Anyone who tells you that a job cant inspire, or wont shape and change you is wrong. It is largely because of a part time job that I have become the person that I am today.
Dear Eddie Bauer (and staff),
I worked for your company for 6 years, off and on, and because of that job I have become the woman I am today.
I grew up in rural southeastern Ontario, in the middle of farm country where spending time outside, or going for a walk in the woods wasn’t an event, it was just part of life. I spent plenty of time outside growing up, but until about 8 years ago, could never have been described as outdoorsy. My family did not hike, and my mothers idea of camping is a Super 8 motel.
I grew up being told by everyone around me (although never by my parents) that girls were supposed to look and act a certain way, or be interested in certain acceptable things. I was fine with that, with those expectations until in grade 10 when I elected to take an Outdoor Gym class. In the class I got introduces to hiking and ‘real’ (backcountry) camping and I was hooked. The semester ended, but I kept finding ways to get outside and explore, hiking the different nature trails around my home.
That summer I visited Jasper National Park with family, and for the first time I did what I would now consider a real hike. There were hills, I got blisters, I was tired and I loved every second of it. It was so much more challenging and more rewarding than the easy strolling nature trails I had so far experienced.
Fast forward to spring the next year: I was looking for a part time job where I could work with good people in a fun environment. My mother has shopped at Eddie Bauer for as long as I can remember, and on one such shopping trip there with her, she pointed out to me the ‘Now Hiring’ poster in the fitting room. I applied and a few days later I was sitting down with the store manager for a job interview.
I still remember that interview as clearly as if it was yesterday. The store manager sat me down in her office and told me what Eddie Bauer as a company stood for. The company values of quality and integrity stuck with me. As did the ‘Get Outside’ program for employees. The manager asked me if I considered myself ‘Outdoorsy’ and I eagerly told her about my recent introduction to hiking. I remember being able to name off every hike I had done up to that point (because I had done so few that I could remember them all individually…) and feeling pretty proud of myself. The manager must have seen something in me, because shortly after that interview I started work at Eddie Bauer in the Quinte Mall (Belleville, Ontario).
I started working at EB just before the launch of First Ascent, a brand new, groundbreaking line of mountaineering and technical gear. I remember the excitement in the store as the product started to arrive. A big flat screen tv was installed in the store and showed a continuous loop of daring adventures: climbing mountains, kayaking over waterfalls and all sorts of other incredibly inspirational footage. Watching this footage constantly, seeing the interviews with the guides and athletes made me want to push my boundaries. It showed me that there was a potential for non-traditional careers. It showed me that I could live a life full of adventure.
Working at EB also prepared me for a life of adventure. When I started there, I knew next to nothing about gear. I got a full education in technical fabrics and features, fitting backpacks, how to layer for any weather or any environment and I gained an appreciation for good quality gear and a company that actually stands behind their gear and backs it up with a warranty.
About a year after I first started with EB, I knew the time had come to start trying to find my own adventurous life. I applied for a job as a Park Ranger with Ontario Parks and got hired on at Bon Echo Provincial Park. I spent my summer hiking, paddling and exploring and after that point I knew there was no going back, I had found my passion.
But Parks is a seasonal job. Luckily Eddie Bauer was a place I could go back to for the winters. For five years I worked with Ontario Parks, travelling all over the province hiking and photographing and exploring, returning to the amazing team at Eddie Bauer when the weather turned cold. Throughout my career as a ranger, I practically lived in my Eddie Bauer gear and clothes. I have travelled from coast to coast and have worn my EB and First Ascent gear while hiking mountains, horse packing the mountains, canoeing northern lakes, exploring ice volcanoes and so much more.
About two years ago I moved out to Kananaskis, Alberta where I now work year round as a hiking/snowshoe/canoe guide and firefighter. I am outside every single day, no matter the weather and because of the layering and gear knowledge I learned at Eddie Bauer, I am always prepared.
I am truly living my dreams, sharing my passion for adventure, nature and exploration with people each and every single day. I spend my days paddling clear mountain likes, summiting mountains and exploring waterfalls.
Eddie Bauer really inspired my love for the outdoors and prepared me for my life and career as a professional adventurer. If my gear could talk, it would tell some incredible stories. I still have almost all of the Eddie Bauer gear I started out with, and have added on to it throughout the years. My original Little Tahoma backpack is still one of my most frequently used pieces of gear.
I wouldnt be who I am or where I am today if it wasnt for the inspiration I had while working at Eddie Bauer. It was a part time job that has lead to a life full of adventure.