking their new skills out into the world. We get excited when we hear they are about to lead their first Firewalk. Sometimes they will lead a Firewalk within weeks or days after they complete the Firewalk Instructor Training. For others, it might be a bit further down the line.
“I remember leading a Firewalk for the first time. It was a whole mixture of emotions, excitement, nervousness, etc, and I loved it.”
Stephen Brown, Master Firewalk Instructor and Trainer
Today, we caught up with Graham McClean from The Four Elements Firewalking who trained with us last summer and just recently lead his first Firewalk.
When, where and with whom did you train as a Firewalk Instructor?
27th June-30th June 2017 at Gortinessy Old School House, Carn, Donegal, Ireland with Stephen Brown and James Hunt of Firewalking International. I also got to share this life changing experience with four other amazing people; Mina, Keely, Haley, Madara.
How did you end up wanting to become a Firewalk Instructor?
Becoming a Firewalk Instructor was a natural progression for me. I have taught Martial Arts for years and always had a keen interest in personal and spiritual development. After attending a Sweat Lodge ran by Stephen Brown, I knew I wanted to work further with him. When I saw the Firewalk Instructor Training course on Facebook I just felt that it was perfect for me, and it came at the right time. I had planned to do it in the October but was lucky enough to avail of the course in June. The universe was telling me to do it sooner rather than later.
Can you tell us about your first Firewalk Event?
The first Firewalk I led was a Charity Firewalk for 76th/122nd Finglass West Scouts. The event was held at the Scouts Den and we had 20 people taking part.
I was lucky to have the help and support of Jennifer Egan (Fire Tender), Christopher McClean (Wheelbarrow Operator) and Andy McClean (Glass Walker Extraordinaire).
How were you feeling in the runup to leading your first Firewalk?
I had some fear about the event not going ahead, as we had to postpone the original date back in October 2017. Thankfully the numbers were sufficient to run the Firewalk this time around. From then on it was just pure excitement.
In the weeks leading up to the Firewalk I was busy sourcing the right materials and ensuring I had all the tools required. A few days before the Firewalk I drove to Westmeath to pick up the wood with my son Christopher and pulled all the little bit and pieces together.
I was just so excited to run my first Firewalk, 8 months after completing the Firewalk Instructor Training course.
Is there anything from your training that helped you?
The openness and approachability of both Stephen and James, and their willingness to share their knowledge with us, is what instilled a great confidence in my own ability to be able to do this alone.
When I did face challenges, my own ability to think quickly and pull in what I had learned on the course turned what could have been a disaster, into a great experience. It was full of learning, and the manual I received during my training is battered and bruised from checking and rechecking.
How did your first Firewalk go?
This wasn’t actually my first Firewalk. The first Firewalk I led was the night before, in my back garden, with my family, on a cold Saturday night. There were 5 of us in total. It was part of my preparation and a refresher for the Charity Firewalk which was scheduled for the next day. The Family Firewalk went off without a hiccup and everyone had a wonderful evening, I was over the moon and excited for the next day.
The next day came and this was it. I was in the public eye now, with my trusty sidekick and partner in crime, Jennifer Egan, who I had just trained up as a Fire Tender. We were ready to go and we were excited.
It was a family event with a turnout of 80 people with 20 of these actually participating in the Firewalk. I had decided for my first event to get a friend of mine, Anthony Kane who is a professional photographer to video the whole event.
It nearly went wrong!
We started setting up at 3pm and our kids were there helping out. With the grass down, we set our Fire with newspaper and kindling. We were set-up and ready to go. Then people starting arriving. Everything was going to plan until we lit the Fire and it very quickly became evident that we were in for a quick learning curve. The Fire was being stubborn and the wood just wouldn’t light as well as it should have. With everyone watching I felt panic starting to rise but hints and tips from my training started to come back to me and we repacked the fire with more paper and kindling. Eventually we had to resort to using kerosene as time was ticking and people wanted to do their Firewalk.
Once the fire took I was happy enough to leave my fire tender to look after it; and I went inside to start the safety briefing. Everyone was excited and nervous. They listened to the safety instructions with some humour added in to calm the nerves. I was inundated with some cracking questions from the kids who were participating in the Firewalk.
Then out came the glass (I had decided to do a Glass Walk to warm them up) to some shocks and gasps, This was the part my 9 year old son was waiting fo. He took over the demonstration and put everyone at ease. Every single person walked on the glass. Now it was time to Firewalk!
How did you feel after that event?
I was totally elated, like a big child on Christmas morning. Seeing everyone’s faces as they walked across the coals made all the preparation and hard work well worth it. The feedback was incredible and I seen a huge increase in visitors to my Facebook page and website, what more could I ask for?
Any key learnings?
You can’t prepare enough for a Firewalk Event. Preparation is of the utmost importance (it also helps the stress levels). Make sure you have all your paperwork sorted beforehand, printers do misbehave. Use your checklists, they were invaluable to me on the day. Also I need to invest in a Van.
Any advice for other Firewalk Instructors as they prepare to lead their first Firewalk?
Believe in yourself and remember that preparation is key to success. Make sure you have good people to help you. You should be confident that they can be left alone while you tend to other things, like the safety briefing.
What next for you and 4elements?
We will be running a luxury Retreat in Ballybur Castle with Our Healing Rays in October 2018.
In the meantime we will be looking to get more exposure and build our audience for future events.