Member Spotlight: Gary
Date postedSeptember 13, 2023
Meet Gary Stauffer!
Gary (he/him/his) grew up on a farm in the "thumb" region of the Michigan mitten. He now lives on a three acre rural plot in Dexter, MI, near Ann Arbor (Go Blue!). Gary is Happily retired and becoming more of a contributing member of the Great Lakes Adventure group (lots of Michiganders) and writing with some valued colleagues to convert what he has loved doing for the past 40 years into words.
Tell us a bit about what you do.
As a retired Adventurer, I find myself making efforts to make the day I'm given the best it can possibly be. It is an adventure belief that I tried to pass on to my clients ("it never rains on adventure") and now I am challenged to walk my talk. It is difficult some days due to a neurological disorder that can make just staying upright my primary focus, but the challenge is wonderful. I am so lucky to have had a career of action and movement and that gift just keeps on giving.
Tell us more about yourself!
Right now, I am a gardener, husband, father, grandfather, and writer. My old friend, Mark Ames wrote about the role of beauty, mystery, and community in finding our new identities. That sort of sums up my life in retirement. The community I experience from family, grandchildren, and my AEE friends is priceless and sustains my soul daily. The beauty in our gardens and nature around me keeps the spice of life alive for me. And definitely, there is mystery embedded in all of this. Mystery from the simple things, like will I make it through this hike without falling and can I make it to the ice walls this winter with my climbing friends, to the intricacies of my love for Becky who has been my lifelong partner for over 50 years of marriage. Let me just say, adventure is in me.
What excites you when you think about the future of Experiential Education?
Selfishly, I think I am most excited about transferring the passion I feel for engaging clients in action as the primary means for healing and change. As I do that, I am especially excited to see so many young, enthusiastic and creative practitioners coming into the field. They have much to teach me about the actual practice of adventure therapy and I love the idea of meeting them and cavorting with them as long as I am able.
Who or what inspires you?
I am primarily inspired by the gospel of love. The idea that love can rescue us, everyone, including me. Without love, we are the noisy mess of selfish and hateful rhetoric that now pervades the landscape of America. The inspiration to be marked as one who loves well keeps me traveling on this trail of my choice.
In your free time, we can probably find you:
Gardening, unless the grandchildren are around. Then, I might be chasing them on my adult electric tricycle and conjuring up a new adventure for us to tackle.
How long have you been involved with AEE?
I have been attending AEE for well over 20 years (memory fails me re: dates). I followed my young friend, Tony Alvarez, to attend a conference with like-minded professionals and got hooked immediately.
What is the most rewarding part about being a Member of AEE?
I have to answer this question in the same manner it has been answered for at least the last 30 years. The most rewarding part about being a member of AEE is being a part of the community of like-minded people who are passionate about the practice of adventure therapy and who care deeply about me as a person. What a combination!
Favorite Moment at AEE?
There are so many memorable moments at AEE. Dancing in a tutu, piling into the back of a hatchback with Tucker and Norton, making Maurie Lung participate in Mingle, Mingle, climbing with Sacksteder the day before numerous conferences, and walking with Ames and friends in Montreal all stand out. Please note, none of those highlights involved going to workshops.
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