Category Archives: Opportunities

Kids and the Outdoors: Make it a Family Affair

Cragmama training the next Chris Sharma

Most of my fondest childhood memories involve the outdoors in some way or another.  Whether it was running through a neighborhood meadow armed with a butterfly net and field guides, collecting worms along the lake bank with my dad before casting our fishing lines, or practicing cannonballs with my mom at the local pool, I grew up spending more hours outside than in.  Now that I have a 16 month old son of my own, my hope is to instill a love and respect for the outdoors in him the way my parents did for me.

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Opportunities: Milwaukee’s Urban Ecology Center

As part of our ongoing series on Opportunities for #OIBIZ, today we wanted to call out somebody who is doing it right and is getting kids outdoors. To this end, check out Milwaukee’s Urban Ecology Center. These folks are awesome.


The Urban Ecology Center educates and inspires people to understand and value nature as motivation for positive change, neighborhood by neighborhood. Our Environmental Community Centers:

  • Provide outdoor science education for urban youth
  • Protect and use natural areas, making them safe, accessible and vibrant
  • Preserve and enhance these natural areas and their surrounding waters
  • Promote community by offering resources that support learning, volunteerism, stewardship, recreation, and camaraderie
  • Practice and model environmentally responsible behaviors

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Opportunities: A Hidden Minority

Lately, we’ve been examining opportunities for #OIBIZ to be more inclusive, and to embrace greater diversity. In our minds, there’s really no reason why the demographics of the Outdoor Industry are not a micro-cosm of the population of the United States as a whole. En route to telling us how to be more aware of a vibrant part of our industry, today’s guest-post by our friend Mo Kappes takes a surprising turn. When a whole population of people don’t feel safe outdoors – when the objective hazard isn’t a bear, a fall, or an avalanche, but another person – we have a whole lot of work to do. Important things to think about, here…


When PEMBAserves asked me a few months ago to blog about my experiences as a lesbian in the outdoors, I was stumped.  What would I write about?  I can tell you what it means to be a woman in the outdoors — that’s easy.  People can see that I am a woman and treat me as such. Whether or not I am a lesbian can be more difficult to tell and, therefore, being treated differently because I am gay is much more subtle. We lesbians are a hidden minority.

As I pondered about what to write, my mind kept returning to a tragedy that occurred almost 15 years ago that has become a part of my collective memory.

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Opportunities: Go Fish. And Take That Kid With Ya.

The outdoor industry and the fishing industry. The fact that these are two entirely different worlds has always surprised me.

If you talked to a few fish, they’d probably tell you they spend as much time as possible outdoors. As a result I’m sure that most fishermen would say the same. But nonetheless, the outdoor and fishing industries couldn’t be much more different – maintaining almost complete separation in terms of brands, retailers, tradeshows, environmental priorities, and even the participants themselves.

One thing they have in common, though, is this: they’re both facing the increasingly tough challenge of bringing new people into the fold. As participants age or wander off to other activities, how does the pipeline get replenished?

Turn off that game and go outside!

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The Beautiful, Winding Road to the Top of Mount Rainier with Big City Mountaineers

We here at PEMBA have been talking for these past few months about Opportunities for #OIBIZ, primarily – so far – by addressing the need to helping women and kids to be more involved with the outdoors. Earlier, we posted a piece by Jeff Weidman about the Big City Mountaineers, a program that brings at-risk youth to the wilderness. It turns out that several of our friends participated in a “Summit For Someone” fund-raising effort in a climb of Mt. Rainier last summer. We asked our friend Katie Levy to tell us about what she experienced. Here’s her story…


“I know that I am a very strong person…and I may not shine on the outside like I want to, but I have a lot of powerful qualities on the inside that a lot of people wish they had, and that will take me further than anything else.”

– Timmeya Russell, 2009 BCM Trip Participant

I start each morning with a steaming cup of Yogi Tea because it’s delicious. Either that, or I’ve fallen for their marketing ploy – quotes that come attached to each tea bag. Gimmick or not, I can always count on those little pieces of advice to give me pause each morning. This morning’s tea bag quote describes exactly why I chose to climb Mount Rainier last summer to raise money for Big City Mountaineers. “Live for Something Bigger than Yourself.”

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Opportunities: We Are Too Damn Old

Do me a favor: Look at this picture and strip out all that you know about who’s in it. Just for one second, look for WHAT is in the picture, and not WHO.

As a random individual, THIS is the face of the Outdoor Industry: He’s 45, male, makes a certain amount, has three kids, is married.

He’s our customer, he runs our companies, works in our retail stores. We see him at the crags, on the bike and running trails, on the slopes, and in the backcountry. He’s at the beach, in the mountains, and everywhere in between. As a slice of who and what we are, THIS is that guy.

What’s wrong with this picture? I’ll tell you: This guy is too damn old to be the Average Active American.

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Opportunities: For My Kids

For the past few months, we here at PEMBA have been looking at Opportunities for #OIBIZ, and we’ll continue to do so for awhile longer. Today’s guest post is by Brad’s wife Vera Naputi, a teacher with long experience in getting her students – and her own children – outdoors. Several weeks ago we heard from Jeff Weidman about the Big City Mountaineers programs. Vera’s approach is a bit more grassroots and direct, and accessible for most of us: Find a kid nearby who wouldn’t otherwise have the chance to go, and take them outside; not just once, but often. Here’s why and how she does it.


For my kids, ages 6, 7, and 15 years, getting outdoors is as natural as sleeping.  It doesn’t take much to get them outside especially when their preferred outdoor activity is playing in the local park.  For the students I teach, ages 12-13 years, they also report that playing in the park is their favorite way to get outdoors.  That is, when they’re not watching TV, playing video games, sleeping, or texting.  This isn’t surprising, but their realities should be the springboard for coming up with a real solution that can be implemented immediately – by you, and by me.

I interviewed my students (some self-described as “lazy, addicted, sleep-deprived”) and got straight to the point:  What would it take to play outdoors more often?

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Opportunities: Why We Matter

Here at PEMBA, we’ve been examining opportunities for #OIBIZ these past few months. We started with our challenge to get more women outdoors, and we’ve heard how we can get more kids outside as well. The truth is that there are many, many communities that we can engage in order to get more people involved with recreating outside. In doing so, we can do more than just grow #OIBIZ; we can change lives. Nowhere is that more apparent than in our guest post today. Our friend Malcolm Daly of Paradox Sports tells us what it’s like to wake up one day with your world suddenly changed, and how that doesn’t change who you are. In fact, if anything it makes you focus on what’s important to you. Check it out…


Frank was riding his bike home on a frozen winter night when his wheels went out from under him as he crossed a set of railroad tracks. His head hit the pavement and he was knocked out—right in front of an on-coming train. He’s now missing his right leg and the front of his left foot

Christa was volunteering for a literacy program in Haiti when the earthquake hit. The building collapsed on her foot and it had to be amputated.

Robb went to the hospital with a severe pain in his left foot. He woke up three weeks later with both feet amputated and the necrotizing fasciitis eating away at his hands.

Kate had osteosarcoma when she was 13 and they had to take her knee. In the US, they chop it off and give you a mechanical knee and foot. In Canada, Kate’s home, they perform a rotation-plasty surgery where they amputate above the knee and below the knee. Then they sew your shin bone to your thigh bone, backwards, and what was your ankle is now your knee. It looks kind of funny but Kate is as mobile as you and I are.

Mike fell down the Snake Coulior on Mt. Sneffels, slammed into the rock at the bottom and broke his back. The doctors told him he’ll never walk again.

Chad had an IED go off under his Humvee in Iraq, blowing the 3-inch thick steel blast plate upward with enough force to crush his foot from the bottom up.  Nine months and 17 surgeries later it was easy to make the decision to amputate: He knew he wanted to climb again and he knew he could do it as an amputee but not as a cripple.

Quinn was avalanched off a mountain in China and ended up with frostbite so severe they amputated both feet and all 10 digits. The doctors split the paddles that were what was left of his hands into lobster-claws so he could dress himself, train his horses and swing an ice axe.

Beth broke her neck in a car wreck when she was 18. She’s got no feeling or function from her stomach down. Then she got married and had three kids. Then she got divorced and raised those kids on her own. While all that was going on, she qualified for the US Paralympic Team in Nordic Skiing. Imagine that!

These are the stories of just some of the amazing people who call themselves Team Paradox. We come from all walks of life, from all parts of the country and from any country. We’re your bus drivers, graphic artists, dentists, food servers and park rangers. We’re all around, but we’re not a very big group. Hell, if we all got together and outfitted ourselves at a large specialty store we’d hardly blip the monthly sales, so why are we important?

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Getting Kids Outdoors with Big City Mountaineers

Big City Mountaineers is a non-profit that provides a transformational experience for under resourced urban teens.  Our clients are aged 14-17 and most likely have never been away from home or out of their immediate neighborhood.  This age bracket is a very impressionable time in their development. This is the “sweet spot” to give them a different perspective on what life could be.

The BCM trip is gender specific and is a one to one adult to teen mentoring experience.  5 adults and 5 teens go on BCM trips that are 8 days in length and are either alpine or canoe focused.  The trips have a specific curriculum designed to encourage team work and elevation of self image.

I have personally done nine BCM trips in Boundary Waters and each time they have gone through the same “curve”.

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Fighting The Battle On Two Fronts, Women And The Ouray Ice Fest

Dawn Glanc Powering To 1st Place at the 2011 Ouray Ice Fest - Photo courtesy Anne Hughes

You’ve heard about the girl who kicked the hornet’s nest, likely. It happens to guys, too. We kicked a great big one in the days prior to this year’s Ouray Ice Fest. The piece we posted then (referenced below), remains our most-commented piece, ever. In the discussion that followed there were several strong voices, and it seemed that several of them needed more space. We’ve been happy to provide it. Here we’ll hear from Jill Missal of She points out – quite well – that when women try to be heard outdoors, they first have to fight the battle on two fronts…


If you’re reading this, you probably remember the kerfuffle over the women’s Ouray Ice Festival climbing competition. If you don’t, I’ll sum up – PEMBA raised the question about why there were only five women in the competition even though there were more qualified female climbers – the PEMBA crew even personally knew some of the women who had applied and were turned away. Brad wrote an article critical of the situation, and the rumors started flying. I got my back up over it and so did a few others. Word went around that the other qualified women had backed out once they saw the difficult comp route and people scrambled to qualify this decision.

Later, we discovered that the fifteen men to five women ratio was the standard for Ouray and that the alternates were simply unable to attend the comp as they had made other plans after being turned down during the first round. That already-small number had dwindled to four by the date of the competition because one athlete had become injured and was unable to compete. Brad issued an apology for his rabble-rousing and I got snarky at him for apologizing because I thought he was right for bringing it up. It was Good Times all the way around.

The discussion continued  (in a civil fashion) for a few days. Most people seemed satisfied with the resolution and the facts as were eventually revealed. Me? Not so much. Surprising, I know.

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