Welcome to 180 Degrees Outloud, an upcoming series on Outdoor Minded Mag where we ask outdoor minded folks essential questions about their travels, their insights, and their lives. They get 180 words to answer, giving us a full 180 degree spectrum of different view points and perspectives.

Today, I have the opportunity to introduce you to First Descents which offers young adult cancer fighters and survivors a free outdoor adventure experience designed to empower them to climb, paddle and surf beyond their diagnosis, defy their cancer, reclaim their lives and connect with others doing the same.

I got in touch with their team specifically for this series because these are people whom not only have made their adventurous travels a major part of their lives, but they’ve also found a way to do good with it. Take a moment to read their answers, and while you’re at it, be sure to ask yourself the same question.
– Lauren Rains


Chris “Doh!” Sizemore, Director of Operations

Chris Sizemore A quick definition of “give” is to “freely transfer the possession of something to someone”. I would spend my two weeks giving back to the environment that has given so much to me. I would transfer to the outdoors by volunteering my time at any organization that helps improve our surrounding environment. There are so many incredible nonprofits engaged in amazing, creative and sustainable work that is paramount to improving our environment. I’d love to help in organizations like American Trail, Sierra Club or Water for People that truly are making a difference.

Find Chris on Facebook | Twitter: @ChrisSizemore21


Corey “Daryl” Nielsen, Global Experience Director

Corey Nielsen Wilderness is made for self-reflection and therefore the best way to spend two weeks is to be in it – completely and utterly.  As our truly wild areas continue to shrink we have an obligation to get out and just be in them.  If we do not, there is no frame of reference when it comes to saving or “doing” something for wilderness.  How can one save something that he or she does not know or is unable to relate to.  Ed Abbey said it best: “It is not enough to fight for the land; it is even more important to enjoy it. While you can. While it’s still here. So get out there and hunt and fish and mess around with your friends, ramble out yonder and explore the forests, climb the mountains, bag the peaks, run the rivers, breathe deep of that yet sweet and lucid air, sit quietly for a while and contemplate the precious stillness, the lovely, mysterious, and awesome space.”

I anchored off a remote island in Mexico a few weeks ago and this is the view when I got ashore.


Jenna “Lucy” Catalona, Marketing Coordinator

Jenna Catalona Since I was young, I have found an innate reaction to protecting and saving those who are not capable of protecting themselves. I often feel as though many people don’t quite understand the impact that wildlife has on the ecological balance of our earth, and too often they are overlooked and underserved. Although extinction can be an inevitable evolutionary process, there are many species that are facing premature threats of extinction despite the efforts of many incredible organizations across the globe. African elephants being poached for ivory, leopards hunted for their coats, dolphins in Japan for their meat…WHY? Quoting the critically acclaimed 2009 documentary “The Cove” on saving the Japan dolphins “You are either an activist or an inactivist”. If I could spend two weeks giving to the outdoors, it would be aiding in the preservation and protection of these beautiful creatures facing such dangers, because the outdoors and ecosystem within depend on it.

Find Jenna on Facebook | Twitter: @Jenna_Catalona


Brad “Daril” Ludden, Founder and CEO of First Descents

Brad Ludden If I had two weeks to give to the outdoors, I would start by taking, as strange as that sounds. However, I truly believe that we have to find ourselves whole and happy before we can give anything. The outdoors have always provided that contentment for me so that’s where I would begin–on the shores of remote alpine lakes, chasing elk, summiting peaks, skiing lines and kayaking rivers. Once whole, I would spend the remaining time sharing the gift of the outdoors by giving it to others searching for that same contentment but unaware that it can be found outside. I truly believe that all we need exists outside if we just take the time to search for it.

Find Brad on Facebook | Twitter: @BradLudden


Whitney “Wang” Lange Milhoan, Director of Programs

Whitney Lang For my 2 week outdoor give-back, I would keep it local! There’s so much to be done near the rivers, mountains and forests in my own back yard. I’d start with riverbank clean-up (with plenty of fly fishing breaks worked in), and continue with trail maintenance. I would bring my kids and explain the importance of respecting, appreciating and caring for our natural resources. My hope is that my children will become stewards of the land; that they’ll share my passion for the outdoors and understand and embrace their responsibility in the protection, management and advocacy of the mountains and waters we love to explore!


Find Whitney on Facebook | Twitter: @Whitlange



Erin “J’wana” Kelly, Team First Descents Coordinator

Erin Kelly Unplug! Run, walk and ride my bike. Be energized by the sun. Celebrate open land. Buy and eat local and organic. Fix, share, pass on, and borrow belongings. Make birdhouses and beehives. Plant trees. Breathe deeply. Compost. Let rivers, mountains, oceans, and dirt be my entertainment. Pick up all the garbage I see and recycle what possible. Start an organic garden. Play board games. Buy and use less of anything and everything. Get friends and family to do the same!



Julie “Fruit Boots” Kinamore, Programs Coordinator

Julie Fruit Boots For two weeks I would head back to my adopted island home – Maui, HI.  I’d try to do it all in 14 days: dive Olowalu, surf Thousand Peaks, camp in Hana, hike the crater, snorkel for frogfish at Mala Ramp and a whole lot more – and I’d strive to be a great steward of the environment and exhibit best practices while playing outside in my paradise.  While there, I’d complete as many reef fish surveys as possible through the Community-Based Coral Reef Monitoring program to help with local research and conservation efforts – easy to do if I’m going to be diving and snorkeling anyway.  I’m my best self when in and around water and I can’t think of a better way to give back to Gaia.

Find Julie on Facebook




Rebekah “Remix” Koenigbauer

Rebeka Koenigbauer The great outdoors has given to me something I will never be able to repay – it has given me a perspective on beauty and a thirst for adventure. When I am outside…the air, the mountains, the water…they have a way of getting me back to a place of peace and instilling in me an awe for something so much greater than all of us. I think the best way I could give back to the outdoors is to pass on the gift I have received – so I would spend 2 weeks taking my family, who hasn’t been able to play in nature like I have, and give them a taste of the beauty and the adventure that I have grown to love.

Find Rebekah on Facebook

About The Author

Lauren Rains is the editor at large of Outdoor Minded Mag. She is struck by wanderlust, and spends most waking hours of her life either exploring the outdoors around the globe or working on various passion projects be it film to microadventures to cooking chili. You can read about her adventures in life, biz and travel on her blog TheMadToLive.com, and catch up with her on Twitter at @LaurRAINS.