Category: Random Thoughts

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Danny changing the cargo net on the high ropes course

 

This is my second spring at Adventure links. After a long winter here at the park, some of our new seasonal staff have arrived. It took me a little while to realize that one of the great aspects of my job was going to be meeting new people each season. Working with someone on small projects and training them on equipment and tools really allows you to get to know them quickly.
Remembering names is not one of my strong suits, especially when you are introduced to ten or so at one time. Meeting the staff and learning what their attributes will be for the upcoming season, as it applies to the facility and vehicles, sure does make it easier to remember.
Everyone has something positive to offer, and  that positive attitude and enthusiasm we can work together to get things done. Its hard to imagine a job where you would work with and see the same people month in/month out…or even year in/year out. The guarantee of meeting new faces and getting to know young people from all over the country sure is a nice perk.

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Staff working on a project in the field

danny-main-Danny Stevens | Facility and Fleet Director

Facili-Trees and Port-o-Pines, The myth of our park bathrooms

Campers and students always ask the tough questions. One of the first is usually…Where do I go to the bathroom? Do I have to go into the woods? Well we have your answers! They might surprise you too.

Our Park Is equipped with standard toilets, stalls to maintain your privacy, sinks to wash your hands, and dryers instead of paper towel to help keep our park clean. We have a huge bathhouse that surrounds all of these tech savvy waste disposal units.

For those groups who adventure here for more than just the day, they will experience our showers as well as much more. Perfect pressure and heavenly hot water. Don’t forget about your own personal showering space. Oh it’s just like home, except for the memorable conversations and bathroom barter system that occurs for those who have come a little less prepared but with the help of their friends will not go without.

 

ashley suntheimer-Ashley Suntheimer | Group Program Manager, 

 

billyfort

It seems the older I get, the farther back in life I go to look at times I had it “all figured out.” Today I reflect upon one of my most treasured childhood memories and my first marriage proposal. I was 6 years old…

As a child, well before WiFi was even an idea, we spent our summers on an island in the Adirondacks only accessible by boat with a rustic cabin deliberately absent of electricity or running water. The adventure of it all was profound. Even better, I knew I would see my best friend, Billy. Although Billy and I disappeared into the woods the moment we stepped ashore, there was something this island brought out in the rest of my family I treasured as well. Each in a different way, we accessed a peace and connection otherwise tough to find in the day to day shuffle and scuffle of family life. We had to eat, so the grown-ups knew we’d all be together at mealtimes.

The memory I treasure was spending hours constructing a shelter/fort on the edge of Bear Pond where the rowboat was docked. We couldn’t google “fort building” at that time so we were left to our imaginations, our spirit for “survival,” and the untouchable joy of convincing ourselves we had everything we needed to live forever in that spot. In fact, he proposed that we get married and stay there. 37 years later, the memory is as rich and vivid as if it was present day. What we knew then was that we had the key ingredients for our survival: 1) a place to call our own, 2) a rowboat to travel “wherever” we wanted, 3) some handmade tools and “weapons” to get food, and 4) a connection, adoration, and friendship that gave us freedom and content.

I am stunned at how far we allow ourselves to wander from the simplicities and essentials that bring connection and contentment. Amidst the pressure, the constant input of external stimuli, and speed at which life occurs, I relish the treasures lodged in the mind of that 6-year-old that re-introduce myself to me. I may spend some more time here…

ice

Unbridled joy… that’s what you get when you mix a snow day, ice-coated mountain
driveway, and a run with a 10-year-old.

My daughter’s face lit up when I posed the idea of going for a run on this icy day
home from school. “This will be pretty funny, mom.” And it was. The laughter erupted
when we struggled to gain and maintain traction up the first big hill—we couldn’t look
at each other (we were too focused on our own balance) but we could clearly imagine
how ridiculous we each must look. Each step was an adventure of whether we could
continue to gain ground. Finally, one of us said what we were both thinking: that
coming back down was going to be really crazy. We journeyed the icy mile separately,
but were brought together when we heard the yelps of each of us almost falling
peppering the quiet woods. That was only broken with the sounds of our redbone
coonhound’s nails grappling for control and sliding as she shared in our struggles.
We ran, slipped, and searched continuously for places of stability where gravel poked
through the ice or bits of ice chunks provided the slightest reprieve.

Coming down was as crazy as predicted and although the goal was simple, to not fall, I
realized that this challenge of coming down was much different. While we were trying to
not lose ground on our climb up the hills, on the way back down, we were desperate to
slow the pace and not gain ground too quickly and slide out of control.

Of course, it made me think about the personal and business challenges I approach
and navigate each day. Which of those am I trying to gain footing, move carefully
through to not lose ground or fall, and where do I find places of strength, stability, and
safety to continue to push on? And, which of those am I worried the accelerated pace
is potentially a threat and I need to gain traction and control to not gain faster than
I can manage? And then… are there times that I am skipping or avoiding “the run”
altogether?

Sometimes it takes a dramatic or painful event to have realizations that pierce the veil of limited understanding.  Here was one of mine…

It was a beautiful June day and our facility was bustling with the return of staff and the arrival of brand new team members for another summer season.  I was finalizing my plan for their intensive weeks of training with us while balancing meet and greet time with office time.

The phone rang, my life changed. It was my big sister letting me know our dad had taken his own life.  Sound stopped, movement stalled, and the world and all that was happening around me fell away for a immeasurable moment in time. Once I regained a little composure, I began to wonder how I would face the staff, how I could possibly navigate the next three weeks that required me to be emotionally and physically accessible to so many, and when I would have the time to grieve.

I couldn’t help but collapse in tears in front of the staff as I tried to explain.  They silently acknowledged that it was their turn to be strong. What emerged from that silence was the most profound, meaningful, and connective training in our company’s history. What I viewed as an inconvenient, incomprehensible, and inescapable time of vulnerability as a leader was actually a gift to us all.

Do you ever catch yourself assuming the wrong things?

“Leadership is not about giving it all you’ve got. It’s about giving it WHAT IT TAKES.”

During a presentation to a group of business leaders, Gina Mollicone-Long said this and
I’ve allowed it to permeate the many layers of assumptions with many more layers to
navigate to arrive at the core.

First, I assume I know what “IT” is! The critical importance of IT may supersede
Leadership in that phrase. What is the pursuit? Where are we going? How do we
know when we’ve arrived at ‘IT’?

And secondly, the illusive journey of assuming, correcting, and deciphering what skills,
flexibility, emotions, and mental models I must acquire to achieve ‘what it takes.’

More exertion and more time are not a guarantee of more results.

 

It hit me while listening to a keynote session by John O’Leary last month. Opportunity and purpose collided in that moment.

John was describing the gap that we, as adults, battle daily between “What we KNOW/BELIEVE” and “What we DO.” How does this gap increase or decrease in our lives when it comes to healthy lifestyles, leadership, parenting, relationships, tough decisions, mistakes, challenges, success… ?

Where’s the opportunity? Our opportunity at Adventure Links is rich and ripe. It lies in capturing attention, providing the platform, injecting role models into their conversations, and by WOWing children with the power to shape how they perceive themselves in this world. The magical recipe: Captivate… and follow with: PLAY with a PURPOSE in the exact moment that children are defining What they BELIEVE and What they DO.

“Mama, you’ve got to see this.”

We took the wonderful opportunity to camp out on our property with another family last month.  The hammocks were hung and we all climbed in to our cocoons for the night.

It was still dark when my daughter appeared next to me and climbed in to try to sleep a few more hours. A short while later, I hear a whisper: “Mama, you’ve got to see this…!”

When I opened my eyes, what I saw was perhaps the most intense and brilliant sunrise I’d ever experienced.  It truly appeared as if the woods had caught fire.  I could tell she was a tad hesitant to have awoken me, so I thanked her and distinctly let her know I was grateful to witness a view that I would have otherwise missed.

How many other moments would I miss without the reminders to share the unique perspective and sense of wonder that children bring to my life?  It hit me that as adults, parents, professionals, and contributors, we spend a lot of our time in “sunset” mode.  We reflect, project, and sometimes object.  How do I bring more “sunrise” people, moments, and attitudes in to my every day existence?

Because of that one spectacular sunrise, I challenge myself to sometimes discard the “what has happened” and open my eyes to what is possible.