Venturing to a new place can leave a person searching for a sense of home and that was no different for southern Oregon native Priscilla Macy, a former Adventure Leadership Institute (ALI) staff member who graduated from Oregon State University with a Recreation Resource Management degree in 2015. Today, Macy is an avid kayaker who is pursuing her MBA and working as a graduate assistant with Diversity and Cultural Engagement at OSU. It is clear that her undergraduate journey and passion for kayaking was heavily influenced by her time spent within ALI.
Macy began her journey with Rec Sports at OSU as a transfer student from Rogue Community College in southern Oregon. “I was looking into all of the different programs that Oregon State offered and at the time I was a river guide so I was seeing if [OSU] had anything that would be similar to that,” she said, “Then I stumbled across the ALI website and saw Josh Norris’ contact info and just started emailing him.” Norris then went on to offer her a teaching position at a raft guide training course before the term began. “I just drove up [to OSU] after getting off the river in southern Oregon and went to the raft guide training for a week and had all of my stuff that I was moving up in my car. I camped out with them, met everyone and he offered me a job [at ALI],” said Macy. Her passion for adventure made Macy a perfect candidate for this position.
At ALI, Macy played a variety of different roles within the program. “I started working there just doing raft guiding trips in the summer before the term that I moved up [to Corvallis],” she said, “For the most part I worked in the rock climbing gym and then also led trips through the Adventure Leadership program. The rock climbing gym was the most consistent work.”
Due to her current time intensive graduate student schedule, Macy’s involvement with the program has changed, but she strives to maintain the close connections she made with the staff at ALI. “Originally I had hoped to work with ALI again to a larger extent, but it didn’t work out so it’s mostly just maintaining those personal relationships, promoting Dixon, and keeping relationships with everyone that works [at Rec Sports],” said Macy.
Macy can also credit much of her passion for kayaking to experiences that began in high school and in ALI. “I would say growing up in Southern Oregon, everyone there is pretty adventurous—going outside, swimming in rivers, and tubing is just a part of the culture. I got into kayaking originally from raft guiding right out of high school—it was a job that I took. I did that for seven years and then I ended up helping manage this wilderness therapy nonprofit for a few years through that same company. I started really falling in love with rivers and how [kayaking] changed people's perspectives. That was part of the reason I chose my undergraduate degree too,” Macy said, “Then from there working at ALI—Josh and Ty and all of the professional staff are really into experiential learning, which made me more interested in it. Through [ALI] I took a hard-shell kayaking introduction class because I had never done it before and met a bunch of really cool people that were also starting out and didn’t know what they were doing. We kind of just started reading through books that had kayaking runs and going out on those adventures by ourselves.” It was through this close group of kayakers at ALI that Macy would learn how to safely kayak down a river while also learning how to teach others the sport as well.
It was over the next few years that Macy’s hobby would turn into a passion to be taken more seriously. “Aside from paddling the more well-known rivers, my boyfriend and I have been exploring streams in Oregon that some would consider off the beaten path. Part of the fun in seeing these places is sharing them with others, so one of the things I was doing after trips was posting a picture or two each week on social media. A couple of paddling companies took notice and expressed interest in providing sponsorships. So now with their help we are able to expand our radar since we can spend more money on gas instead of paying full price for paddling gear! We keep waiting to get tired of paddling but it hasn’t happened yet so we are still out there every weekend trying to see a new place.” Macy currently receives sponsorship support from Immersion Research, Astral Whitewater, and International Kayak Supply.
Being active has always been a part of Macy’s life, and like any athlete, what motivates her has changed over time. “I think what motivates me now is being able to continue to see places that may not be accessible in the future and that people kind of forget exist,” she said, “Just having the tools to be able to see these places and share them with other people is my motivation and hopefully that leads to people caring about our environment a little bit more.” Much like her motivation, Macy’s outlook on fitness reflects her adventurous spirit. “My general fitness philosophy is not doing fitness for the reason that you want to look good, said Macy, “Fitness should be something that you do so you’re not limited in anything, just becoming a capable person that is able to say ‘yes’ to whatever opportunity that comes up.”
ALI has served as a place for adventure and as a place of community for Macy. “ALI for me was kind of this place where I found a home culture. It wasn’t only a place of work, it was a place where I found some really close friends and we shared the same values. It really made the transition as a transfer student so much easier,” said Macy, “For the students that participate in ALI I think it’s very important to them and offers a place for them to feel at home.”