Monday, November 22, 2010

2010 AORE Conference

I had never heard of AORE before I started working in the American Alpine Institute office.  As a person who didn't study recreation in college, I wasn't aware that there was an organization which supports young people in their quests to work in the outdoor industry.  The Association of Outdoor Recreation and Education or AORE is just such an organization.

AORE recently held its annual conference at 10,000 feet in the beautiful Colorado resort town of Keystone.  I was lucky enough to have the opportunity to attend the event in order to represent the American Alpine Institute.  It was only my second time to Summit County, but it felt just like the first time that I visited.  The area is absolutely beautiful and everywhere I looked there was a tremendous amount of skiing and climbing available.

The AORE conference brings together people from all over the country to discuss issues of importance to those who strive to work in the outdoor industry. "The mission of the Association is to provide opportunities for professionals and students in the field of outdoor recreation and education to exchange information, promote the preservation and conservation of the natural environment, and address issues common to college, university, community, military, and other not-for-profit outdoor recreation and education programs."  The best way that the AORE Board of Directors has found to develop these opportunities and this information exchange has been through this yearly conference.

Attendees had a number of interesting opportunities.  There were literally dozens of workshops on everything from working with young people in the outdoors, to developing challenge courses, to creating international outdoor programs, to wilderness medicine, to hard skills like climbing site management and rappel safety.  Additionally, students were able to attend a variety of social events in order to network with outdoor professionals (like me!) and with each other.

Perhaps the two highlights of the event for me were the two keynote speakers.  Former AAI guide Angela Hawse provided the first of these.  Angela talked extensively and emotionally about a grand experience on Ama Dablam.  She lead an all women's expedition on the 18,251-foot mountain where for the first time in history, not only were the climbers all women, but so to were all the members of the Sherpa support staff.  Angela's expedition was designed not only to climb the peak, but also to raise money for a safe house for girls through the dZi Foundation.

The second keynote address was made by Mark Jenkins, a well-known writer for Outside and National Geographic.  Jenkins spoke extensively about his investigative work on the murder of seven Central African mountain gorillas in 2008.  His original article on the subject can be found here.  The story of the mountain gorillas and the slides that the writer showed with them put the audience on the edges of their seats and kept them there.  Jenkins is a powerful storyteller...which is probably part of the reason that he works for such high-end magazines.

AAI was a major AORE conference supporter.  We provided six $1000 scholarships to aspiring outdoor educators that attended the conference.  In addition to that, we devoted a block of time to talk to students about what it takes to become a professional mountain guide. In many ways this short time period was the most rewarding part of the conference for me.  It was absolutely wonderful to have the opportunity to give students guidance on a career in the mountains.

After attending this conference, I've become a big fan of AORE.  Most people enter the outdoor industry from backgrounds in other things.  Many of us get "sidetracked" by the industry until we are so immersed that it's in our blood.  The young people who attend the AORE conference are not among the sidetracked.  Instead, they're the ones that come into the outdoor industry with a taste for it well before the rest of us.  And indeed, this deep-seated interest is what will likely make them future leaders of the industry.

--Jason D. Martin

1 comment:

University Recreation said...


Thanks for the posting. The AORE appreciates all that AAI has done to support the association. Very happy to hear you enjoyed your experience in Keystone.
Tim Mertz