Name: LeeAnn Beam
Job: Prospective PhD Social Psychology Student, Boarding Kennel Staff Member
Hobbies: Drinking coffee. Hammock sitting. Some jogging, particularly through woods. Playing with my pets, rescue kitten Orion and old dog Ed. Love woman-powered water activities, especially flat-water kayaking and some spontaneous swimming. I actually like reading psychology literature and listening to TED talks. Painting! Hiking, particularly if there’s a waterfall. Anything involving some sand and salt water. Really, really love to travel.
Years at Mountain Challenge: Four: 2010 – 2014
How you got involved with us: Well, Emily encouraged me to apply for the Fellowship before my freshman year at Maryville College. Sadly, I didn’t get it, but I was able to join staff after some good ole shadowing. From field staff to office staff to Creative Services, I’ve enjoyed learning Mountain Challenge and its culture from several perspectives. The opportunities offered to each student staff member is amazing, and I’m so thankful I was able to be involved in each of these facets.
Most meaningful Mountain Challenge experience: This is going to sound slightly, um, sad. At least for me. But really and truly, leaving Mountain Challenge was the most meaningful. Yup, leaving. Here’s why: I was just bopping along in college, having a great time knowing the work I was doing through Mountain Challenge was impactful, both directly and indirectly, in the lives of those who passed through Crawford House. There’s something about that house, that atmosphere, that made me feel (and I think I can safely say on behalf of others) motivated –no– inspired. Mountain Challenge’s culture was inspiring to me on such a personal level, it’s hard to articulate. It was so motivating, I felt like I could help facilitate client groups’ fun and teamwork in the morning, drink some coffee on the back porch, go for a run, work in the office, head out for a trip to the lake, get back for an awesome dinner – I mean, the possibilities of just one day were endless. It’s waking up this morning and looking back, realizing that getting up soooo early on those Saturdays and walking to CH to work a tower or go canoeing or what have you was for a reason – it felt good. As altruistically as I could write this section, I won’t. That feeling was for myself, and I think that’s okay. That feeling is special, and it’s what made Mountain Challenge meaningful to me. The act of leaving Mountain Challenge (via graduation of MC and moving away) sort of captured that feeling in time, and now that I miss it, I know that it was real. Very real. So this answer ties into my next answer –it influenced my potential career (don’t have one yet, but hopefully soon) by setting the standard of how I want to feel when I wake up in the morning to go to work. I want to know that my work effort is supporting a mission that aims to provide a great experience or offers a helpful perspective for someone’s daily life. I want to know that my work is encouraging others to lead a holistically healthy lifestyle, as I do the same. Like I said, I haven’t found my career calling just yet, but these are some of my standards – and these goals were inspired by Mountain Challenge’s way of life.
A funny story: A lesson on encouragement.
This story is probably more embarrassing for me and funny for those who were around to witness it. Actually, I’m not even sure I’ve told this story before, but here it goes. So, Towers were some of my favorite events to work, and I think a lot of my preference had to do with the amount of encouragement that always seemed to arise from those participating. Even the most quiet of individuals came out of their shells to direct a fellow climber. Naturally, I usually yelled uplifting words or guidance up that 55-foot jungle gym, especially when someone made it to the top. Well, I and one other staff member (who shall not be named) were helping an older woman climb for her class credit. She wanted pictures of her event, so I was in charge of the camera, and the other staff member belayed. We both complimented and guided her ascent, and when she reached the top, we three were ecstatic — Yay! She had made it up there! Woohoo! All the while, I’m taking photos and loudly directing her to stand this way or that way to get a good picture at the top of the tower. Then I scream, “Right there — THAT’S THE MONEY SHOT!” I was so naïve, I had no idea what I had just yelled at this elderly woman. The other staff member just buckled over laughing. As soon as she could breathe, she explained to me that that’s a term used in pornography. You can imagine my horror — oh my gosh, I was so embarrassed! So as she is lowered from the top of the tower, I’m preparing to apologize and explain my inappropriateness to this poor woman. As I’m untying her rope and working up an explanation, she said in her quiet, southern voice something to the extent of “Sugar, you haven’t seen nothin’ yet.” I’m sure I looked like a deer in headlights. All I could do was blush and nervously laugh and thank the Lord above that it was only the three of us around. Since then, I always thought twice about the words of encouragement I shouted up the Alpine Tower.