Great conversation with Scott Ammons from REI. Scott tells all about REI Outreach and Adventures. We also talk about his outdoor experience, the California Outdoor Recreation Partnership, and more.
First Exposure to the Outdoors
I got started because my grandparents, my grandpa in particular was a little bit of an outdoorsman. He was a farmer in Yuma, Arizona. When I was a kid they were still living in Yuma, on the edge of the desert and his idea of fun was to spend the day just driving out into the desert with his truck and a whole bunch of ATVs. Those three-wheeled death machines. So we spent a lot of time adventuring around in the Arizona desert. They also had a second house up by Lake Powell. At other times of the year when it was 120 degrees in Yuma, we would go hang out up there. So we spent a lot of time adventuring around slick rock canyons and out in the desert. That’s where I think it originally came from, just spending a whole lot of time messing about in the desert.
Things we talked about
One of the first things you need to do is find ways to get that initial professional experience. It’s great to have spent a lot of time backpacking on your own or taking your friends out. But you need to find a place to stretch and grow those muscles to work as an instructor, as an educator, there are places like the sierra club or a trip leader at REI, that are a great way to get experience, trip leading learning from them.
I tend to push people that have some outdoor experience but no guiding experience to look to the Sierra Club or look to other nonprofits that do outdoor work. Like our REI Adventures in Los Angeles is another great place where you can help take kids outside. Look around for those entry-level camps and volunteer opportunities where you can be involved in taking people outside is one way that I always suggest to people.
In the outdoor industry, it’s good to have a little bit of authenticity. No one says that you need to go out there and be some kind of an expeditionary badass, but just spending time outside, whether that’s surfing, running, walking the dog, going for a day hike, doing a little bit of backpacking. All of that is great. Particularly if you’re looking at wanting to get started with REI and retail or in another outdoor retailer. Just having that little bit of outdoor authenticity goes a long way.
Other Outdoor Activities
Stand up Paddling
Cryptonomicon by Neil Stevenson
Best Gear Purchase under $100
Connect with Scott