Have you ever wanted to try a new activity like rock climbing, hiking in the mountains, or backcountry skiing? Did you feel overwhelmed with knowing where to start? What gear you might need? Who to contact about certain information? Cairn Outdoor Guides (COG) is a startup company that specializes in crafting adventures for people based on their interests and abilities. With the support of a knowledgeable guide, individuals have the opportunity to try out a new activity or explore a new location safely and with expert leadership. We have found that when we alleviate some of those initial concerns, we can help build the confidence and knowledge of individuals and increase the chances that they will try new things and participate in outdoor activities in the future.
The many benefits of not only spending time outside, but doing so in the companionship of others, are apparent on our guided adventures. Social interactions are a very important component of the experience, whether with a guide or with other participants in the group. Guides experience these benefits as well, and often come home with inspiring stories to tell about their clients. Social interactions, even among the most introverted people, have shown to help reduce stress through the release of various neurotransmitters, fight neurodegenerative diseases such as Alzheimer’s Disease, and improve overall well-being among individuals, regardless of age (1-4).
Outdoor recreation has many obvious physical health benefits, but activities in the outdoors have many benefits for mental health as well. For example, adolescents with Attention-Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder experience milder symptoms when they play in an outdoor setting(5). Veteran's participation in outdoor recreation corresponds with higher well-being (6). Providing access to nature can also help lower rates of crime, substance abuse, and help individual’s cope with psychological trauma (7-11). First Descents was a group that has even seen these effects in young adult cancer patients. First Descents incorporated outdoor experiences early in the patient’s treatment and as a result saw lower rates of depression, increased self-esteem, and increased body image (12-13).
The Japanese have a term, “Shrinn-yoku” that means “taking in the forest atmosphere” or “forest bathing”. This term was developed in the 1980’s and has become a cornerstone in preventative health care and healing in Japanese medicine. One of the goals of Cairn Outdoor Guides is to make outdoor activities more available to a wider population of people. Whether it be going for a hike, learning how to rock climb, or going backcountry skiing, we want to improve access to the outdoors.
Some of the main barriers that we face in providing these resources to the greater community include lack of accessibility, inexperience or lack of knowledge, financial restrictions, safety concerns, and misconceptions about the necessary skills to participate or get started with an activity (14). These barriers are most pronounced to women, African Americans, and people ages 13-24, who are among the least represented within the outdoor recreation industry (14-15).
At Cairn Outdoor Guides, our primary goal is not only to support individuals in accessing the outdoors, but in receiving the physical and mental health benefits of outdoor recreation and human connection. We are in the process of developing an app that will help address and overcome some of the barriers of accessibility by providing the community with affordable means to connect with local outdoor experts and enthusiasts. Using our passion and expertise, guides craft adventures catered toward individuals’ abilities and interests through the COG platform. With the development of our app, we plan to expand our network throughout the country, and eventually throughout the world. Additionally, the outdoor recreation industry is one of the most powerful economic sectors in the United States, last year generating 59.2 billion dollars in state and local tax revenue (16). The economic benefits would also prove to be beneficial as locals are more likely to refer clients to local businesses. This in turn helps boost and support local businesses clients may have otherwise not known about. We also believe this platform could eventually be used by healthcare providers and outpatient clinics to refer nature and outdoor recreation for individuals experiencing mental or physical health problems. Outdoor recreation is both a cost-effective preventative medicine as well as an active treatment for mental and physical health issues. Cumulatively, the COG platform poses significant benefits for individual’s health, local commerce, and overall improvement of local communities.
Our mission is to make access to outdoor recreation activities simple and affordable for our clients to promote mental and physical health, build self-confidence, and overall increase the nation's engagement with the Great Outdoors. During an experience with Cairn Outdoor Guides clients learn more about safety, common practices, preparation, fun tips, and ultimately how to make the most out of their future adventures. We expect that after a guided experience with us, clients will feel more confident in their own abilities and feel driven to pursue more adventures for years to come.
COG is a startup that has primarily been using money raised through guided adventures to fund the initial creation of an app and cover legal fees. Up until now, COG has managed to keep expenses relatively low, however, to develop the best product available for our clients, and to have the capability to expand our vision, we need your help. COG has started this fundraiser primarily to assist with app development costs, community outreach, legal fees, and the continuing ability to provide high-quality services to our clients.
We have a dream to leave a legacy and a desire to create sustainable change in our world. Become a part of our story. Make your mark on the world by contributing to something groundbreaking that not only has potential to impact you, but future generations around the world. We deeply appreciate all donations. No amount is too small because every dollar is a building block!
Our goal is to raise $10,000. This amount would help us to successfully complete our app development, cover legal fees and improve access for those facing barriers to outdoor experiences. If we reach our goal, you will have helped contribute to a substantial change for the good in our world and for those in the future. We need your help to make our dream a reality!
Share the link, inspire others to get involved and do it often. Let's use social media to help this campaign go viral within our circles of influences and across the web!
Feel free to check out our website to book an adventure to help support our cause at www.cairnguides.com or follow us on Instagram to see what we've been up to https://www.instagram.com/cairnguides/?hl=en
Thank you so much for your reading, sharing, and supporting!
The Cairn Outdoor Guides Team
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11. DeMille, S., Tucker, A., Gass, M., Javorski, S., VanKanegan, C., Talbot, B., & Karoff, M. (2018). The effectiveness of Outdoor Behavioral Healthcare with struggling adolescents: A comparison group study. Child and Youth Service Review, 88, 241-248. doi: 10.1016/j.childyouth.2018.03.015
12. Rosenberg, Robin S. et. al. “An Outdoor Adventure Program for Young Adults with Cancer: Positive Effects on Body Image and Psychosocial Functioning.” Journal of Psychosocial Oncology. 2014. 32:622-636 85
13. Zebrack, B. et. al. “First Descents, an adventure program for young adults with cancer: who benefits?” Support Care in Cancer. Published Online: June, 2017. DOI 10.1007/s00520-017-3792-7
14. Burns, Robert C.; Covelli, Elizabeth; Graefe, Alan. 2008. Outdoor recreation and nontraditional users: results of focus group interviews with racial and ethnic minorities. In: Chavez, Deborah J.; Winter, Patricia L.; Absher, James D., eds. Recreation visitor research: studies of diversity. Gen. Tech. Rep. PSW-GTR-210. Albany, CA: U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service, Pacific Southwest Research Station. 123-137. Chapter 11.
15. The Outdoor Industry Association. (2018). 2018 Outdoor Recreation Participation Report. Referenced from https://outdoorindustry.org/resource/2018-outdoor-participation-report/
16. The Outdoor Industry Association. (2017). 2017 The Outdoor Recreation Economy Report. Referenced from https://outdoorindustry.org/resource/2017-outdoor-recreation-economy-report/