It’s summertime, which can only mean one thing… New! Summer! Interns!! Interning with Venture Outdoors means more than just grabbing coffee and filing papers. These students do everything from managing social media pages to assisting with coordinating programs. Interns get a unique, hands-on experience in communications, photography, and programming. Be sure to look for these faces mind whenever you’re ~venturing outdoors~.

Communications

Kendall at Ohiopyle

Our first Communication Intern is Kendall. Kendall is majoring in Communication and minoring in Creative Writing at the University of Pittsburgh (H2P). One of her favorite outdoor activities is running because of its physicality and stress-relieving abilities. She says her favorite part of working at Venture Outdoors is “being able to meet other people who are just as wild about the outdoors”. One of Kendall’s favorite outdoor spots is Tyler State Park because of its running trails and ~secret~ algae slide. If she could take any celebrity on a Venture Outdoors program, she would definitely bring Kristen Wiig because she’s hilarious and #relatable.
Ultimately, Kendall’s dream job is working in the advertising, marketing, or creative sector of a company that values its employees and is a stone’s throw away from some cool outdoor spots.

morgan hiking

Our second Communication Intern is Morgan. She is a Strategic Communications major at Elon University. There’s nothing Morgan loves more than a hike to a good hammocking spot. Her favorite outdoors place to visit? The Highlands of Scotland. According to Morgan, she loves working at Venture Outdoors because “as a strategic communications major and environmental studies minor, I am lucky enough to have an internship that combines both of my fields of study”. If Morgan could bring a celebrity on a Venture Outdoors program, she would bring John Mulaney! “While observing him participate in any outdoor activity would be entertaining in and of itself, I’m sure he would also tell entertaining jokes and stories along the way.” In the future, she hopes to work for Patagonia’s Campaigns team.

lindsay doing stand up paddle boarding

Last but not least, our third Communication Intern is Lindsey! Lindsey is a sophomore at John Carroll University studying Marketing and Communication with a minor in Entrepreneurship. Some of her favorite outdoor activities include hiking and kayaking. Lindsey’s favorite part about working for Venture Outdoors is “being part of an organization that strives to get everyone in the outdoors and to enjoy being active through the various programs we offer”. If she could choose any celebrity to bring on a Venture Outdoors program it would 100% be Kim Kardashian West. “Honestly just imagine Kim K showing up in a custom made $800 ‘workout’ outfit for a day hike.” Lindsey’s favorite campfire food? Easy. S’mores all the way! In the future, Lindsey hopes to open up her own café in Oregon. (Perhaps a s’mores café? Hmmm…)

Outdoor Programs

bryan fishing

Bryan is our one of our fearless Outdoor Programs Interns! He is currently finishing up his degree in Parks and Recreation Management at California University of Pennsylvania. Bryan is an avid cyclist and cites it as his favorite outdoor activity. You can find him riding his bike anywhere: trails, roads, downtown, or in the middle of nowhere. Bryan’s favorite part of working at Venture Outdoors is “getting to help with outings as an apprentice Trip Leader”. “I get to learn how to run an outing while also learning how to participate in an activity I’ve never had the chance to try!” Like many of our other interns, he loves a good s’more (honestly who doesn’t). Bryan’s favorite outdoors spots are Ohiopyle State Park and his friend’s cabin in Potter County. If he could bring any celebrity on a Venture Outdoors program it would be Nick Offerman because he could bring equal parts knowledge and humor to any outing. In the future, Bryan hopes to be the head of a municipal parks and recreation department and eventually retire to be a beekeeper and build wooden furniture.

programming intern meredith

Another one of our Programming Interns is Meredith! Meredith recently graduated from Azusa Pacific University in May. Her favorite outdoor activity is hiking, hiking, and more hiking. Meredith’s favorite part of working for Venture Outdoors is that no outdoor trip and group of people are ever the same. “Every day I get a new, fresh chance to love the outdoors and the people I’m with. Even better, I know that the first priority of everyone I work with will always be people, which creates an amazing work environment.” She loves snacking on raw broccoli and hummus—she’s confident that it tastes better outdside vs. inside! One of her favorite outdoor places to visit is Yosemite National Park. Fun fact: Meredith recently received a hammock for her birthday and absolutely loves it! “I like how setting up a hammock turns any outdoor outing into a special occasion. You get to settle in and appreciate wherever you are in your own time. Also, best napping spot ever!”

Fishing

Our first Fishing Intern is Patrick! Patrick graduated from Theil College with a BS in Environmental Science. His favorite outdoor activities include fishing, hunting, sailing, and kayaking. Patrick’s favorite part of working for Venture Outdoors is teaching people how to fish. “I love Trianglers Lunch Time fishing. You never know what someone is going to catch.” When it comes to outdoor food, he loves beef jerky because it’s easy to take with him and easy to eat. His favorite outdoor spot is anywhere along the coast because he loves coastal fishing, the salty air, and warm summer nights (sounds pretty hard to beat). Patrick would love to bring infamous angler Bill Dance on a Venture Outdoors program because of their shared love of fishing. In the future, Patrick hopes to become a fishing boat captain.

nick fishing

Our second Fishing Intern is Nick. Nick attends the University of Pittsburgh and studies Marketing. One of his favorite outdoor activities is fishing with friends. Nick loves working at Venture Outdoors because he gets to fish in front of the beautiful Pittsburgh skyline and meet a variety of people with a common interest in fishing. His favorite outdoor spot to visit is Raccoon State Park. If Nick could bring anyone on a Venture Outdoors program, he would bring Antonio Brown (a Pittsburgh legend, obviously). In the future, Nick hopes to own a fishing charter boat and help others experience the joy of fishing.

Photography

flannery hiking

Our first of the Photography Interns is Flannery! Flannery attended Point Park University and graduated with a BFA in Photography. She enjoys outdoor activities year-round including cross country skiing during the winter and biking and kayaking during the summer. Flannery’s favorite part of interning with Venture Outdoors is being able to photograph and participate in the different activities Venture Outdoors offers throughout the year. She says, “I love being outdoors so being a part of a team that is excited and passionate about the outdoors is incredible.” One of her favorite outdoor spots to visit is her river house located along the Allegheny River in Kennerdall. Flannery loves going hiking and biking along the trails and kayaking and swimming in the river. Her dream job is to be a food photographer because she loves photography and taking photos of her own food!

abigail headshot

Our next Photography Intern is Abbey! Abbey currently attends Kent State University and is majoring in photojournalism. Her favorite outdoor activity is anything that involves a boat: kayaking, canoeing, rafting, etc. One of her favorite parts about working for Venture Outdoors is being able to spend her work day outside while also having the opportunity to participate in the outdoor programs with sociable and genuine people. Abbey enjoys a good banana boat by the campfire and her favorite outdoor place to visit is the beaches on the Amalfi Coast. If she could bring any celebrity on a Venture Outdoors program it would be Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson because she needs someone strong to carry her camera bag (solid choice). Abbey hopes to eventually become a food photographer, which sounds like a cool AND delicious job!

Meet Julie, another one of our talented Photography Interns! Julie is a senior at Duquesne University studying Corporate Communication, Business Management, and Philosophy. Her favorite outdoor activity is kayaking with her dogs. Julie’s favorite part about working for Venture Outdoors is taking photos and getting to know new people. In the future, she hopes to work for the National Park Service.

Matt at Monet's Gardens in France

Matt is another one of our Photography Interns (who also happens to double as a Trip Leader Specialist!). Matt currently attends the University of Pittsburgh as a Communications major with an Italian minor. Additionally, he is pursuing certificates in Global Studies and Digital Media. He loves a good hike and when asked what his favorite campfire snack is, he confidently answered “S’mores, obviously”. One of Matt’s favorite outdoor spots is anywhere on Hawaii’s many islands. If he could bring anyone on a Venture Outdoors program, he would bring Matt Damon because “he seems like a genuinely good person and likely a ton of fun to be around”. In later years, Matt hopes to do marketing and photography for an automobile company.

Tyke Hikes

Lauren and her hiking buddy Koda

Our Tyke Hikes Intern Lauren is a senior studying Communications and Economics with a focus in Marketing at Pitt Johnstown. Her favorite outdoor activity is hiking! Lauren’s favorite part of working for Venture Outdoors is being able to interact with new people and explore the outdoors together. Her favorite outdoors place to visit is Shenandoah National Park in Virginia because of the gorgeous mountains.

By: Bryan Moore

Growing up in a Fayette County farm town means two things for a kid: you need to make your own fun, and there’s no easy way to get around. The town in which I spent my formative years had no public transit; even sidewalks were scarce, and the only crosswalk signals around were for the frightening task of crossing Route 51. The distance between my house and places like Sampey Park or the Yough River – a minute or two by car – seemed insurmountable on foot.  So when I decided I’d had enough of spending all my time inside on the farm, I knew I needed to get a bike.

Having a bike was a pragmatic decision for me (as a kid who was pretty averse to the idea of exercise, I saw it as more a necessary evil than anything else).  But from the first time I hopped onto the seat, I knew cycling was going to be something much different from what I had expected. Pretty soon, I was holding “drag races” in my driveway with my little brother and spending all of my afterschool time learning how to take apart brakes and gearshifts using my stepdad’s wrenches in the garage. Once I graduated high school and my Walmart mountain bike was close to being on life support, I decided to use some of the graduation money gifted to me and put it towards an upgrade. I went to a real bike shop, spent some time looking around and riding test laps around the store, and finally decided on my Trek Dual Sport, a 21-speed hybrid perfect for navigating both bike trails and open road.

Nowadays, this bike is helping me finish my degree by being my main mode of transportation to my internship here at Venture Outdoors. It’s served as my go-to rec companion for over four years, and I couldn’t be happier with it. My bike is more than just a way to get around; anytime the stresses and anxieties of everyday life pile up a little too high, I know I can always pull my bike out, take a lap or two around the neighborhood, and feel the road fly past underneath my tires. Cycling has taken on a meditative quality to me; as long as I know my route, I can lose myself in the rhythms of the road and take in all the sights and sounds around me, whether they be the blooming trees of my hometown’s rural roads or the Magneto mural on busy Butler Street. Cycling may have started as just a way to get from Point A to Point B, but for me, it’s become part of who I am and my favorite way to go.

Bryan's bike, Mystery
My faithful companion. Forgive the rusty chain; I’m a little behind on maintenance.

Kendall Oakley

My cousin Nathan is an undeniable expert outdoorsman and hiker. He lives in Boulder, Colorado, and if he’s not in his graduate school classes he’s on the trails. Last summer he hiked the ENTIRE Appalachian Trail by himself (!!!!). Obviously, being a proud cousin, it’s my job to (humbly) brag about Nate’s crazy accomplishments to my friends, especially those who also share an affinity for the outdoors. During one instance, my friend Eliza called Nate a term I had never heard before. She said he was “granola”. Granola?? What the heck does that even mean? Is she comparing him to the sweet, crunchy clusters people put on top of yogurt and smoothies?

My investigative nature and genuine confusion led to me doing minimal research (aka a Google search of the term). No, being granola does not mean that you’re anything like the sweet, crunchy clusters people put on top of yogurt and smoothies. I concluded that a good part of the granola lifestyle simply means being visibly outdoorsy. People who are perceived as granola have Instagram feeds full of beautiful landscapes, Pinterest boards filled with camping/fishing/climbing/etc. trip plans, and may or may not frequently wear Chacos or Tevas. They’d rather do a visit to a National Park than a day at the amusement park. As a college student, I hear the term granola being thrown around more often than not. “Look at that girl’s Nalgene! She must be sooooo granola…”. “OMG you have an Eno hammock? How granola of you!”. “I really want to go on a hike. It’ll be such a good granola experience.”. On the exterior, people like to present themselves as granola or brag about being granola because it’s apparently cool to be an outdoorsy millennial. It shows that you have some grit and that you care about something greater than yourself. It’s no coincidence that brands like Patagonia, LL Bean, and North Face that are considered granola (due to their outdoorsy ethos) also happen to be wildly popular among college students too. Owning a lot of products from an outdoorsy brand is associated with being (wait for it…) granola. Being granola is kind of… trendy… I mean, think about it. Who wouldn’t be impressed by a human who chooses to prioritize getting outdoors over binging hours of Netflix?

Muesli with fruit

Reflecting on my minimally extensive research, my cousin Nate is truly granola. Aside from fitting the aesthetic appearance (digitally and physically), he also embodies an often overlooked aspect of being granola. Nate has an insatiable yearning to be outdoors. He doesn’t just talk the talk; he walks the walk. He’s all about facing challenges and trying new things from mountain biking, to hiking the entire AT. Nate isn’t afraid of going back to the basics of living off the land and separating himself from his hectic grad student life. Most importantly, Nate doesn’t strive to be granola for the recognition or compliments on his aesthetic. He genuinely loves and appreciates the land around him and wants to help other people experience all the benefits of the outdoors. Last month, he emailed me a very comprehensive starter’s guide to hiking trips filled with links to helpful products and anecdotes about his own experiences.

However, Nate’s expertise and experience isn’t mandatory for being granola. Living the granola lifestyle is as easy as acting on your intentions. Practice what you preach. Want to go on a day hike? Gather some friends, do some research and do it. Love brands like Patagonia and Eddie Bauer? Start thinking about buying their items with a functional mindset rather than for brand recognition by others (think of that as a bonus). This doesn’t have to be done in one day. It takes time to explore the land around you. It’s tempting to get caught up in the materialistic side of being granola, but as long as you possess the desire to pursue more, to explore more, and to appreciate something bigger than yourself, then you’re on the track to being granola.

By: Iris Marzolf, Venture Outdoors Photography Intern
Originally posted on Pittsburgh Play Collaborative as a Member Blog.

What does being outside mean to you? Take a moment and think. Maybe it’s a sanctuary—a place to escape a high-crime neighborhood, leave the city and smell fresh air, or just be free.

For me, the outdoors means fun. As a little girl I was painfully shy, and the outdoors was one of the only places I could relax. Moving around took my mind off being self-conscious, and I could play with other kids without feeling anxiety. Most of my happy childhood memories are from playing outside with my sisters. Whether it be sliding around in mud, catching fireflies, raking leaves, or throwing snowballs, there was something fun to do no matter the season. Play and the outdoors go hand in hand.

Upon hearing “play,” the average person probably thinks of little kids with their toys or games like tag. However, play isn’t just for kids. Adults “play” by joking around, taking walks with friends, throwing a Frisbee, or virtually anything that stimulates creativity and allows a break from life’s responsibilities. Play in general is important as it relieves stress, keeps the mind and body young, and builds or improves relationships. Play outside is even more valuable. It ramps up health benefits through exercise, gives you the chance to socialize with other people, and allows you to gain appreciation and respect for the environment.

Sadly, not everyone has the ability or luxury to get outside. That’s where programs like Venture Outdoors come in. Venture Outdoors believes everyone deserves the chance to experience how fun the outdoors can be. They organize programs, provide equipment, and offer guidance and inspiration so that people are able to do so. It’s not just about getting exercise and reducing stress, it’s about experiencing new things and making connections and good memories. They offer numerous youth programs which allow kids to socialize and play games with their peers outside, or get experience trying new outdoor activities they might not normally do with their families such as snowshoeing and kayaking. It’s like a reward at the end of the school day. However, Venture Outdoors isn’t only kid-focused; it gives people of all ages the opportunity to

PLAY by meeting new people, getting out of their comfort zones, experiencing new things, and taking a break from their daily obligations.

Snowshoeing

This was taken on a Beginner Snowshoeing trip at Laurel Summit in January. The woman in front told me she was used to staying indoors during the winter, but she decided to seize the opportunity to try snowshoeing on a Venture Outdoors program. During the trip, she was all smiles—chatting with the people near her, enjoying the blue sky and sun—and by the end, she proclaimed that snowshoeing was her new favorite winter activity.

Kayaking

This was at a youth program Kayak workshop. The little boy pictured above had never kayaked before and loved every minute of it.

Hiking

In the words of George Bernard Shaw, “We don’t stop playing because we grow old; we grow old because we stop playing.” Maybe people are afraid to put themselves out there and try something different or worry that “playing” will make them seem childish. It’s supportive having a group of people who all want to have fun and do the same activity, and Venture Outdoors gives that support.

By: Sara Cardamone

In July of 2016, Sophie was looking to try something new. She had already planned to get away from the world for a while and decided to head to her grandparent’s house in upstate New York. Surrounded only by the sights and sounds of nature, it was the perfect place for her to relax and truly spend time with herself. As the end of the school year approached, her grandpa sent a message to her and her sister mentioning a club that he had heard a bit about called the Forty Sixers Club. The club was centered in the Adirondacks and the only way to get in is to reach all 46 high peaks in the mountain range. Sophie and her sister had always enjoyed hiking and they were both looking for a challenge so they decided to give it their best effort. 

They started off slow as they tried to get a feel for what they would be encountering in the next three weeks. They had planned to climb 23 peaks in the 21 days they would be staying at their grandparent’s house. When Sophie reached the first peak, she felt a little overwhelmed – realizing that it would only get more difficult from here on out. However, her excitement and pride grew as she looked out from the top of the mountain at the incredible view.

mountains with sunset

One of the longest hikes they did was going up Mt. Whiteface. It is the fifth tallest peak out of 46 and took them all day. This hike was grueling and on one of the hotter days of the summer, but once they reached the top it was worth it. Sophie said it was one of the more satisfying moments of her life, making her realize how small she actually was in the world. It gave her a brand new perspective of nature and just how powerful and beautiful it can be.

view of mountains from trail

They woke up at 3 AM to drive to their starting point which was two hours away. This day was incredibly exhausting for her and her sister, but it was the last time that they would get to do this for a while. Using this as motivation, they pushed through and successful hiked eight peaks in one day. With 23 peaks behind them, they were halfway to their goal of being part of the Forty Sixers Club. When asked about the trip, Sophie said that it was one of the best decisions she ever made. She felt like she had pushed her limits just enough to accomplish something that she was incredibly proud of. The two of them are planning a trip this summer to finish off the rest of the peaks and to hopefully be accepted into the Forty Sixers Club! 

Below are some other pictures that Sophie took while she was on her trip.  

Whiteface mountain sign on top of mountain

tree covered mountains with clear blue skies in the background

mountains with blue sky in the background