Difficult To Gift Wrap, Impossible to Forget

blog image

Gifts of Opportunity

What experience do you wake up everyday feeling thankful for?
Every day I am very thankful that I had the opportunity to go to a private boarding school as a child. Like many of the students we serve here every day, I grew up in an inner-city neighborhood in Philadelphia. I had limited resources and educational advances. I learned early that education was the key to success and the key to bettering myself. Without that experience I doubt I would have moved to New England to go to college, fall in love with cooking, have the great career that I have, or have met my wife! Thankful every day!

Lisa Milanytch Mykyta, TIOBEC Grant Writer
Gift of Opportunity image 1

What experience do you wake up everyday feeling thankful for?
I am grateful to be employed at a place that values family life and supports women in the work-force, especially full-time moms. The conditions of my job allow me to be present with my children during the day and work off-hours, making it possible for me to have a career while focusing on family.

When I was pregnant with my first born, I was approached by the development director to be the grant writer for the organization even though I had limited experience. Perhaps she recognized a talent or passion for writing that I didn’t even know I had at the time, but the hours were flexible, and I felt good to work for an organization that has the power to change lives.

I wear my compass rose sweatshirt and hat proudly, and rattle on about Thompson Island whenever anyone asks what that symbol. I wake up everyday grateful that Thompson Island has provided me with the opportunity to have an ideal work-life balance.

Louisa Bradberry, TIOBEC  Director of Staffing
Gift of Opportunity image 2

Were you given an opportunity that helped you discover your passion?
In seventh grade, I was given the opportunity to take part in a year-long experiential learning program in my middle school. In this program, my fellow students and I learned about the health of our local ecosystems by going out to visit streams and lakes, testing water sources for biodiversity, and investigating the human impact on the environment. This was my first experience with hands-on learning, and it completely changed the way I approached my own education. By getting my hands dirty, and actually experiencing what I was learning about in the classroom, I discovered that education is about more than words in a textbook – it is about kindling your own curiosity for the world around you, and preparing you for a lifetime of growth and learning.

I know I was extremely lucky to have had this opportunity in middle school, and can also say that it had a profound impact on my decision to pursue a career in outdoor and experiential education. At Thompson Island, I feel proud to contribute to a mission that works to provide similar opportunities to Boston’s youth every day, and can speak firsthand to the power of hands-on learning in lighting a spark to ignite a fire.

Sarah Swanson, TIOBEC Senior Development Officer
opportunities as gifts image

Were you given an opportunity that helped you discover your passion?
I grew up in a rural town in Oregon. The outdoors was a natural part of my upbringing – from hiking to week-long camping trips, we were an “Outward Bound” family. When I was hired to work at Thompson Island Outward Bound 11 years ago, I knew it was the perfect job for me. It aligned my work experience with my passion to ensure all young people received the opportunity to learn and grow in the outdoors. I am thankful that today I still get to work for this wonderful organization while living with my family in Colorado.

Scotty Lowen, TIOBEC Corporate Volunteer Coordinator
Gift of Opportunity image 3

What experience do you wake up everyday feeling thankful for?
Everyday I wake up and I am thankful for a though hiking experience on the Pacific Crest Trail – from Mexico to Canada, 2663 miles!

While a lot of my friends were sitting at desks in office buildings, I was sweating in the desert of southern California or freezing in the Sierra mountains. 

I am constantly asked, why did I do it? Was I trying to find myself? Was I running from something?

I did it for the views, for the memories, for the friendships, for the right to say I did this because I wanted to do something for myself. I did it for the experiences that I couldn’t find previously in my life. As a through hiker I was looking for something new and exciting. I wanted to experience something that I could truly say was my own personal experience. It might have been one of the craziest, amazing, insane things I have ever done and I wouldn’t change any of it!

Elissa Bowling, TIOBEC Corporate Partnership Manager
giving thanks for opportunities image

Were you given an opportunity that helped you discover your passion?
During my senior year at Tufts University I applied and was selected to run the 2015 Tufts Wilderness Orientation program that following September. I spent that winter, spring and summer interviewing and hiring the program staff, planning and implementing training sessions, coordinating the gear and logistics for the program, and eventually sending the trip leaders and their incoming students out into the woods of New Hampshire, Vermont, and Maine for 5 days before they started their college experience. I ended up being a part of that program for three years supporting and leading those trips. To be the one to coordinate the whole program was an incredibly fulfilling experience and helped me discover my passion and path in the outdoor industry.

What resources do you feel lucky to have access to?
I feel very lucky that I have had access to resources that have allowed me to travel the country and the world. My parents have a deep affinity for travel and they didn’t shy away from bringing their kids. The resources for this kind of experience include the obvious ones (funds and time) but also the less tangible resources: being able to tap into my parents’ traveling experience so I could later feel confident traveling on my own. Because of my access to travel, I have been able to connect to my Greek heritage and to my relatives in Greece. This has enabled me to feel at home on the Mediterranean. Not everyone gets these resources or experiences travel and vacations, and I feel very fortunate to have grown up with them consistently.

Carina Surface, TIOBEC Challenge Course and Safety Coordinator
Gift of Opportunity image 4

Were you given an opportunity that helped you discover your passion?
In 2008 I was given the opportunity as a high school senior to go to the General Henry Hugh Shelton Leadership Challenge at NC State University in Raleigh, North Carolina. The photo is of my Coach Mentor Trainer (CMT) Aileen with whom I’m best friends with today. My experience at that leadership challenge lead me to work for that leadership center a year later. Opportunities through the leadership center lead me to have a 2nd job with the NC State Challenge Course which sparked my passion to work in the outdoors. Both these opportunities combined helped me realize my desire to do leadership and team building in the outdoors as a career.

So tell us:

What opportunities are YOU thankful for?

Sign Up for Updates

Stay informed on Thompson Island Outward Bound Education Center news and updates! Please fill out the form below to begin receiving our email newsletter.