Hello Big Outdoors community! My name is Shaun Hansen, and this is a my story. Along with being a Big Outdoors Ambassador, I am also a 36 years old resident of Spring Grove, MN., an avid outdoorsman, and enjoyer rock climbing, bouldering, and mountaineering. I do a lot more then that, but those are my main outdoor activities of choice. My everyday life is consumed by the overpowering desire to be out in the wilderness, and I consider it my life calling to do so! When I am not out and about, I am a carpenter who works on building houses and doing remodeling projects. I am also a volunteer Fire Fighter, and have been for the past 11 years. I am married to my high school sweetheart, who is not only my wife, but my best friend. We have a boxer named Riley.
Now that you know a little bit more about me, its time to start talking about what drives me to be such an avid an outdoor enthusiast. Its simple really: life is all about the journey. Our personal journeys are comprised of many seen and unforeseen obstacles, and sometimes these challenges can feel truly insurmountable. It is during these times that my connection to the outdoors runs the deepest. Nature is a place that I can confine in, and it exists beyond the worries and stresses or everyday life. For me these stressors began at an early age, as I was alway being picked on and bullied. Being outside and away from people made me feel in control, and it gave a me a sense of calm that transcended the annoyance of mean kids at school. When I found myself in control through natures companionship, I noticed myself changing. The changes that I experienced where not in looks, but in behavior: in compassion, and in acceptance.
Now that one of my sappy childhood memories is relived, I might as well share another. While i'm not exactly sure when this memory took place, it has had a profound influence on me as an outdoorsman. Its simple, but impactful: I remember sitting along the side of a river just listening and being immersed in the ambiance of the wilderness. I was by myself, and I remember the rush of an overwhelming feeling of belonging. While I didn't realize it at the time, looking back I can certainly pin point that experience as a real turning point in my life's trajectory.
As I grew up I listened to that sense of belonging. I learned about camping, building primitive shelters, how to catch and prepare my own food, fish with only a dull hook and 3 feet of line, how to hunt, how to build primitive tools, but more importantly - how to survive. My life's calling was beginning and I didn't even know it. I taught myself all these skills without the help of boy scouts (because I wasn't part of it), my buddies (because they weren’t interested), the internet (because I am that old), or books. I had a great deal of help from my father on some things, but most of it came from my own desire to learn and explore.
Overtime, I gradually began to gain a better understanding of what my “calling” was. I certainly made many mistakes and wrong turns along the way, but my constant curiosity and desire to learn always seemed to propel me forward. As I became more knowledgeable on certain aspects of my outdoor lifestyle, the more I strived to share my enthusiasm and love of the outdoors. I wanted others to experience the same gratification from being in the Big Outdoors as I did, but without a lot of the trials and tribulations that often accompany learning a new skill. Now to me, this sounds a lot like a guide. Bingo.
Being a guide is, and always has been, one of my biggest aspirations. We’ve all heard the old adage “knowledge is power”, but knowledge is nothing without the capability to share it. While I am still working on becoming a guide, I occupy my time in the pursuit of learning new skills, discovering new places, and engaging in new activities. One of the reasons why I love the outdoors so much is due to the fact that one can never truly become an expert, and I’m consistently amazed by the abundance of new things to learn and experience. The next time you are outdoors on an adventure (be it local or distant) do one thing for me: try something you haven't done before! Learn something new as it just might be the start of something a whole lot greater.
Being an outdoor enthusiasts opened many doors for me, and in the process of exploring my passions, I have met a lot of great people who do many wonderful things. It has a lot taught me a great deal. I’ve learned:
-Once you become compassionate to the the outdoors, you will find the acceptance it has to offer you.
-If you choose to be a student and learn everyday, there is always something new to look forward to.
-Acceptance that life is what you make it.
So with so much to do, what are you waiting for!?!? Go explore something, climb something, hike something already, but most importantly. LIVE LIFE....(stay tuned for the next segment of The Climbers Chronicle, where I will be discussing my participation at this years outdoor bouldering competitions). Cheers!
Written by Shaun Hansen: Shaun is from Spring Grove, Minnesota and is a avid rock climber, boulder-er, and mountaineer. For Shaun there is absolutely nothing more rewarding the some back yard BBQ after a stout climbing session, and when he is not in the land of trees and rock, he is a carpenter building houses, and a volunteer firefighter.