Meet our Shoestring Adventures Trip Leaders, the real life superheroes who make up our family.
Shoestring Adventures Trip Leader: Heather
Canoga Park, CA
Real life superpower:
Favorite Outdoor Skill to Teach:
Tell us about yourself!
I grew up in Canoga Park, CA, the San Fernando Valley. I love exploring and traveling to different places, and I also love coming back to beautiful, sunny California! Apart from being outdoors, I also enjoy spending time with my family and friends, drinking a good cup of coffee or a glass of craft beer (bourbon-aged barrel is my favorite right now), and going on some type of new adventure! Whether that’s exploring a new area, going to a concert, or spontaneously jumping in the car and driving to wherever the road takes me!
I currently work as a Residence Director at a university, and I am aspiring to work full time as a Life Coach who offers healing and rejuvenating outdoor activities to others. Being in the outdoors is very life-giving for me – one of the most meaningful trips I’ve been on is backpacking the John Muir Trail. I would love to tell you more about it if you’d like! I am so thankful to be apart of the Shoestring Adventures family. I’m looking forward to getting to know you and sharing my love of the outdoors with you.
When did you first discover your love for the outdoors?
I first discovered my love for the outdoors as a child. My parents would take my siblings and me camping at least twice a year. We would go to a different campsite every time. While camping, I vividly remember going fishing with my dad. My sisters and brother would get bored quickly, so they would go back to the campsite with my mom, and I would get to stay with my dad. It was a very special time, just me and him sitting at the lake with our fishing poles in peaceful stillness.
During this time, he would share with me stories about his childhood, an array of different life experiences, his fears and his hopes – it was the only undisturbed time I remember getting with my dad as a child. I loved the outdoors for this reason. I recognized at an early age that being outdoors provided an intentional space away from distractions and the busyness of life to connect with others in a deep and meaningful way.
What do you love about leading Shoestring Adventures trips?
What I love about leading Shoestring Adventures trips is the opportunity to live out both of my passions – my love for people and my love for the outdoors! The opportunity to create experiences for others to step into the outdoors to experience, enjoy and learn new skills, build connections and share meaningful experiences, and introduce and frame all the things nature has to offer.
How do you spend your time when you’re not leading Shoestring Adventures?
It depends on the type of week. If it was a really busy, full week, I would be backpacking solo on an unexplored trail, finding refreshment in solitude in the outdoors. If it was a slower week, I would have a lot of energy and desire to be with my family and friends exploring a new trail, enjoying a cup of coffee or glass of craft beer, hanging out at the beach, going to a concert, making dinner, the list goes on and on!
What is your favorite piece of gear?
Haha! As simple as it may sound, I would say a Camelback – it would be such a pain to constantly be taking off my pack to get to that water bottle!
What advice do you have for first-time campers who want to get outdoors?
Bring some good food! When I first started camping, I thought I needed to bring “survivor food,” meaning trail mix, beef jerky, dried fruit, etc. On my first backpacking trip, I seriously cried on the trail eating trail mix because that’s all I brought for lunch – a week’s worth of trail mix! Oh, memories. Then I realized, “Wait! I can bring whatever I want!” It completely changed up my camping game!
What do you hope Shoestring Warriors will learn from you?
The rejuvenating and healing aspects of what being in the outdoors can bring for us if we choose to walk into nature with a purpose. I went on a solo backpacking trip on the John Muir Trail this past summer. I chose to go solo to intentionally remove myself from the busyness, distractions, and noise to be out in the peace and beauty of nature and intentionally walk out a number of painful past experiences, fears, and insecurities – weight I wasn’t meant to carry. When I was out in the Sierras, I encountered something bigger than myself – I was being present, I was able to listen, I was traveling with people I would have never met otherwise, I gained confidence, and I learned things about myself I didn’t even know were there. My hope is to authentically share my experience with others and to present the healing, confidence building and rejuvenating aspects that being in the outdoors can bring to others. It feels too big to keep inside!
Who’s someone who has inspired you? Tell us why.
The most influential person in my life has been my mentor. I could go on and on about her. During a time in which I was searching for self-understanding, she guided, walked alongside and encouraged me as I invited God in and took the needed steps to explore and understand the depths of my story, even and especially the really hard places, to come to an awareness, acceptance, appreciation and love for myself and my calling, which in turn has affected the way I view love and appreciate God, myself, others, the way I view life in such a beautiful, purposeful and meaningful way.
The perfect s’more?
Definitely a S’more with Reese’s!
Follow more of Heather’s adventures on Instagram!