Adventure and Transformation

Originally Published on LinkedIn.

It's amazing to look back and remember those moments that set your life in a new direction. I often say Adventure changes lives. I say so because it changed mine over a decade ago when curiosity peaked and I decided to take an indoor rock climbing class in LA. Little did I know, it would set me off to climb some of the world's highest peaks and on a journey of self discovery, growth, and entrepreneurship.

Having personally experienced the power of adventure and it's ability to transform lives, I am thrilled to be setting off to climb Pico de Orizaba, Mexico's highest peak (18,491 ft) on behalf of Big City Mountaineers (BCM), along with 3 other amazing women: Elizabeth WilliamsEmma WalkerJessica Hamel. Our experience in the outdoors have impacted our lives in different ways and so we are all using that as inspiration to climb this mountain and raise money to offer a similar opportunity to under-resourced youth to have the same life-changing experiences in the outdoors. 

Like many of these kids, I was the unlikely adventurer, a city girl from LA, and when I started adventuring, I couldn't even run a mile. I discovered adventure and the outdoors later in life in my mid-twenties, and through those experiences learned just how strong, brave, and resilient I was through years of challenging climbs, travels, races, and more.

Elizabeth, fellow team member and Director of Programs at BCM, shared Issa's story with me from their most recent expedition. It moved me as it made me think of my first summit, and those moments of overcoming self-doubt that were required to get to the top.

"We wake up early to attempt a high point on the nearby peak. Issa is tentative as we dive into the scrub oak before ascending to the saddle. As the hill steepens, Issa slows and admits she’s really scared. She doesn’t, however, say she can’t do it. Step by step by tentative step she makes it to the saddle. The final slope to the summit is loose scree. Issa is scared with every step, but we figure out away with a trekking pole held between the two of us to find a rhythm. With that boost of confidence she finds her footing. We reach the last fifteen feet to the summit cairn and our team of nine grabs hands and walks to the top together. We open a surprise bag of Snickers and Issa is in tears again, this time from excitement. In our summit picture, her smile is radiant."- Elizabeth Williams

Showing young people what they are truly capable of is important work, especially when their current life circumstances would not allow for these types of opportunities. To give some perspective, BCM serves youth:

  • 50% are from single parent or guardian-led households
  • 83% are from families living below the poverty line
  • 10% have experienced homelessness
  • 14% have experienced violence at school

The positive impact of an expedition can last a lifetime and set individuals on a whole new life path. Adventure lets us see beyond our current limitations or perceived limitations, it opens our eyes to all that is possible. I am so grateful to discovering a love for adventure and setting new limits for myself beyond anything I “should have ever been.” It’s my mission now to share that gift with others. I hope you will join us and support our team, give more kids the opportunity to get outside, and share our message.


More about Big City Mountaineers:

Big City Mountaineers transforms the lives of under-served youth through wilderness mentoring expeditions that instill critical life skills. We partner with community-based youth organizations and caring adult volunteers who act as mentors in the field to help young people realize their potential. Our curriculum improves integrity, self- esteem, responsibility, decision-making abilities and communication skills in close to 1,000 youth annually. BCM has a proven track record of improving young peoples’ lives with:

  • Increased likeliness to stay in school
  • Reduction in violence
  • Reduction in drug use