She’s sweet on the great outdoors!

3 02 2012

Here at the River House we’re excited that Anne Borland was featured in the Register-Guard’s DASH insert on Wednesday.  We’re lucky to have such an accomplished outdoor leader.  Right on, Anne!  Check out the article below.

Whether it’s with skis strapped on or hiking boots laced up, this passionate guide feels most alive out on the mountains.


For Special Publications

Published: (Wednesday, Feb 1, 2012 10:07AM)Midnight, Feb. 1

As a kid growing up in Philadelphia, Anne Borland knew where she belonged. And it wasn’t in the bustling East Coast metropolis where she lived with her parents and three siblings. She longed for a less urban existence — for quiet forests, breathtaking mountains and smog-free skies. She longed for Oregon, but she didn’t know it yet.

“As I kid, I always doodled mountains and sunshine,” says Anne, now a veteran outdoor guide and long-time Eugene resident. “I craved wilderness experiences, but my family was not like that.” Always athletic, Anne played softball and basketball in high school, but she always preferred more individual sports. Her junior year, she quit team sports for good, which opened her up, she says, for more outdoor activities, allowing for more lighthearted play. There’s a certain “glee” in skiing, she says.

She transferred to the University of Oregon at age 19 and signed up for a backpacking class her first term. Backpacking
quickly progressed to rock climbing and cross-country skiing. So began a lifelong devotion to outdoor pursuits, and a home in Oregon.

Anne learned quickly from experts, becoming certified in wilderness medicine and wilderness first response. In 1994, she became an outdoor guide at the city of Eugene Outdoor Program at the River House. Today, she leads rock climbing groups in the summer, and teaches Nordic skiing through the River House in the winter. For the past five years, she also has worked as an adjunct instructor in the Outdoor Pursuits Program at the University of Oregon, helping to groom young outdoor leaders.

Anne says it’s easy to teach when you love what you’re teaching, but working with self-motivated college kids is a special treat. “Within two years, they’re better than you,” she says, laughing.

Over the years, Anne has worked with diverse groups of people — from confident college students and adventurous 60-year-olds to at-risk youths. For eight years, Anne worked with Committed Partners for Youth — now Big Brothers Big Sisters — serving as graphic designer, marketing director and events organizer.

Working with the kids, she began to see a pattern. “There’s a lot of silent youth,” says Anne. Many of the kids she worked with came from abusive homes, and suffered from achingly low self-esteem. Teaching them to climb rocks and navigate rope courses gave them confidence, and a foundation to build from. It also gave them “something to rejoice about,” she says.

Anne herself was quiet and shy as a youngster. “On the East Coast, nothing seemed meaningful enough to talk about,” she says. Here in Oregon, she found her voice — and a reason to rejoice. For Anne, nothing feels more meaningful than gliding through the snow or dangling from a rock cliff.

“The question of ‘what is life all about?’ disappears when you’re out there,” she says. Anne often goes solo on overnight ski trips, but she prefers company — not for competition, but for “passion-sharing.”

On Thursday evenings, she meets up with friends to plan their next adventure. Among the group is Lili Weldon, a geologist Anne befriended 24 years ago in a water aerobics class. Both were pregnant at the time. In the years since, Anne and Lili have shared many journeys and sometimes gotten into sticky situations. But at Anne’s side, Lili feels secure.

“She’s very cautious and aware,” says Lili of Anne. “She makes very wise, well-informed choices, and that elevates her above” many other outdoor people.

Anne has experienced her share of self-doubt, but emergency situations are the true test of leadership, she says. “Your emotions step back and your skills step forward.”

As Anne passes the torch to a new generation of outdoor guides, she not only gives them the skill to lead, but access to the greatest insight of all.

“It’s hard to have a real desk job when you know the secret to life,” she says, “is ongoing play.”

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One response

3 02 2012

Thanks goes to my long time mentors and the River House folks who encourage and help each other grow as leaders and followers. There are so many more wonderful people I know here that could be the focus of this article…… So triple Cheers to you all! 🙂

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