BOEC in the News

North Face speaker series hosts climber Conrad Anker for BOEC

Posted Sunday, September 15th, 2013 by Bruce

The last time acclaimed North Face climber Conrad Anker spoke in front of a crowd in Breckenridge, he’d fallen just 100 meters short of achieving one of his biggest life goals: being a part of the first team to successfully summit the famed Shark’s Fin of India’s 20,700-foot Mount Meru. On Saturday night at the Breckenridge Riverwalk Center, in front of a crowd of around 720, he told a very different story.

Where around 15 other expeditions and 30 total climbers had previously failed, he and fellow climbers Jimmy Chin and Renan Ozturk finally succeeded in 2011. Anker told his story, soon to be a feature documentary film, to a captive crowd.

“It became this big prize,” Anker said in an interview with the Daily. “It’s the culmination of all the skills I’ve put into it. It had the perfect blend of everything I like in climbing.”

Accompanied by video footage from his fellow climbers, Anker told the story of their 12 days on the face of what is considered one of the world’s toughest climbs.

In his third attempt at the climb, his team met with a number of challenges that threatened to derail their goal. He credits their dedication and perseverance for their eventual success.

The talk was part of The North Face Never Stop Exploring Speaker Series, now in its fifth year in Breckenridge and sponsored locally by The North Face Breckenridge store.

The event has also become a fundraiser for the Breckenridge Outdoor Education Center (BOEC), which helps run adaptive sports programs in Summit County.

“It’s something I really like to raise money for,” said Steve Lapinsohn, owner of The North Face Breckenridge Store. “People come out of the woodwork to give us something.”

He said last year’s event raised around $1,000 for the BOEC. With a strong turn out this year, Lapinsohn expects to more than double that.

For the first time, this year’s event included a charity raffle with a number of North Face items and prizes donated by other area companies.

“This is hands down the biggest event we’ve ever had,” North Face speaker series manager Brandon Friese said of Saturday’s crowd.

While Meru is Anker’s biggest personal achievement, he is also known for discovering the body of early Mount Everest explorer George Mallory who went missing in 1924. Anker and a team of climbers found his body in 1999. The 2010 documentary “The Wildest Dream” tells Anker’s Everest story.

His fellow climbers Jimmy Chin and Renan Ozturk are currently working on a documentary of their 2011 Shark’s Fin expedition. Anker said he hopes it will be completed and in theaters next year. It will be titled simply, “Meru.”

Sebastian Foltz, Summit Daily News, 10/14/2013

35 Years, over $395,000, and Still Going Strong

Posted Tuesday, July 16th, 2013 by Bruce

Ever since opening its doors in 1981, Mi Casa Mexican Restaurant & Cantina in Breckenridge has celebrated Cinco de Mayo. That’s no surprise, considering that May 5 is a popular holiday celebrated in both Mexico and the United States. It was fun, but soon the minds behind the restaurant decided that merely celebrating was not enough.”After a few years of doing it, we decided we should do it for a community organization,” said Dick Carlton, owner of both Mi Casa and the Hearthstone Restaurant, also in Breckenridge. “The BOEC was near and dear to a number of us, so we decided that they should be the organization that we worked with.”

A good cause, the BOEC is Breckenridge Outdoor Education Center, a local nonprofit that has been in the county since the late 1970s. Founded by a former Outward Bound instructor, the organization was created to provide outdoor education and recreation for adults and children with special needs or disabilities. Choosing the BOEC as the organization to benefit from the Cinco de Mayo fundraiser was not a difficult decision, Carlton said. Not only did it represent a good cause, but he and other Mi Casa staffers had volunteered with the BOEC before. “I really was able to experience the incredible work that the organization does,” Carlton said. “I experienced it firsthand, so it was really an easy decision for me.”

The number and range of programs offered by the BOEC have increased over the years. Outdoor education experiences are available year-round. Winter features include alpine and Nordic skiing, snowboarding, backcountry skiing, snowshoeing, winter camping and orienteering courses. The Wounded Warrior Family Ski Weekend, for example, brings injured and disabled military veterans and their families to the mountains to learn to ski and snowboard from trained BOEC instructors. The fun doesn’t stop with the snow, either. Summer provides hiking and backpacking opportunities, as well as rock climbing, canoeing, whitewater rafting, adaptive cycling, camping, high-ropes courses and many other programs.

This year marks the 30th year of the fundraiser, which has grown into a gathering of friends and locals. Since its inception, the event has raised more than $395,000 for the BOEC. On average, between 300 and 350 people attend, bringing in around $20,000 each year. Organizers have set their goal for 2013 at $25,000. All food, labor and costs are donated by Mi Casa, ensuring that all of the money raised goes directly to the BOEC. “Every single penny is donated to them,” said Mi Casa bar manager Jon Wasserman.

The event includes a buffet spread with culinary creations by executive chef Bruce Carlton. Local musician Drew Reges will provide live entertainment. A silent auction, which was set up to provide further funds for the BOEC, will include items such as an Epic Pass, a Unity snowboard, Rossignol skis and a house for a week in Hawaii.

“Everything they do for us is wonderful,” said BOEC development director Marci Sloan. The organization uses the funds raised by the Cinco de Mayo event to support the general operating fund, which includes upkeep on facilities, the transportation fleet, supporting staff and volunteers and the intern program.

Adaptive Ski and Ride Center Expansion

Posted Monday, January 28th, 2013 by Bruce

The BOEC Adaptive Ski and Ride Center at the Breckenridge Resort received a much-needed expansion and makeover this fall. The space, located in the Village at the base of Peak 9, was expanded to the tune of 1,000 square feet, an addition that nearly doubles the size of the Center. The remodel captured the previous outside deck and corridor area as interior space, re-placed interior walls, installed new doors, heaters, new paint and carpet throughout. There is even a new flat screen monitor to display lesson assignments. 

At 1,200 square feet, the previous space just wasn’t enough to outfit a growing number of students, and to accommodate the staff, volunteers and equipment.  Gene Gamber, who’s going into his 14th season as ski director, notes that the program has grown in his time here from 1,800 lessons in his first year to more than 3,000. On busy days, there could be 30 students, 30 instructors, 15-20 volunteers, plus parents and staff from other groups all crowding into that 1,200-square-foot office.  There wasn’t enough room for lockers, offices, and in particular, all the gear needed for adaptive skiing. In the past, that was all stored outside in the day and moved into the office each night. Gene anticipates that the new space will now accommodate all this activity and provide a higher level of service to our students and staff.

The BOEC owes a huge thank you to our partners, Breckenridge Ski Resort, Vail Resorts, and the town of Breckenridge. The School space is owned by Vail Resorts, who will continue to donate the use of this space at the Village.  The Town and its planning department generously approved the agreements and permits necessary to do the project, and waived all fees.

The project cost roughly $145,000, and thanks to the generosity of many individuals and businesses in the community, the full amount has been raised, both through cash and in-kind donations.  Particular thanks go to Steve West from West Brown Huntley and Hunter, P.C. who crafted the initial agreements and Marc Hogan and Jamie Pawlak from bhh Partners who drew up the plans, and to Jon Heckman of Heckman Constructors and Scott Downen of Columbine Hills Concrete who did the major construction work. On the cash donation side, John and Anna Sie and Phil and Barbara Gibbs anchored the cash donor list.  Many thanks to them and to everyone who contributed (see the full list below).

Leading the effort to secure the permissions required and raise the funds needed was Tim Casey, chairman of the BOEC Board. Tim spent countless hours on the project and is quick to point out that this project was truly a community effort, involving many generous donors, businesses, volunteers, staff and board members. The BOEC Adaptive Ski School expansion is an historic improvement to the services we provide to people with disabilities and special needs.  The expanded space will allow us to provide the very best in adaptive ski and ride lessons to those who would not otherwise have this opportunity.

The BOEC would like to sincerely thank all of the generous donors who contributed towards the renovation of our Ski and Ride School from July to December 2012.

Double Black
Breckenridge Ski Resort*
Town of Breckenridge*
Scott Downen/Columbine Hills Concrete*
John and Anna Sie
Tim and Patti Casey**
Jon Heckman; JLH Constructors*
Phil and Barbara Gibbs
CHuck Lenzmeier and Valerie Williams/Summit Foundation

Suzanne Brody and Aris Sophocles
Bill and Susy Gillilan
Margaret T. Morris Foundation
Tom and Jeannie Morrison
Steve West/West, Brown, Huntley & Hunter, PC*
Jon Brownson/Breckenridge Building Center*
Marc Hogan, Jamie Pawlak/bhh Partners*
Strategem Construction Inc.
John and Jan Quigley/Quest Mountain Audio/Video LLC*
Chris Farley & Chris Hawks/Farley Plumbing and Heating Inc.*
Dragonfly Fund
Henry and Anne Flint

Whit Smith/Blue Bird Electric*
Greg Norwick; Everist Materials LLC*
Peter  and Cheri Sarnataro
Scott and Debbie Sodergren
Gary and Ruth Gallagher
Bob and Nancy Follett
Ted Lawson
Kristen Marron
John and Sheila Walker
Pat Campbell
Matthew and Donna Johnson Charitable Fund
Rick and Susie Grossman
Charlie Hatch/High Country Consultants*
Premium Panels* 

Myron Buller/Chinstrap Construction*
Division 7*
Jim and Marty Trisler
Red, White & Blue Fire District*
Vivian Estey
John and Catherine Pershing
Mark and Deb Spiers
Barbara Hays
John and Linda Ebright
Ethan Estey
Don Crago
Linda Hammond
Dave Studebaker
Marci Sloan
Patricia Aden 

Our appreciation for the volunteers who helped in the construction:

David Altieri
Harry Backus
Phil Bannock
Jordyn Buller
Terry Bushue
Mark Daley
John Ebright
John George
Ted Lawson
Allison Myers
Ryan Sanders
Lee Sands
Jon Sawvell
Richard Shaw
Don Sullivan

2012 Paralympic Games–Be Inspired!

Posted Tuesday, December 4th, 2012 by Bruce

Watch this video of the incredible 2012 Paralympic games in London. See how the  adaptive sports taught at the BOEC are taken to the highest level.

Parkinson Association of the Rockies Flanked by Angels

Posted Tuesday, March 20th, 2012 by Claire

As I sit here remembering one of the best ski outings I have experienced in recent years, I decided to share my joy with others affected by Parkinson…

via Parkinson Association of the Rockies Flanked by Angels.

Wounded Warriors at Keystone

Posted Monday, January 30th, 2012 by Bruce

Caddie Nath, Summit Daily News, Sunday, January 29, 2012Photo Zoom
KEYSTONE — Petty Officer 2nd Class Benjamin Brown’s six years in the U.S. Navy left him scarred inside and out.

After support deployments in Afghanistan, Iraq and Korea, he was medically discharged in 2009 suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder and extensive physical injures he sustained while doing military police work at his home base in Washington.

Five years and six surgeries later, he is finally beginning the healing process — on the slopes.

“This is amazing,” Brown said of his experience learning to snowboard Saturday. “All those injuries set you back and put you in your head. Snowboarding allows me to get out of my head. The way I look at it is … if I can face my fears out there, like, I’ve got to do this turn and it’s scary, I’m going fast, I could fall, but I’ve got to just do it, then that allows me to face one more fear out in the regular world.”

Brown is one of 22 injured military service members taking part in the Wounded Warriors program at Keystone this weekend, as more than 2,000 active military personnel from all over the country gathered at the resort for the annual SnoFest event.

For active service men and women and their families, the weekend — packed with parties, races, a wine tasting, a cardboard-derby and opportunities to ski and ride — is an opportunity to get away and reconnect with friends in the military.

For many wounded warriors like Brown, the weekend is part of the recovery process.

The Wounded Warriors program is a joint venture of the Keystone Adaptive Center and other organizations, which fundraise and collect donations to provide the ski weekend, including lodging, airfare and lessons with adaptive ski and snowboard equipment, to the military personnel for free.

“It’s getting folks up and out of the hospital environment,” Keystone Adaptive Center program manager Joe Kusumoto said. “Learning a new skill and getting on the hill is a great way to get some of that adrenaline out, especially for folks with post-traumatic stress disorder. Exercise helps with stress.”

Many of the soldiers and service members in the Wounded Warrior program had never tried skiing or snowboarding before this weekend. For the rest, the weekend was an opportunity to get back to the sport they loved before they were injured.

The Wounded Warrior program was started five years ago and was designed to fit within the greater SnoFest event.

SnoFest, which has been hosted at Keystone for more than 10 years, is officially a recruiting and awareness event for the Air National Guard, which looks to hire former or retired military personnel for reserve duty. But it has become a vacation tradition for many in the armed forces across the country.

“It’s really nice to see military personnel be able to come out with their families and enjoy everything Keystone has to offer,” resort spokeswoman Laura Parquette said.

Keystone and bases around Colorado offered packages and discounts to help service members afford the weekend away.

Click here for full article with photos in the Summit Daily News.


Yoga and Disability

Posted Monday, January 23rd, 2012 by Bruce

The benefits of yoga and massage therapy are far-reaching.  Yoga helps us connect our mind to what is happening in our body, through focusing on and moving with the breath.  Massage therapy also promotes awareness of our body; it provides us with an opportunity to relax and release tension we may be holding.  I have been fortunate to have volunteered with the BOEC, teaching adaptive yoga and giving massage therapy to clients who are living with a Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI), Multiple Sclerosis (MS), or Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis (ALS).  There are several factors to consider as a yoga instructor and massage therapist when working with individuals from these groups.  Their motor functions and range of motion will be limited; there may be reduced sensation, and spasticity or rigidness in the body; there may be learning and cognitive difficulties, or emotional volatility.  In my experience so far, the clients who are staying at the Griffin Lodge carry a positive outlook and have been optimistic about their yoga or massage sessions. 

The adaptive yoga I teach has been done in a group setting, with clients and counselors joining in together.  The counselors have been invaluable as they are able to assist clients in performing a stretch.  The group environment encourages social interaction among the clients and a feeling of camaraderie.  Many of them are testing their limits in the yoga class and it is helpful to have the sense of togetherness.  Some clients, who are experiencing rigidity and spasticity, utilize the counselors to fully move them into a posture when they cannot do it on their own.  Others, who have limited range of motion and mobility, also benefit from the counselors’ gentle support in moving deeper into a pose. 

The yoga is adaptive in that the class is done while sitting in a chair or wheelchair, as is often the case.  We start with the pranayama portion, which means “breath work,” and emphasize deep breathing techniques.  Starting in a relaxing, mindful way sets the pace for a peaceful class rather than a vigorous one that may cause pain and strain.  It is important to have bodily awareness so that we perform within our limits, while still receiving the rejuvenating benefits of yoga.  We then move into a series of asanas, or “poses,” which is the stretching portion of class.  We stretch the neck, the shoulders, the arms, forearms, wrists and hands in different ways.  For many, this is doable albeit with some limited range of motion:  straps are used to help clients get deeper into a pose.  Next we stretch the muscles of the back, moving into forward bends, chest opening exercises, and spinal twists to promote movement and lubrication of the vertebrae.  We stretch the legs as much as possible, doing leg lifts, hamstring stretches, and ankle rotations.  If it is not possible for the clients to move their lower body on their own, we simply massage the leg, knee, and calf area.  This self-massage improves blood circulation and is important in preventing complications such as decubitous ulcers.  We end the class with a final relaxation, which allows the clients to rest after their exercise and gives their bodies a chance to integrate the stretching.  Clients often feel calmer after a yoga class. 

At the Griffith Lodge, I have given massage therapy to clients who are living with a TBI, MS, or ALS and to their partners, who are also affected by the circumstances.  Giving massage therapy has been a joyful experience.  These practices are restorative for the body and healing for the psyche and allow us ways to find pleasure in our selves, improving quality of life.

Massage therapy is performed for patients and their spouses, which is a healthy way for all to relieve the stress associated with living with a chronic illness.  Massage therapy can be performed in a wheel chair if necessary, or clients can be helped onto a table using a body board.  For clients with ALS, the heat produced by the mechanical nature of massage is therapeutic for controlling muscle spasms.  For clients who have had a TBI, massage helps to maintain healthy muscle and connective tissue, as it brings blood supply and oxygen to the tissue and carries away metabolic waste, and it can be an integral part of rehabilitation.  Only light effleurage or nerve stroking, which are gentle, low-pressure techniques, are done to areas where there is limited sensation.  For clients with MS, massage is wonderful as a stress-management technique that can promote wellness and prolong remissions, as stress has been shown to exacerbate symptoms among some patients.  Massage is indicated during subacute stages to maintain the health and mobility of tissues.  Light massage, energy work, and nerve stroking are more appropriate during acute stages. 

Erica Ragusa
Certified massage therapist, yoga instructor, and Ayurvedic specialist
Website: Breckenridge Massage Therapy

Berthoud Weekly Surveyor helps get the word out about life with MS and Programs at the BOEC.

Posted Friday, January 20th, 2012 by Claire

The Berthoud Weekly Surveyor helps to get the word out about BOEC’S programs being offered for adults living with MS.  This article offers the unique perspective of both what it is like living with MS as well being a BOEC participant.

Berthoud Weekly Surveyor

More Information about the upcomming Winter Program                                                  

Great Times at Hope Mountain Camp

Posted Monday, July 11th, 2011 by Bruce

Hope Mountain Camp, an American Cancer Society camp for siblings of children with cancer, happened June 24-27 and this is my traditional recap……except this is going to be the BEST one yet!!

This year we did the same activities, but in NEW places. We camped on Friday and Saturday nights, both in amazing places. We rock climbed at Camp Hale (very beautiful and very interesting place) and we rafted the Colorado River. As per tradition, we tackled the ropes course on the last day.

Why such little commentary you may ask…. well this year I have the BEST thing ever for you all…. you get to actually SEE and FEEL camp. One of our amazing campers filmed the entire weekend and made a video!! I really really REALLY hope all of you will take the 10 minutes and watch the video ALL the way through, its so amazing and really gives you a good peak at how special Hope Mountain Camp is.. and what it means to our kids who come.

Here is the video:

I also want to share with all of you a poem that this same camper wrote. She was inspired by our sharing circle and how the kids really rallied around each other. This year, I saw more positivity and encouragement than I had ever seen before during our circle…. and as always their strength and insight inspires and touches me.

Here is the poem:

Green, Yellow, Red, Green

A poem by Kaylee Pratt, Inspired by Hope Mountain Camp

Yellow light, red light, green light,
We’re born in this world
With nothing to know.
You play in the sun,
You play in the snow,
But then you get sick,
And go through chemo.

Life is a road,
And you are the car.
You can’t control death
To be near or be far.
Of all the places,
You go and you see,
You look through a window,
With no liberty.

An octagon sign
That tells you to stop.
The road is too short,
But in case there’s a cop,
You lay on the breaks,
And gather your thoughts,
And watch all the healthy
Pedestrians cross.

Sometimes you may help
Hitchhikers so sad,
A sibling, a friend,
A mom, or a dad.
They heal your scars,
You brush off their sand,
But sometimes you cry harder
When they hold your hand.

And sometimes a blessing
May cross your path.
A beautiful butterfly
Whose name was once Zach,
A bumper sticker
That may make you laugh,
A pretty new wig
Or a new floppy hat.

No U-turns,
No turning around,
One way street
Where maturity is found.
It’s been quite a while
Since your feet touched the ground.
Your road is as long
As your golden heart pounds.

You pass all the lights,
But follow the signs.
You play it safe,
Don’t cross yellow lines.
I have been here
With your hand in mine.
And really, the road
Is bumpy but fine.

Yellow light, red light, green light,
You’ve made it through
Much more than you know.
I’ve seen you hide,
And I’ve watched you grow.
You’ve reached the highway:
A long, smooth road.

I also want to take the time to thank the Breckenridge Outdoor Education Center… the staff there really worked with me on putting together the best Hope Mountain Camp we could under our circumstances and our course director remains to be the BEST we’ve ever had (I shudder to think what I might have to do to work with someone different). She keeps us organized, on schedule and IN FUN. Once again, the BOEC continues to hire GREAT interns and ours this session fall into that category.  And one last huge thank you to Erik Ortiz, as you will see or saw in the video.. he is a GREAT help to me at camp and the kids ADORE him. Thanks for being there Big E!

Amanda Childs, American Cancer Society

The Life of a Summer Intern

Posted Wednesday, June 1st, 2011 by Bruce

by Elizabeth McKee, 2010 BOEC Intern

Watching the sun set on the mountains around the Upper Arkansas River Valley on the way home from a road trip to the Sand Dunes National Park, I almost forget just how crammed I am in the backseat of a Corolla with three other people. (I say “almost” because getting my camera out of my bag to capture the moment requires all of us to move at least four body parts.) Sitting in silence, it’s one of those rare instances I have experienced in my life when I have felt like there is absolutely nowhere I would rather be and nothing else I would rather be doing. I am in the moment, taking it all in, thinking to myself how much I am enjoying my life. The typical stresses and worries that creep to the forefront of my mind in daily life to negate this feeling for even a self-proclaimed optimist are nowhere in sight.

It dawns on me how seemingly random but then again not so random it is that this is where I am in my life. Less than three months ago, I never would have imagined I could have a “job” that doesn’t feel like a “job.” I never imagined I would be “working” for 37 cents an hour and loving every second of it. Six weeks ago, I never would have imagined that I would be able to call the other five people in the car, essentially strangers, my friends. Before coming to the BOEC, I was not able to even imagine the gravity of what I was getting myself into.

It all started last summer when I was working as an occupational therapist at a hospital in my hometown in Wichita, KS. Whether it was that I found myself living at home again as a 26-year-old when I had sworn that would never even be an option or that I was feeling physically and emotionally burnt out from working a job that requires constantly “being on,” I knew I was ready for a change. Don’t get me wrong, I love my family and my job, but I knew I was not as happy as I could be given my current life situation. Having had some luck just jumping into new life experiences (ie just “trying” OT as a major or moving to Montana sight unseen on a whim), I applied to the BOEC. After all, I have heard someone say life was 10% what happens to us and 90% how we react to it. What was the worst that could happen? I would have to hang out in Colorado for five months and come home broke afterwards?  

Thinking back over my past six weeks as in intern here at the BOEC, I am realizing that’s just the way it had to be. I had to come here. I have an overwhelming premonition that this will be the pivotal time in my life, the point of reference I will make in X number of years as I trace what has lead me to where I am. I feel confident it is the first step on my path to finding my treasure, the intrinsic happiness that accompanies doing something you truly love. I do not know how or when or what that may be yet, but I am undoubtedly convinced the universe has conspired to put me where I need to be to figure that out. Specifically, I have managed to surround myself with people who will help me on my journey, whether they ever realize it or not.

Really thinking about the people I have met and the experiences I have had on courses has been a daunting task; it has turned out to be much more difficult and cathartic that I ever imagined. My experience with both staff and participants at the BOEC has left me with palpable emotions I have been almost unwilling to acknowledge until now,  having suspected their true strength and wanting to be prepared to be able to understand and incorporate them into my life. I knew the magnitude of my experiences here thus far comes with great responsibility, as being lucky enough to have had them requires a “pay it forward” toll in such a keenly karmic universe. I have been forced to look inward, to challenge my perspective and life as I knew it as an admittedly selfish 26-year-old…the life I knew before coming to the BOEC.

I must ask myself daily if I would have the courage I have seen in so many participants. It is more than courage to do the Ropes Course or go rafting, although in many ways these parallel the bravery the individuals who come here must have simply to get through each day in their own personal life. It was the courage I saw in a participant with ALS to let go of the anger he felt over being “surprised” with a terminal illness, to seek advice on how to stay upbeat and positive. It was the courage of spouses of these participants with ALS to provide care and emotional support 24 hours a day when they are really the ones who will have the longest and hardest road ahead on their own. It is the courage the participants exhibit daily to not let their “disability” interfere with life, regardless of physical and emotional obstacles…to carry on even if you need someone to help you get dressed or go to the bathroom…those little things we all take for granted.

I have had to ask myself how much do I appreciate all that I value in my life? How would I react if it was all suddenly taken away from me and I was forced to change my values and priorities? The first time I met Dave during the ALS course, his smile lit up the entire room. Having lost all ability to swallow, he told us the towel in his mouth was “just for looks, girls” as he winked. Typing out messages on his iPhone as his only means of communication, he said he stays upbeat by “just appreciating what I do have that works,” even if it is only his right hand. His motto in life is “No matter how bad things get, seems you always have a choice of ham, bacon or sausage.” Would I be able to say that?  How much do I worry about such comparatively trivial matters on a daily basis?

The ability to “adapt and overcome” as taught by the BOEC is most exemplified in our participants, although the motto in theory may have been designed to guide a fledgling intern trying to figure out how to “make it work” if you screw something up. Meeting a 38-year-old man whose brain injury cost him his marriage, family and use of his right side who says he is “extremely grateful” for his accident because of the knowledge and faith it has brought to him is epitome of the real life application of this concept.

To have participants with such challenges in their own life thanking me of all people for the experience they had while here at the BOEC has been the most overwhelming aspect during courses. If they only knew how thankful I was to be able to spend time with them! Each participant I have met has been such an inspiration, not only by their willingness to trust in us and try something new, but to see glimpses of what daily life back at home is like and their ability to maintain optimism. They have no idea that their acceptance, happiness, gratitude, and strength to overcome adversity offer invaluable insight into what it really means to be live a life worth living that truly incorporates all these qualities.

What they also do not know is that my motives during each course have been entirely selfish, as I can’t stop thinking about what I can take home from each experience. Each person I have met has offered me some tool to use to become the person I want to be when I “grow up.” I am reminded of a line from my favorite book, Paulo Cuehlo’s “The Alchemist”: “Remember that wherever your heart is, there you will find your treasure. You’ve got to find the treasure, so that everything you have learned along the way can make sense.”

I can say undoubtedly that the people I have met and the experiences I have had in this short time as a BOEC intern are bringing me a step closer to finding my treasure in life. And one day I will be able to make sense of it all, but for now I am content just to know I am a passenger in the backseat on the way to my next big adventure. I am headed in the right direction, and I surprisingly feel fortunate to be so crammed next to “strangers” who I know are essential to my journey. I can look out at the sun on the mountains and be in the moment, as I think to myself how much I enjoy and appreciate my life as a BOEC intern.

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