top of page


Name: John Moses Girdler

Job: Program Coordinator- Vanderbilt Programs for Talented Youth

Hobbies: Yoga, Ceramics, Art, Backpacking

Years at Mountain Challenge: Fall 2007 – Spring 2012

How you got involved with us:

My best friend’s older sister, Lauren Gomes, also worked for Mountain Challenge. She recruited me to both Mountain Challenge and Maryville College. I interviewed for the fellowship but didn’t receive it, upon arriving at MC I started shadowing with Mountain Challenge in my first semester.


Most meaningful Mountain Challenge experience:

I believe it would be a combination of all the hours spent driving on bike trips. It’s an odd one, but it gave me excellent time to just be and think with intermittent bouts of human contact. The placement of those trips in my college career and intellectual development was ideal.


How it influenced your career:

It made me appreciate the journey and realize how important movement is to me. I’ve rarely been happier than when I was traveling back country roads completely absorbed in the experience and process of driving for the bike trip. Since graduating in all the jobs I’ve chosen I’ve focused on whether I thought the experience and process would be fulfilling rather than the paycheck. I’m certainly not rolling in money, but so far I’ve been rather satisfied with my choices.


A funny story:

Removing a tick from Travis at a small Mexican restaurant in rural TN with nothing but the items on our table. If I remember correctly, hot sauce mixed with lime juice was the final solution.


Anything else?

The community of Mountain Challenge is what sold me on the entire thing. Throughout my college career it was my home base. Crawford House was a place I could get away from all the other nonsense. I knew there would be people there who cared and would have a genuine conversation, having that meant a lot especially when things got rough. Looking back, nearly all of the friends who I’m in regular contact with and keep up with were tied to Mountain Challenge, I think there’s a reason for that.

Meet More Amazing Mountain Challenge Alumni Here

bottom of page