Sweaty, Dirty, Happy...and Smiling
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Sweaty, Dirty, Happy...and Smiling

Featured blog post by 2018 Brand Ambassador: Alice Kao

Sea to Summit Brand Ambassador Alice Kao recently joined the Sea to Summit team for an REI Outessa event at Squaw Valley, California. The event was designed to encourage women to become more familiar with outdoor gear and outdoor pursuits, by creating a supportive environment with seminars and activities led by women.

Here are some of Alice’s impressions from the event:

I wasn't sure what to expect out from my first REI Outessa event - being a Brand Ambassador, I was mostly expecting to help out with the classes that Sea to Summit was presenting, to improve some of my backcountry skills and possibly explore a new activity I had never tried. However at the end of the weekend, I found myself feeling truly inspired by many of the strong, passionate and kind women I encountered and feeling empowered with a strong sense of belonging to such a wonderful and tight knit community. 

From the very first day, I instantly noticed that everyone was incredibly friendly and open. My introverted self normally needs to work up quite a bit of courage to go up to people and start up a conversation, but the environment at Outessa felt so inviting and welcoming, that I had no trouble meeting and connecting with the women at my lunch table or in class. I felt like we all shared a mutual appreciation for the outdoors and a strong sense of camaraderie, making it easy to talk about anything and everything in a nonjudgmental setting.

As a self-improvement junkie, the highlight of the weekend was being a part of classes that I never would have sought out on my own. I expanded my backcountry cooking skills with Dirty Gourmet, learned how to use a Leatherman multi-tool to its full potential, and even dabbled in some more exotic activities like acro yoga, SUP, and mountain biking. Even though I've been backpacking for 7+ years, I learned so many things that I wished I knew when I first started, like wilderness survival and modular packing.

One of my proudest accomplishments of the weekend was during my mountain biking class. Biking has always been something that made me nervous, but I figured this was the best setting to get outside of my comfort zone and learn the basics. In a small class setting, our two instructors covered the fundamentals to build our confidence, then we all went on a short, exhilarating trail ride. It filled my heart seeing how supportive the women were, cheering for each other and shouting words of encouragement on the uphill climb.

Being surrounded by so many passionate and inspiring women has reminded me how proud I am to be an adventurous woman in such a supportive community, and as we all go our own ways after the event, I only hope that we can continue carrying forward the same sense of understanding and encouragement for one another that was so prevalent the entire weekend. 

I learned a lot at Outessa: I acquired some practical skills (thanks to the presenters from several outdoor brands including Sea to Summit and the Dirty Gourmet), and I discovered that everyone has a place in the outdoor world.

One thought on “Sweaty, Dirty, Happy...and Smiling

  1. avatar LeAnn Battle Laridon says:

    I also attended the REI Outessa event in Squaw Valley. What a great trip with wonderful women (from young to not so young) from all over the country. I, too, felt an instant camaraderie with people and felt at home right away. Thank you Sea to Summit for the nice bags and your wonderful class. I hope to attend another Outessa event in the future!!

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