Introducing ACK’s New Social Media Coordinator, Devyn Stewart

One of my earliest memories is waking up in a tent and discovering the freshly fallen snow on the ground. Since I grew up in San Diego this experience Screen Shot 2015-09-30 at 3.58.41 PMwas such a shock — I don’t think I even really knew snow was a real thing at that point. Exposure to camping at an early age shaped my love of the outdoors. My dad made an effort for us to go camping at least once a month so we could explore the diverse California landscapes. We’d regularly take road trips up the beautiful coastal Highway 1, explore the deserts of Borrego, and enjoy the gorgeous Sierra Nevada Mountains.

Growing up on the beach really led me to develop a passion for all watersports. I was on my high school’s surf team, would regularly kayak and snorkel in La Jolla, and even had the chance to take an epic deep sea fishing trip off the coast of Baja California. When the time to go to college rolled around, I couldn’t imagine a life outside of San Diego and was thrilled to attend the University of San Diego. I thought marine biology would be my thing — I had an awesome internship with the Scripps Institute of Oceanography where my job was to analyze humpback whale calls collected from the Sea of Cortez. While this was a really neat opportunity (how many people can say their first real job was listening to whales all day?) I learned that a marine biologist’s life was a little too focused on the “sciencey” stuff in the lab rather than jetting off to beautiful beaches and snorkeling all day.

IMG_2196Inspired by someone I met in Austin who was a professional rock climbing, mountaineering, backpacking, mountain biking, and all around badass guide I learned you could actually get paid to be outside doing something you love and started hunting for a new job. He suggested whitewater rafting guiding in Colorado since it’s an easier one to break into — companies expect you to have no idea what you’re doing and really emphasize training before you’re taking clients out on the water.

While browsing for jobs, I couldn’t believe my luck, there was one titled: “Go Whitewater Rafting and Write About It”. A whitewater rafting outfitter was looking for someone to help out with their Social Media Marketing, so I called the owner up that day, submitted my application, and within a few weeks found myself counting down the days until my move to Buena Vista, Colorado. There was a huge risk involved with this. In fact, my roommate thought I was crazy for wanting to take a big paycut to live in a trailer park with a bunch of guides and work a seasonal job, but I felt this was too good of an opportunity to turn down. I later learned the trailer park was a huge perk too, most whitewater rafting companies don’t provide any housing so their employees are expected to live out of a tent all summer.

Screen Shot 2015-09-30 at 4.11.53 PMWhen I got to Colorado, I found myself immersed in a whole new world. I had never been whitewater rafting before, but that quickly changed as I took on the class V rapids of the Numbers my second day in town (for context to how insane this was, that highly technical stretch of river is where Olympic level whitewater kayakers train). Fortunately, I loved it and couldn’t be happier with my decision to pursue my passions.

You know that badass guide I met in Austin? Well, he’s also my boyfriend and was working in Colorado too this past summer. When our jobs came to an end, we both had our hearts set on moving to Austin. There’s no way I’d survive a life of 11 degree temperatures and regular bouts of blizzards if I had stayed in Buena Vista, Colorado for the winter. However, compared to Colorado, the outdoors scene in Austin isn’t quite popping — I had no idea what I would do next. I like to think there’s some Karmic force out there that rewarded me for taking a risk and lead me to ACK, but one way or the other, I heard about the opening here for a Social Media Coordinator. After visiting ACK’s headquarters and meeting with their awesome marketing team, I  knew ACK was the place for me. There’s a great culture and a big emphasis on encouraging employees to take advantage of the amazing  ACK resources (hello, warehouse full of sweet gear!) and get outside. I’m really looking forward to engaging with the ACK community and inspiring others to do what they love as they explore the outdoors.

Devyn, Social Media Coordinator