As we begin the new year, it’s always fun to look back and see how far we’ve come, where we’ve grown and what we’ve done. At the moment, I’m sitting in my cabin on Hahn’s Peak, just outside of Steamboat, and I’ve just finished a day of soul-searching, skiing with my dog, and working on my business. It’s been a great day, and I was blessed with a beautiful sunset over the Mt. Zirkel Wilderness just as I crested the last hill while ski-climbing back to the cabin. The powder snow was light and fluffy, and there wasn’t another soul on the mountain.
It’s been a big year, for sure, with lots of changes. You see, I left a “safe” job in the software industry to follow my passion and live my dream. It wasn’t a choice that was made lightly; in fact, it was over two years ago in August that I embarked on a backpacking trip with the same dog through the Mt. Zirkel Wilderness to determine my true north and what I wanted to do with the next phase of my life. I’m currently looking out on the ridge line that I hiked those two years ago, and it’s bringing back some incredible memories.
On that trip, I came to the conclusion that I wanted to help people transform their lives through adventure. I had a vision of taking groups out into nature and working with them on building a team within their company and designing strategy for how they could run their business better–and have a lot of fun while they were at it. I had a vision of taking a group of executives on a whitewater rafting trip full of adventure and having their lives be forever changed. I also envisioned how I could include the inner-city youth leadership organization (CityWILD), of which I serve on the board.
How would I make this happen? I had led many a rafting, skiing, and camping trip with my friends and their unsuspecting visitors, but I had always done it as a labor of love, charging nothing and taking on all the logistics and most of the risk. There were many humorous stories from some of these individuals dealing with altitude, alcohol, and attitudes, but it was the underlying feelings of camaraderie, trust, and joy that made me believe companies whose employees spent their days behind a desk could also benefit from those same characteristics.
When I decided that I wanted to start running these trips on a professional level, I was quickly reminded that there were more than a few barriers to entry, with insurance, certifications, and permits topping the list. I was more than a bit downtrodden, but as I was mentioning this to a friend of mine from my former software company, she said, “That sounds exactly like what our team needs, but how would you compete with a company like CBST Adventures?” and she sent me the link to their website. As I examined the company I realized that they had an incredible business model, and they did unique team building events that incorporated outdoor experiential education, community impact, and had an array of initiatives already in place.
I reached out to the organization and after some work, I was able to meet up and observe one of their events: a GPS wilderness survival eco-challenge for an organization of hair care professionals. Watching the event was entertaining in itself, but all the flowing, gorgeous locks of hair added a level of style one doesn’t usually see out in the mountains
After seeing what an amazing job CBST Adventures did with that event, and after long discussions with the owner about their permits, insurance, certifications, and past experiences, I felt I had been directed to this group for a reason.
Eight months ago, I purchased CBST Adventures and that has allowed me the platform to enact my vision. This year we had the privilege to take a group of global leaders from a large multinational corporation on a trip down the Colorado River, where we led team bonding games, taught wilderness survival skills, and facilitated rock climbing, nature hikes, GPS lifeline challenges, and campfire cooking competitions. It was so well received that the company signed up again this year for the exact same trip.
In addition, we were able to execute over 20 Community Impact events and were able to incorporate CityWILD into many of those events, giving real job opportunities to 13 CityWILD students and make a major impact in our local communities. Talk about workforce development in the most positive light!
I’m not sure what the future will hold, but the direction of making a conscious change in this world, while helping people transform their lives through adventure, seems like a pretty good direction to me.