We’re teaming up with AFK participants to get the lowdown on our BAWT signature trips. Get inspired by individuals who have already fundraised their way to adventure and made a direct impact on Bay Area youth. Andrea – on top of being a BAWT Board Member – has gone on many AFK trips over the years! From Mount Shasta to Half Dome, read up on her experiences and advice on signing up for a BAWT signature trip.
Read more about Andrea’s trips and start planning your first AFK adventure by registering here.
Share with our audience a little bit about yourself and/or your adventure team.
I’ve had the pleasure of participating in four separate AFK trips (Half Dome, Shasta, Baker and Alta Peak) through my employer, CSAA Insurance Group. I’m originally from Ohio and had little to no exposure to hiking or the outdoors until I moved to California four years ago and got involved with AFK. All the trips were so different, but the opportunity to see so many beautiful places and to bond with coworkers outside of the normal work setting was amazing. The trips really inspired me to take any opportunity I could to get on in nature and take advantage of all that California and the West has to offer. They’ve shaped how I spend my free time now and most importantly, given me exposure to all the great services that BAWT provides the local community.
Q: Share with us why you’re interested in BAWT’s work.
During my time in the corporate world, I’ve had the opportunity to volunteer with many different organizations that operate in the educational space providing services to low income and underserved communities. It was really eye opening to me early on in my career how many things that I had growing up that I took for granted and that as an adult, I can give back by making sure that today’s kids have the chance to have these experiences. I can also remember particularly on my Half Dome trip, just being in complete and total awe of how beautiful Yosemite was and what an amazing impact that trip on me – it struck me that if a trip like that can have such an impact on an adult, what could it do for a child or teenager? I knew at that point that I wanted to get more involved with BAWT and support their mission in any way that I could.
Q: How did you hear about Adventures for Kids and what made you register?
I heard about AFK through a coworker, who was at that time an Advisory Board member at BAWT. He spoke with such passion about the trips and I remember being envious of the pictures that he shared from previous adventures. I also love the idea of a challenge and pushing myself physically, so I was all for signing up.
Q: What adventure are you going on or did you complete?
I’ve previously participated in trips to Half Dome, Mt. Shasta, Mt. Baker and Alta Peak. All were fantastic trips and very different. I’m unfortunately sitting out this year’s trips as we’re expecting our first child later this spring, but am already eyeing the Grand Canyon trip for 2022.
Q: How are you (or how did you) train for your adventure? Any interesting stories to share around training?
The trips themselves were all different and challenging in their own way. I can remember the intensity of the Shasta and Baker trips learning how to glissade and navigate snow hiking. I contrast that with the beauty of Yosemite and Half Dome and the serenity of Alta Peak in Sequoia National Park where it literally felt like we had the entire park to ourselves. A couple of moments that really stick out are watching the sunrise over the top of Half Dome after navigating the cables and hiking in the dark after an alpine start on Baker, only to turn around as the sun rose and gasping at the view halfway up the mountain.
Q: What is something you learned from your experience with AFK (whether you’ve completed a trip or not)?
When I first started out, I legitimately had no idea what I was doing. I’m a former long distance triathlete who loves to run and cycle, so I was certain that hiking would be no big deal for me. I think my first hike was in a pair of cross trainers that I used for weight lifting (while they did the trick for that first hike, I would recommend that approach!). I quickly learned that hiking was a much different challenge, but one that I equally enjoyed. It’s a different pace and allows you to take in so much more. I started off slowly but kept at it, increasing distance and the weight of my pack every week. My best pieces of advice are to read articles or talk to someone who is experienced that can guide you through what equipment to utilize, make sure and train with a weighted pack if you’re planning to do a trip where you’ll be carrying a lot of gear, and ALWAYS carry more water than you think you need!
Q: What’s been your experience with fundraising for AFK?
The biggest thing I learned is how awe inspiring nature can be and the serenity associated with being outdoors. Growing up, I always wanted to visit cities and experience the fast paced environment there. Nature often offers the complete opposite to that and as I’ve gotten older, I’ve learned how wonderful it can be to just slow down and enjoy the beauty of it.
Q: What advice would you give to someone considering signing up for AFK?
I remember thinking when I signed up for my first AFK trip that the fundraising goal at the time seemed daunting. In reality, it really wasn’t. I was able to pretty easily meet my fundraising target after reaching out to friends and family, posting on social media and through coordinated efforts from my group of coworkers at CSAA who were participating. Once people heard about the mission statement of BAWT and the work that they do, most everyone was eager to donate.
Q: Any other information about you or your team or your experience that you’d like to share?
I really can’t say enough about how rewarding doing the AFK trips have been. Not only have I had the chance to see so many wonderful places, but I’ve also made lifelong friends while having the opportunity to support an organization that does so much for the community it serves.