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Climbing to a New Perspective

“Find something that challenges you and changes you for the better.”

Katie Hampton – communications major, business and leadership certificate

When I started at Boise State, I only knew that I wanted to get a degree. I’ve always been super outdoorsy, but I had a job at a nursing home and had to spend most of my time indoors. What I didn’t know was that by putting myself out there, I could find opportunities on campus that would allow me to meet my academic goals while also fulfilling my passion for the outdoors. Just trying things out took me places I never thought I would be.

I didn’t like my job and wanted to do something completely different. I found a job on Handshake for the Outdoor Program and investigated during new student orientation. I applied but didn’t get the job the first go-round, but I was encouraged to reapply. My second semester they had another position open for the climbing gym. I was nervous because I didn’t have much experience with climbing, but I wanted to see if I could get my foot in the door. Climbing was definitely out of my comfort zone – I had a traumatic experience climbing as a kid, but I like to try things out and see how I like them before I say no – give it a real college try.

Although I was new to the climbing community, the staff and students at the Boise State climbing gym were the nicest people I’d ever met and were really supportive. They taught me the ins and outs of climbing. Bit by bit, I got better and started practicing more often. I ultimately got the job, but I knew I had a lot of improving to do.

Then I had the worst winter break of my life. I had family and friend issues, on top of some mental health issues. I began to question why I was even going to school. I didn’t know where I was going or what I was working towards. It was a really hard time for me, and I was thinking about dropping out.

Things started to click when I took my first climbing trip in the fall of my second year. We went on a trip to the City of Rocks, an amazing area east of Boise. I remember that night at camp, we were cooking ramen, and I climbed up on this little boulder. I was just eating my ramen sitting on my little rock in my sleeping bag, and I saw three shooting stars in the span of five minutes. I was just sitting there thinking “If I didn’t have this job, if I didn’t come to Boise State, this would’ve never happened to me. I never would have been here with these awesome people.” That was the first time I realized this is my thing. This is my sport. This is what I want to do.

Soon after that trip, the Outdoor Program sent me to a conference in Utah. I got to meet leaders in the field and like-minded people across the country. I learned about wilderness therapy, adventure therapy and the whole academic side to the outdoors. The careers I discovered and the experts I met were amazing and inspiring.

From then on, I changed my focus to be all about the outdoors. For all of my class projects, I found a way to make the assignments be about what I was interested in. I researched and gave presentations on my leadership experiences in the Outdoor Program, and made my academics about something that has brought a lot of joy into my life. I started to really enjoy my classes, and my grades even improved. I started working at the climbing gym more often, sometimes five days a week during the summers. I took a wilderness first responder course, learning how to manage risks and take the lead in stressful situations. I started giving 110% in my newfound passion. I was inspired by people I met in the Outdoor Program, and now I want to be the person who shows up for people new to the climbing gym.

I’ve recently taken on new responsibilities for the Outdoor Program. I’m working towards leading my first climbing trip. I’ve been given a lot of amazing opportunities to lead trips this summer to build my skill set as a leader. 

I would’ve never imagined I’d be interested in climbing, let alone become a leader at the climbing gym and make climbing part of my career goals in the future. I’m fortunate to have met these amazing people and received the support I’ve gotten here. It’s a tough sport, a fun job, and I couldn’t be happier about where I’m at.

If I had one piece of advice, it would be to find what it means for you to be a Bronco, be at the school, be involved. Find something that challenges you and changes you for the better.

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