Going from Local to Explorer: Inspiring Outdoor Adventures and Community Building (Kierre Childers, Owner, Revel Treks and Tours)

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Kierre Childers humans outside

So we all want to be people who are outside having cool adventures — but what about finding adventure right where you live? How do you learn the best local spots, break out of your comfort zone to try something new and, maybe even more importantly, find adventure buddies with whom to do it?

Those are all questions Kierre Childers is working to tackle through her Palmer, Alaska-based tour company Revel Treks and Tours, which focuses on helping locals get outside and explore Alaska.

Breaking outside your comfort zone in your own backyard can feel like a daunting task, especially when you’re squeezing it into your already packed life. But Kierre has some great suggestions for making it happen as you learn to explore right where you live, find a community to do it with and get comfortable with asking for help.

Listen to this helpful episode now!

Some of the good stuff:

[2:15] Why this episode is a little different

[3:03] Kierre Childer’s favorite outdoor space

[4:20] Kierre’s outdoor story

[8:10] Not so many volcanoes in Indiana

[9:02] Why we love where we live

[13:22] Why focus on tourism for locals?

[15:37] What’s 2020 got to do with it?

[20:34] Is it surprising that locals need help doing local outdoor stuff?

[21:00] P.S. it’s hard

[24:46] Here’s a little about Revel Treks and Tours

[27:45] The struggle of finding out what’s happening

[32:50] Here’s some tips for getting outside right where you live

[39:03] Kierre’s favorite outdoor moment

Connect with this episode:

Listen to this episode on Apple Podcasts, Google Podcasts, or wherever you find your favorite podcasts.

The following is an edited transcript of this episode of Humans Outside.

Amy Bushatz: You know that feeling you get when you spend even a little bit of time outside, no matter how challenging it is to get out there, spending time in nature is always worth it. I’m your host, Amy Bushatz, and this is another episode of Humans Outside. Join me as we hear from fascinating outdoor minded guests and use the Humans Outside 365 Challenge to push us outside daily. Ready to hear from experts and outdoor lovers who make heading into nature just a part of who they are while we work to do the same? Let’s go.

It’s no secret that I absolutely love where I live. Palmer, Alaska is a small town set against two mountain ranges tucked into a river valley about an hour outside of Anchorage. We grow massive vegetables, have incredible mountains to view and explore and have a strong sense of community. In short, it’s the best.

I am not the only person who thinks that. And some people like today’s guests love it so much, they’re making a career of showing it off. Kierre Childers is spurring on that community spirit I love so much by running a guiding company that caters not just to tourists, like so many awesome Alaska guides already do, but also to locals who want to learn and explore more right where we are. That’s something that is helping people who already live here, get outside here in Alaska. And you know I like that.

In this episode, Kierre’s going to talk to us about building a sense of community around backyard tourism and adventure through her company, Revel Treks and Tours. She’ll tell us about her journey to Alaska, why she decided to make it home and why it’s worth it to guide everyone no matter where they are from. And here’s something fun: if this episode sounds a little different it’s because we’ve recorded it outside, sitting at a picnic table in a local park. Here’s that conversation with Kierre. Kierre,

welcome to Humans Outside.

Kierre Childers: Thanks so much for having me. I’m really excited to be here and yeah look forward to chatting.

Amy Bushatz: Yeah. I’m so excited to have you here. I have never recorded an episode with somebody outside before, just like, hanging out in one of our collective favorite outdoor spaces. That’s so cool.

Kierre Childers: Yeah. I’m, I’mI love that we’re outside, so yeah. Looking forward to it.

Amy Bushatz: And this was totally your idea. The reason I so rarely do this is because I’m often with my guests in very different spots. You know, they’re, we’re recording virtually, and they’re in, say, new Zealand and I am in the US and recording together is not possible.

Yeah. And so it’s really fun even to have the opportunity to do that. So thanks for the suggestion. You messaged me last night, Hey, have you thought about doing this outside? And I was like, I have in fact not thought about that. We should do it because it’s still the summer here and it’s gorgeous and it’s just perfect. So thank you for the suggestion.

Kierre Childers: Of course. Yeah.

Amy Bushatz: Yeah, that’s really exciting. Well, we are actually in an outdoor space as opposed to in my podcast closet today, but we start our episodes imagining ourselves in our guest favorite outdoor space. Like, we’re hanging out with you somewhere you love. So we like this space. Maybe this is your favorite outdoor space. I don’t know. Describe it for us, if you will.

Kierre Childers: Yeah, of course. So this is definitely a top local space. It’s some nearby nature and ode to some earlier episodes right, of Humans Outside. So yeah, so this, we’re at Crevasse Moraine, the Crevasse Moraine Trail System. I’ve read it’s between like seven and 10 miles of trails. So don’t quote me on how many miles.

Amy Bushatz: So I run this trail system, and I can confirm it’s so many miles,

Kierre Childers: Right? It’s a lot of miles and it’s, yeah, it’s in a, it’s an old glacial moraine. So kind of rolling hills is the nature of the trail system here. And really beautiful lush forest as well. It’s a great, it’s a great spot.

Amy Bushatz: Yeah. And it’s connected to a different part of Greenbelt. Not to dive too deep into, into Palmer, palmer- mania here, but it’s a part of our larger green belt connects to a different trail system. And it is, I’m not gonna call it my favorite place to get lost ’cause who likes that, but it is a place that I frequently get lost. Yeah. And I don’t

mean that’s like, like,philosophically, I mean that literally I find myself on thinking that I’ve done an out and back and behold. We are not where we thought we, yeah

Kierre Childers: Yeah

Amy Bushatz: I might, I may or may not say some swear words. I don’t know.

Kierre Childers: Yeah.

Amy Bushatz: Can’t confirm. And, eventually do make it back to my car. Okay. So, You’re not from Alaska, just like I am not from Alaska. Yeah. How did you end up here and how did you become someone who likes to go outside? What is your outdoor story?

Kierre Childers: Yeah, so, so yeah, let’s start with my outside story. I guess how I started to like being outside. So I grew up in Indiana. And grew up in the outdoors in a really casual way. My mom volunteered at a local park, so she would plant flowers at a gazebo there. And then my dad, he would take us mushroom hunting and we would go on bike rides with my mom. And so I was never somebody who was like, we weren’t. Hiking in the mountains. Indiana doesn’t really have mountains, but we were spending a lot of, time outside just, doing different things. And then I would say fast forward after college, I was working in a communications job, so a lot of time inside. And then I was just, yeah, I was just kind of sick of being inside. And I had a friend suggest that I go be a a hiking guide on volcanoes. And so that,

Amy Bushatz: That’s like a whole different trajectory.

Kierre Childers: That was a very pivotal moment in my outside story because it was like, you can take, you can guide people? Like what? Like what does that even mean? And so I followed


Amy Bushatz: have lot a volcanoes?

Kierre Childers: Yeah. Not a lot. Not a lot. Yeah, so anyway, so I did this like, it was a volunteer gig guiding people on volcanoes for a few months, and it was just like, one of those aha moments, like, wow, I really love this. I’m out, I get to be outside all the time. I get to take people outside. I get to connect them to this place. And yeah, so that really sparked this like passion for backpacking. And so spent some time traveling and backpacking, lots of hiking, and then ended up in Alaska in 2015, volunteering on a trail crew in Willow. So I. I think, you know the canoe loop there maybe. And and um, yeah, so was there for a summer, fell in love with Alaska, started guiding in Denali in 2019, was there for a few years and, it’s been like this build of finding the combination of all the things that I love. So in 2022, came back to Palmer and, yeah. And started a guiding company in the place that I wanted to be, so, yeah. Yeah.

Amy Bushatz: Yeah so just for context, Willow is, gosh, maybe 45 minutes from where we

are right now.

Kierre Childers: I would say that.

Amy Bushatz: Yeah. Yeah. And you were on the Canoe Lake or Canoe Loop rather on Nancy Lakes.

Kierre Childers: Exactly

Amy Bushatz: Which is a state park recreation area. And, I recently tried to explore it. There were, I can say a lot of bugs there. And I decided that is not the trip for me this year.

Kierre Childers: That’s fair.

Amy Bushatz: Yeah.

Kierre Childers: It’s a big undertaking.

Amy Bushatz: It is a big undertaking. It’s also a very buggy year. And I think that probably has a lot of bugs anyway, but I’m just like all bugged out right now, and so I am just, not needing to do that this year. It didn’t feel good in my body

Kierre Childers: That’s fair. You gotta follow, you gotta listen to yourself for sure.

Amy Bushatz: Yeah. But I know you’re very passionate about that area and isn’t it funny how things that we do as we’re becoming ourselves and exploring who we are and what we wanna be in the world, and what we wanna do in the world, become sort of these pivotal landmarks that we want go back to and we think of so fondly, even if they were full challenges, even if they were hard. Even if they didn’t actually last that long, they seemed like they lasted forever. It’s why those periods after people go college after they get outta high school seemed so big and so long and like your whole life, even though looking back it was like three years.

Kierre Childers: Yeah.

Amy Bushatz: Yeah. Because it’s so foundational.

Kierre Childers: Yeah. I can definitely look back on my timeline of those pivotal moments for sure. And it, and that I think it really makes me appreciate where I am now. Like, oh, it was all working towards this even though I couldn’t see it then, you know, I feel like transition periods in life are so, can be so hard.

Amy Bushatz: Yeah. Yeah. And I love that for you, so many of these pivotal moments go back to being outside.

Where were the volcanoes you were guiding on?

Kierre Childers: So those were in Nicaragua.

Amy Bushatz: Yeah Yeah. Yeah. so, not in indiana.

Kierre Childers: Not in Indiana, yeah. Those were in Nicaragua.

Amy Bushatz: Yeah.

Kierre Childers: So that was a really, a really interesting experience too, to just be in outside of the United States, and outside in a totally different space, so.

Amy Bushatz: Yeah. Yeah. That’s so cool. So you said you came back to Palmer, you started this company. and it was a place that you wanted to be. How did you fall love with Palmer? and what’s your favorite thing about living here, about this area?

Kierre Childers: Yeah, I think. I think the question is how could you not fall in love with Palmer?

Amy Bushatz: That’s what I think, but know, joke that like the one person Chamber of Commerce. need dont need the actual chamber of commerce. We have me. me so.

Kierre Childers: Yeah, I agree, I feel like your Palmer enthusiasm is high. I think right up there with you for sure. Um,

Amy Bushatz: So are many people though, like is not like an uncommon thing. Yeah, we’d love it here. So why, like what, why do we love it?

Kierre Childers: Why do we love it? For me, I think there’s two things. It’s the community here is very special and then outdoor access. You we’ve got, you can drive 30 minutes in either direction and hit mountains or any, not either. Yeah. all of the directions. Yeah, all of the directions. Find mountains, see mountains, I mean, and the that. So it’s beautiful. It’s a beautiful place to live. great access and community are kind of the reasons why I think Palmer is so special.

Amy Bushatz: Yeah. Yeah. So what’s great about this is, I mean, we think that Palmer is the bees knees, this is the place where all this is. But the truth of matter is that these things can be found in ways in any place. That you can fall in love with a place wherever you are. And it doesn’t have be Palmer, Alaska. It shouldn’t be Palmer, Alaska for everyone. ’cause then it’d be like super crowded and we wouldn’t love it as much.

And people wanna come here, they definitely should. But falling in love with where you live and with the nature that you have around you is about being in the right place for you, whatever that means. And then taking the time to open your eyes and to look around and to see what it is that can be special about a place. Some of us don’t have the ability like pick up and move to Palmer, Alaska or to a place that we might think special. Maybe we are people who need to learn to like where we are for right now.

Whether that’s because that’s just how our life is. Or it’s a case of privilege for many people to be able to move. if you’re military family member or have a loved one in a job and you can’t just pick up and move, there’s lots of reasons you can’t go find the thing and you have to find the thing where you are. But so much of that is about perspective and about maturity and deciding that you’re gonna find that and doing the best with what you have.

Kierre Childers: Yeah.

Amy Bushatz: And we ended up here because we needed to move somewhere. We had been stationed at Fort Campbell, Kentucky. My husband got outta the military and it was time to go somewhere. And we picked somewhere that he could go to grad school and that’s how we ended up here. We moved here sight-unseen and living here was really hard to start with. Not because Palmer’s not great. We know it’s great, but because I needed to change my perspective. And find within myself the ability to settle down and to choose your hard and to deal with the hard that is present wherever you go.

Kierre Childers: Yeah. Yeah.

Amy Bushatz: And for us here, sometimes that hard looks like long, cold, dark winter. Sometimes it looks like windstorms. Sometimes it looks like a bad rain all season. Sometimes it looks like all of the bugs in the land at Nancy Lakes at the same time. Like some sort of bug convention.

Kierre Childers: Yeah, definitely.

Amy Bushatz: But you do the best with what you have. You listen to your body and then you use wherever you are to the best way you can.

Kierre Childers: Yeah.

Amy Bushatz: And I think that’s why Palmer is so special to both of us is because we are people who ended up someplace and then had the maturity to really lean into that and make the best of it and learn to love it in a way that I think it’s undeniable.

Kierre Childers: Yeah. I think for me, just to kind of piggyback on that, like the, that’s been such a wonderful lesson that Alaska has taught me and I think when I grew growing in Indiana, I really didn’t appreciate the nature and out outside stuff that was there. And now when I go home, the trees are totally different than Alaska. The water is totally different than Alaska. And I can, I look at it with my Alaska lens and think like, I’m really glad to live in Palmer. But there’s are special things here too.

Amy Bushatz: Yeah. yeah. Yeah. And that goes so well into what we’re gonna talk about today, which is helping locals lean into where they live. So you and I can consider ourselves locals here now, even though some people might disagree with that, and that is their prerogative. But I have been here seven winters guys.

Kierre Childers: Nice!.

Amy Bushatz: Yeah, yeah, yeah. I’m told that is the benchmark, so I’m gonna roll with it. Okay. I made it. I’m here.

Kierre Childers: Yeah.

Amy Bushatz: Lots of people are from somewhere and stay there like we’ve been talking about, and then have trouble recognizing and accessing the good things around them because they either didn’t grow up that way or they don’t know how, or it’s scary or it’s big, or they have physical limitations that they’re not sure how to move through. There are so many reasons.

So your business, Revel Treks and Tours really focuses on locals.

Kierre Childers: Yeah.

Amy Bushatz: And assisting them. So I wanna talk like, what inspired you to do that? what brought that as being a goal? Because we spend so much time helping outsiders like some thing. So what brought you to locals?

Kierre Childers: Yeah. I think I mean, lots of things, but for me, coming up to Alaska in 2015. looking back now that I’ve been here for a while, I can see how lucky that I was to find adventure buddies really early on. So there was a couple, my friends Amy and Ken that really took me under their wing when I landed in Palmer. And they just would take me outside with them on all these adventures. I was there, I was, third- wheeling all of their trips, trips, and they just would, you know, they’d take me to public use cabins, they’d take me backpacking, we’d go on ski trips and like, had they not been a part of my, initial Alaska experience, It would’ve been so hard. Like, and I know people have a hard time finding people to connect with outside so that I, there is a deep appreciation for , the friendship. And then working in tourism, it’s really in your face how much energy the tourism industry spends really giving visitors the experience of a lifetime. And we wanna show them all this Alaska stuff. And I love that about tourism and it’s a very enthusiastic and energetic industry in this state.

But the longer that I did it, the more I realized, wow, we really are missing this chance to connect locals to these same kinds of experiences. So maybe there’s a way that tourism can help support opportunities for locals to get outside and learn about these things and connect with the place that they call home. So that really was. I can’t say it was one moment that was like, oh, this is what it needs to be. It’s been a buildup of things. Yeah. So,

Amy Bushatz: Yeah what year did Revel start?

Kierre Childers: The Revel started in 2022. So this is the second of business.

Amy Bushatz: So how did, ’cause we really had a moment during 2020 where we realized, oh yeah, we have like stuff around us, so we can enjoy that. For people who maybe didn’t really lean into that, we joked about staycations during the recession, but then in 2020 it became your only option and all of a sudden you’re really using the parks and spaces and particularly outdoors. Where you live nationwide. This was a thing worldwide, this was a thing. I’m wondering how did that experience play into your decision to do this? Or maybe, or even just factor in at all to understanding that this was a challenge?

Kierre Childers: That’s a really great question. I. think it was just confirmation. Yeah. You know, that locals are interested. In getting outside. I think sometimes, especially having worked in an office job in, in Alaska before it could feel like, well, maybe people don’t wanna access this space. It’s like, no, they do. We just need more tools. We need to make more tools available so that they feel like they can do it. So.

Amy Bushatz: Yeah, because I don’t know about everywhere else, ’cause I didn’t live everywhere else during the pandemic, but here there was a lot of conversation about how locals had to save the day for our tourism industry during 2020 because outsiders weren’t coming.

Kierre Childers: Yeah.

Amy Bushatz: And so we, if you weren’t gonna spend money at the tourism business, who, what? And the tourism industry, I saw really leaned into go tour Alaska, be an Alaskan going to these places and be in Alaskan using these tourism services that are usually used by other people. And because partially, I think due to lack of other options, we saw that really explode. But the other thing that happened, I think then is that we also, and this also nationwide, People started using the spaces that they knew about. But alaska is humongous. Everywhere is humongous if you really think about it. Right? There are always lots of options. We don’t all need to park at the same exact trailhead ’cause that’s what we happen to know about.

Kierre Childers: Yeah.

Amy Bushatz: And what you are doing is you are helping locals peel back that and see what are my other options that maybe were a little too big or a little too unmapped. And that’s something I think that people can think about wherever they live, to peel back your perspective on where you live, using your nearby nature and saying, what is out here that I haven’t explored? Because it’s not the thing I already know about. Just like ask that question, what don’t I know about and what can I do here in way that is accessible to me with whatever challenges or privileges or whatever that I have going on, what can I do here that’s not the norm?

Kierre Childers: Yeah, that’s fair. I think for me, the, there’s been a real appreciation of those, the spaces that are close to me,

Amy Bushatz: Hmm.

Kierre Childers: You know, like, yeah, there’s some, the areas that I would say really that really got loved, when more locals were getting outside, it was like, oh, I don’t have to drive to Hatcher Pass, which, another recreation area not far from here, but I can walk. To the river park, which is a 10 minute walk from my house, and that’s a beautiful way to get outside that doesn’t require any significant, undertaking.

Yeah, I love that. That’s something we have talked about at my house this summer. Really with this idea of, hey, instead of like making this complicated, let’s just use our local parks. Like where you and I are sitting right now, this conversation would be somewhere we could come for a picnic. Like, let’s go to the lake down the street, instead of being like, let’s do this production. Because that really removes the stress of having to go and do something hard. You can, in, in some ways, like by widening your. zone of things that you’re thinking about, you are lowering the amount of stuff you have to do.

Yeah, totally.

Amy Bushatz: Because you’re like, okay, like the stress is gone.

Kierre Childers: Yeah.

Amy Bushatz: My opportunities are endless. So now I’m going to look a little bit closer into my zone instead of further away doing something that’s maybe harder to pack for, or when you’ve got kids, you just have like so much stuff and everyone forgets something and yeah.

Kierre Childers: Yeah I wonder if there’s like a ratio of effort and versus enjoyment, you know? And like more effort doesn’t always mean more. enjoyment.

Amy Bushatz: Like math and some graphs.

Kierre Childers: There’s be some data, you know a spreadsheet.

Amy Bushatz: I see this coming, we’re not really like a math show here.

Kierre Childers: Okay. Okay. Yeah, That’s fair. That’s fair.

Amy Bushatz: So like a words person. So we’re gonna need to leave the math behind.

Kierre Childers: Yeah, I’ll keep you posted.

Amy Bushatz: Thank You okay. You look into that, you get back to me. We’ll do another episode.

Kierre Childers: Yeah.

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Not knowing about place that you live or having the confidence or outdoor skills or a combination can be a problem for people too. And that’s not something that just exists in Alaska, of course. That’s an everywhere problem. Like so many things we’re talking about. When we outdoorsy type people live in very outdoorsy places, it can be easy to get a little blind and think that everybody likes going outside. and think that everybody has the skills or knows what to do or has the gear or whatever. So I’m wondering, when you started guiding, were you surprised by how many people didn’t really know that much about adventuring here in their local area?

Kierre Childers: Yeah, I, so I would say yes and no. I think the thing that surprised me was how many locals, people that had grown up here when I, if so when I say local, I mean like those that were born and raised in this area,

Amy Bushatz: Not you and I so much.

Kierre Childers: Yeah. I mean, I feel like we earned it now, you know?

Amy Bushatz: But not the seven winter the, the self-selecting alaskans.

Kierre Childers: The lifers.

Amy Bushatz: The people who grew up here.

Kierre Childers: The people that grew up here. I’ve had multiple community hikes where we go to a trail and they’re like, I didn’t know this existed. And that to me is surprising because I feel like I kind of operated under this assumption that if you grew up here, that you knew all the spaces that were available. I also feel like, you know, there’s things changed too. And so it’s totally fair that there might’ve been a new trail system develop and you just didn’t know about it. So that’s been somewhat surprising. yeah.

Amy Bushatz: What do you think it is about that, about being a lifer somewhere? Because I think a lot of people listening to this probably are lifers they live or have lived there so long that they’ve lost that, well, I don’t know. I don’t wanna make it sound like it’s something that bad that happened, they just, there’s not that curiosity- when you move somewhere new. Everything’s new. Right. And so it’s easy that they see things that you don’t know about because everything is something you don’t know about. And when you’re sat in a habit or in a place that you’ve been a long time, that becomes a lot harder just because you’re used to it.

So why do you think that people have that or don’t stop to pursue that before getting connected with you?

Kierre Childers: I think it’s hard

Amy Bushatz: It is hard.

Kierre Childers: Hard. It’s totally hard. that’s really what it boils down to. It’s really difficult to, you know, it’s back to that, like the effort versus enjoyment. You know, like it’s a lot harder to find new things to keep that curiosity alive. And you gotta really work at it. And I think besides my hometown, Palmer is longest place that I’ve lived. And so, I don’t know, in 20 years maybe it will also be hard for me. But I’m really, I really wanna keep that fire alive of staying curious and trying to find new spaces to get outside here and yeah. But I think it’s gonna take a lot of work. Yeah. Still very much in love still.

Amy Bushatz: Right.

Kierre Childers: But will that wane over time? I don’t know. I hope not, but i, I wanna keep working at it.

Yeah. It’s like a community of choice or family of choice versus just where you are. But I think that’s matter of perspective. Yeah.

Amy Bushatz: Anything can be your choice today. You can choose to spend time outside 20 minutes day if that’s what you wanna do. You can choose to spend time outside five minutes a day if that’s what you do. You can choose spend no time outside if that’s what you wanna do. And all comes down to having that intention, which we talk about a lot.

Mm-hmm.To be curious, to have experiences, to want to have experiences, to get past discomfort because trying new things is uncomfortable. Going outside is uncomfortable. Being outside without the puffy pants is super uncomfortable. Like

Kierre Childers: The puffy pants!

Amy Bushatz: The pants.

Kierre Childers: Yeah,

Amy Bushatz: The pants. You know, like there are uncomfortable things that we do. I think the first time you and I met in person was at your Christmas ski. And it was like a bajillion degrees below.

Kierre Childers: It was, that was, that was brutal!

Amy Bushatz: It was so cold that your hot chocolate in your super thermos was cold. Cold. It was cold. I was like, this is cool.

Kierre Childers: Yeah, cold. That was a hard was hard day to be outside for sure.

Amy Bushatz: But like a community thing. And I was like, I’m doing this, so help me God. And I put on my, christmas. hat with christmas lights. Yeah. People know I love hats.

Kierre Childers: Epic, it’s epic.

Amy Bushatz: Thank you. But it was very cold and it was very uncomfortable. Yeah. But being out there for you was a choice For me. It was a choice for everyone else who came, which was like a weird number of people, cause considering how cold it was, it was maybe five degrees below. It was so cold.

Kierre Childers: I, yeah. Five to 10 below it. It was not. It was pleasant,

Amy Bushatz: It was afrosty sort of night. all of that was a choice.

Kierre Childers: Yeah.

Amy Bushatz: And so I’m not saying people have to go ski at Christmas in a sparkly lit hat. You don’t have to do that. But what you do have to do is stay curious and stay open to deciding on that day if that’s something that suits you or meets your needs. And is available to you. because so much of this is individual too.

Kierre Childers: Yeah. Yeah. That’s a great point. I like the stay curious. That’s definitely a, yeah.

Amy Bushatz: What’s the biggest barrier you find for people who wanna head out on these hikes and these things that you do? And maybe describe what you do.

Kierre Childers: Oh, yeah.

Amy Bushatz: We’ve sort blown by that.

Kierre Childers: Yeah.

Amy Bushatz: So describe what you do. And, uh, and, and then tell us what like, barriers you find for people so that people listening to this can say, oh, I can overcome that.

Kierre Childers: So, so Revel is, uh, we’ve talked about like kind of the visitor guide services stuff, but then for locals, it’s, I kind of use the phrase “community education and connection to place is really what we’re trying to foster. And we do that through educational events. So we’ve hosted some hike and learn activities, teaching people about, edible plants in the area, mushrooms. We’ve also done community hikes, so we do a monthly ladies night outdoors. It’s a free hike for, women just to connect on local trails. We just started a community hike for 50 ish and older folks. We call that our seasoned hikers groups that fills up faster than anything else, which is adorable. And I love, and yeah, just all kinds of classes. Sometimes collaborate with other, like local nonprofits in the area. So I’ve hosted like a intro to backcountry skiing with the ski club, an avalanche awareness class with. Hatcher Pass Avalanche Center and yeah, just stuff like that. So that’s kind of the community arm of Revel and going back to that kind of phrase, the whole point is that community education and connection to place.

Amy Bushatz: , So when you have these folks who come on these tours and hikes with you, What are the barriers you see them overcoming or bringing to the table?

Kierre Childers: Yeah.

Amy Bushatz: Or reasons that they say they haven’t done this before, other than we just didn’t know about it.

Kierre Childers: Yeah. So two things that I hear frequently are don’t have adventure buddies to go out with

Amy Bushatz: So afraid of going alone.

Kierre Childers: Yeah. And I can totally relate to that. I mean, that was kind of my fear when I first showed up. And Alaska was, well, I need, I need people to do this with. So that is probably the most common phrase I hear. And then another thing is just feeling intimidated. And like that you don’t have enough skills to do this safely. And so that’s where that education comes into play

Amy Bushatz: Yeah

Kierre Childers: is really trying to I think there’s lot of, on the spectrum of knowledge, I feel like Alaska offers a lot of social opportunities for people who are kind of in the beginning stages of getting outside. And I feel like there’s a bucket of, of resources available for professionals. So if you wanna do that, for your career or summer job- but the middle part, the skill building part, and continued skill building, not just one class, but like a series of ways to help people build those those tools. That is a, I feel like that’s a hole here, and that’s just, we’re not talking research based, but anecdotally, in my conversations with people, I feel like that is, that’s a need and a want for locals, so.

Amy Bushatz: Or maybe people just don’t know where to look for that?

Kierre Childers: Fair.

Amy Bushatz: You know?

Kierre Childers: And it could totally exist and it could be off my, I mean, I don’t know everything.

Amy Bushatz: Yeah. Yeah, but I was just thinking like, how often do I talk to people who don’t know that our ski club offers?

Kierre Childers: Yeah.

Amy Bushatz: Ski lessons? Not just for, and they call them beginner lessons, but I mean, I’m in them and it’s been a couple years since I started doing that. But you don’t know what you don’t know.

Kierre Childers: Yeah.

Amy Bushatz: And so part of that community aspect that talking about is just sharing resources. It’s interesting that we live in such a technology age and it’s never been harder to out what’s going on.

Kierre Childers: I would almost argue more difficult. Yeah. like technology because

Amy Bushatz: So much is going on.

Kierre Childers: So you dont wanna scan 50, you don’t wanna read 50 newsletters to know like where to find the things you wanna do.

Amy Bushatz: Yeah.

Kierre Childers: So, yeah. that is, I’d say it’s definitely is a struggle.

Amy Bushatz: Absolutely. Yeah. Yeah. And I think it’s interesting that you said most of your, the things that fill up faster, fastest are the 55 plus tours and what that I just, that just speaks to me of this truth that the older you get, the more you understand, I think the value of community and that it’s okay to ask for help.

Kierre Childers: Yeah.

Amy Bushatz: And those are two things that I, that are hard in the hubris of youth. And are things that I find myself learning as I go around and around this world, and get older -that it’s super cool if you have the privilege to be able to afford it or kind of find affordable classes, those exist in most communities,

Kierre Childers: Yeah

Amy Bushatz: To say, I’m taking a lesson, y’all. I’m out here. I’m getting some help. I am having this person who is a bajillion years older than me teach me, first of all, literally school me like, you thought you were cool. No, you’re not cool. You’re this person who goes zipping down the trail. And and then actually school me

Kierre Childers: yeah.

Amy Bushatz: In how to be better. And it’s okay to do this all with friends, that it’s actually more valuable. There is value to going out, doing stuff solo. Lots and lots of value to that. But there’s equal value to doing things in community.

Kierre Childers: Yeah.

Amy Bushatz: With friends and finding that group of people who can be that community. And maybe that’s by taking the lesson. it sort of all goes together.

Kierre Childers: Totally, totally. Yeah. Yeah.

Amy Bushatz: The other part thing about this so it’s one thing to say, I’m gonna get in a plane and go on this adventure, but back where you live all the time. So like what we’re talking about today, being a local, it is hard to take the step to make that happen because you get complacent in your life and it’s hard to say. Okay. Like, I’m gonna take the time.

Kierre Childers: Yeah.

Amy Bushatz: To sign up for a class to carve an hour and a half, two hours, three hours out of my Saturday morning to go do this thing, to spend a little bit of money to put a priority on this. Like I’m willing to spend money to go on some adventure, in somewhere warm in January.

Kierre Childers: Mm-hmm.

Amy Bushatz: But it’s a much harder sell for me, for whatever reason to say I’m gonna go spend, way less money on a ski lesson or two. So that I have a skill that I can use every Saturday until die. Why is that?

Kierre Childers: Yeah. I don’t Why Do you have a theory.

Amy Bushatz: I have no theories. It just is,

Kierre Childers: It is, yeah. it’s so what’s interesting too, going back to your comment about how like, as you age, I, there’s maybe more of an appreciation for community, is that, it’s so clear to me here in Alaska, and maybe it’s in other places too, but I know because I’ve been here the longest. Is that the, those older folks, I think that’s okay to say, right?

Amy Bushatz: Yeah.

Kierre Childers: They wanna share, they wanna teach.

Amy Bushatz: Yes.

Kierre Childers: They wanna show you, they wanna mentor you. I mean, everywhere I’ve lived in Alaska, I’ve just been amazed at, the 70 year old woman who wants to take me on a hike and like talk to me about bald eagles or or whatever it is, like the passion is so strong. And the desire to teach, in my experience, the they wanna connect with withwith younger generations and share what they know.

Amy Bushatz: So how do we find these people

Kierre Childers: Hahah

Amy Bushatz: To be shared with?

Kierre Childers: I’m working so hard. I mean, like, you know, I, that’s like they, they’re in so many places. But, it.

Amy Bushatz: Is it joining these community groups? Is it saying, okay, what clubs, if I’m interested in gardening, do join the garden club? Because we can find our, let’s call them our elders. They’re who are willing to teach us in those spaces, in those community groups where they are already more likely than we are to be involved because they are of a generation that likes to show up at things where we, you and I are of a generation that, you know, suggesting that we record podcast person is like, mind blowing. Okay. Because our default is that we do things online virtually. Especially in the post covid world. think that’s really true a lot of people. In person clubs had a really hard time rallying after Covid, and part of that was because the younger members stopped showing up. And the older members are all, there left. So maybe it’s like going to these clubs and like taking that step to join these community groups and see what’s out there that matches your passion point and something that you wanna learn. Birders are great for this. Birders love doing things in groups and together. It’s unreal almost.

Kierre Childers: Yeah. I will do that. I mean I’m not tapped into a birding group, but,yeah, could see it.

But you cannot bird virtually, right?


Amy Bushatz: It’s like an in-person situation right? So birders are great for this. Master gardeners love to teach people how to garden. Just things are coming to mind while we’re talking here. We have our ski club. Yeah. Where the illustrious Ed Strabel loves to help everybody ski and would really like it if you came and helped him pick up rocks on the ski trail.

Kierre Childers: Right.

Amy Bushatz: So there’s a give and take here, by being involved, you are giving yourself too, but you’re also getting this knowledge and getting this ability to really understand what’s around you and enrich your own life and make your own outdoor experiences better.

Yeah. can you give us three or four tips for learning about your local outdoor space and getting out there no matter who you are? I mean, we’ve talked about connecting with local groups, so maybe what are stuff?

Kierre Childers: Yeah, so this the, so in my experience, I’d say these things have been super helpful for me. So, one thing is to start small.

Amy Bushatz: Mm-hmm.

Kierre Childers: And then if you’re on the hunt for adventure buddies, Then start smaller, start even smaller. Because I’ve had a lot of bad experiences where, you know, you find this person now that you’re like, sweet, we’re gonna, we can hike together. This is gonna be beautiful.

And then you plan a five day backpacking trip or whatever it is, and you learn that they never backpacked before and they show up in jeans and you know, new boots

Amy Bushatz: Wait, is this like the voice of experience that I hear?

Kierre Childers: Yes. So, and you’d think I’d learn it after that one, I would’ve known like, this is a bad idea. But, yeah. So start small and when yeah. you, it’s, yeah, you wanna find the people. So yeah, start small and with adventure buddies, start even smaller.

Another thing that I constantly have to remind myself is to be patient. And I there was this realization last fall, Amy and Ken, so like, my mentors and now like go-to adventure buddies. They, we did a trip to get to the Arctic. That was like, a week or so, and, I looked back at the, how long I’ve been adding tools my toolbox to get to where felt okay to do that trip, and it was 10 years. 10 years of building skills, of being intentional about I’m gonna, practice doing this. I’m gonna build, start with an overnight, then do a three day, then do a five day, and it took a decade? Like, you know, like on what planet is that, can I even wrap my head around? This is something that’s taken 10 years to do, but it’s just, the reality is it just takes time to build those skills. And there that’s okay. And so I just need to, for me, just reminding myself be patient, it’s like a long, I’m in it for the long game. That’s okay.

And then I would say, another thing that’s been helpful for me is not being, don’t be afraid to learn along the way. So I’ve definitely made some mistakes and I think a younger version of myself would’ve been so afraid of messing up that

Amy Bushatz: mm-hmm.

Kierre Childers: I wouldn’t have gone outside. And I can appreciate now that I don’t know all the things, but I’m, that’s okay. And I’m gonna learn something. And I, you try to, when you’re getting outside, try to manage risk in the best way possible, but know that, that that it’s okay if you make some mistakes. And I think a big thing of my trips now is incorporating like a lessons learned. and kind of hashing out what would I do better?

Amy Bushatz: Yeah.

Kierre Childers: Or differently next time. Yeah. So.

Amy Bushatz: Yeah, I think it’s interesting what you said about the 10 years and being patient. Yeah. A lot of that isn’t just, when you say skills, you could talk about practical skills, could talk about,outdoor, actual hands-on skills. Skills. But so much of that is too, I think, is skills within yourself. And learning how to work with your own body. One of our previous guests, also Alaskan, Sarah Histand talks a lot about working with your nervous system and understanding how to be in partnership with your, what she says, animal body, this physical body that is living and breathing and working with your mind and how all your nervous system and how all these things work together and how you have to understand how to be gentle with that. And so, so much of that skill building is teaching yourself to feel safe in situations. And that’s a pace that’s different for everybody.

Kierre Childers: Totally. Totally.

Amy Bushatz: So for me, I cannot just go and learn how to ski and then go off a big mountain. ‘ I get so bent outta shape, like in my head about it. I have to take baby steps and then go eat a snack and then go back the next day. And especially if I have a tough time there, that just wears out my nervous system so quickly. I like, let’s say I bite it several times, nothing super painful, nothing catastrophic, but it’s now making me nervous. And now in my head I’m like, oh my God, I’m gonna fall off this cliff. Probably not right? But it’s like, it, like it feels very catastrophic. I have to come back later, like not that day, not go back up to the top of the mountain and try again. I have to come back later, but the longer I do it, the sooner later is. So now it’s okay, like maybe later is next week instead of next year. Yeah maybe later is I’m willing to try this again. Instead of saying, proclaiming, I’m literally never doing don’t ask me. And so it’s really just building that skill box that toolbox over however long it takes you. There is no right amount of time, but on the other hand of that is, Working towards it. You can’t just say like, okay, that’s it for me. We don’t ski anymore. I learned the hard way that you can’t go on the record saying that ‘ cause you’ll regret it later, gonna eat eat those words because I really enjoy skiing now. But I’ve definitely been like, I am never doing that again. Don’t ask me.

Kierre Childers: Yeah.

Amy Bushatz: So I had to try. I had to get out there and say, yes, I’m willing to take this risk. Incremental baby steps. I’m not going to the top of something right away, but I’m willing to take these incremental baby step risk in a way that feels okay me, while also still feeling a little scary.

Kierre Childers: Yeah.

Amy Bushatz: Yeah. And it’s hard.

Kierre Childers: It is hard. Yeah. I really appreciate that your comment about how it’s per personal, You know, timeline is different because that is so true. I mean, what took me 10 years could be maybe five years for somebody or 15 for somebody else, and it, yeah. It’s so personal and so do what makes sense for you, I think is a big , yeah a big thing.

Amy Bushatz: Yeah ooh. Tough stuff though. Could we have guidebook?

Kierre Childers: For all the things though. I mean.

Amy Bushatz: For literally everything. Like just standard issue.

Kierre Childers: Yeah.

Amy Bushatz: Okay. So we end our episodes, listening to our guests talked about one of their favorite outdoor memories. So if there’s like a moment outside or something particularly special, even if you have to pick from a bunch of ’em that you love to go back to and visualize, can you describe where are you and what you’re doing?

Kierre Childers: Yeah. So I’m gonna take you to Willow. So it was my first winter in Alaska and had a lot of doubt. You know what- as soon as it starts getting cold and dark, you’re like, what am I doing? Like, well, like, can I do this? And willow, we had our first big snow and I was walking out on the trails. Willow, in the summertime, it’s a lot of swamp, it’s a lot of lakes, it’s a lot of, you know, streams and water. And so mini trails in the summer are totally inaccessible, but in the winter everything freezes. So I walk out, the back door and I’m kind of like instantly in this spruce tree wonderland that’s just blanketed in snow and it feels like you’re like walking in a whisper is kind of how I would it. And it’s, for me, that moment was an I can do this moment that it’s gonna be okay. And I think I can, I think me and Alaska, we’re gonna do just fine.

Amy Bushatz: Mm-hmm.

Kierre Childers: So that is a, I think we’ve talked about kind of pivotal moments, and my outside story, and that was a big one for me. That was just like, I, I can do this.

Amy Bushatz: Yeah, Kierre, thank you so much for joining us on Humans Outside today. We really appreciate your time on this verifiably beautiful day,

Kierre Childers: Beautiful yeah. Thanks so much for having me. I really appreciate the opportunity to be outside with you.

Amy Bushatz: That’s a wrap on this episode of Humans Outside. But hey, I need your help. Enjoy this show? Leave a five star rating or review or vote wherever you get your podcasts. It makes me feel good, but it also helps others find a show too. Now, go get outside. Until next time, we’ll see you out there.

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