Drum Roll Please!
Here at Bold Earth Command Central, we’re delighted to be welcoming a new face to the leadership team. Maren Helfrich is an old friend of Bold Earth, but she’ll be joining us in her new role as Program Manager and we’re so glad she’s here!
Hello! It is a curious and sometimes intimidating thing to introduce oneself. As I’m writing this I’m thinking of all of the introduction circles I’ve been a part of at different points in my life. I have the standard things I say, and I usually don’t deviate too much from my script. For instance: my name is Maren, I’m from Virginia, and internally, I feel my age is somewhere between 72 and 85. My fun fact is that I’ve been knitting an 11 foot long blanket since 2016. Without more time spent together these standard facts read pretty flat. So rather than leave it at that, I’ll give a better glimpse into why I chose to work for Bold Earth.
(Spoiler alert! It’s because I believe in what we do.)
I was a camp kid growing up. In addition to summer swim league, I went to some sort of sleep away camp every summer from the time I was 8 until I graduated high school. What started as 2-3 nights turned into 2-3 weeks and expanded from trips an hour from home to excursions to Germany, Malawi, and all over the Eastern United States. I thrived with these adventures. I started businesses and took on jobs to fund the adventures. They were so much of what brought me joy in adolescence.
It wasn’t until I attended Virginia Tech that I was fully introduced to the outdoors. The Appalachian mountains in southwest Virginia is where I fell in love with hiking, learned about backpacking, and started integrating those activities into my daily routine. After I graduated with a degree in hospitality and tourism management, I worked as the membership director and then special events director at a local country club. I would often go hiking in the mornings before work, backpacking on my days off, and would generally spend as much time outside as I could.
During this time I also found the work of Mary Oliver. She quickly became one of my favorite poets. She speaks often in her work about attentiveness. “How to be idle and blessed.” She challenges, “What will you do with your one wild and precious life.”
I left my job at the country club to pursue a more passion-filled life, where I could be constantly challenged and forced to learn and grow. A life of adventure, filled with appreciation for the natural world around me and the kindness of friends and strangers. I wanted a life where my lungs were full and my limbs were sore and I could live an existence that was filled with experiences that cultivated fun stories and memories.
Since then I have tutored students and enjoyed playing games and living in worlds of their imagination. I have worked as a field guide in wilderness therapy and spent more of my nights under the stars than under a roof while living in community with those kids. I have spent time working with women at a therapeutic wellness program and shared in countless moments of mindfulness and gratitude there. Each of these places valued the idea of living in the present. They gave me an opportunity to practice and teach mindfulness skills, communication and conflict resolution, and share my love of the outdoors with others.
While in another transition of sorts, a friend introduced me to Bold Earth. I was fortunate to be brought on with them to work a school program in North Carolina and to spend part of my summer on the staff team leading our Colorado Discovery program.
During my summer with Bold Earth, I found that the company ran on values I hold dear. They encourage all of their students and staff to live a life of adventure and fun. I especially appreciate that Bold Earth fosters an experience where students can step away from screens so they can connect with those around them and with the grass, sand, or rocks under their feet. To me, that is the embodiment of living a “wild and precious life” and I can’t think of anything much better.
I have joined the team full time now as a program manager working on some of our domestic and international trips. It’s an opportunity to combine my background in hospitality with my passion for adventure and the outdoors. I’m so thrilled to continue to be curious, explore the world, build relationships, and pursue dreams with Bold Earth. I intend to live in the most big, bold, and brave way I can imagine, and I hope my work behind the scenes allows students to do the same.