Avid4 Adventure’s Paul Dreyer
Every week, Heidi and Laura from Market Boulder will be sitting down with the entrepreneurs, owners, makers, and builders of Boulder. They’re getting behind the scenes of the market with these unique and inspiring stories that will help everyone see our community in a brand new light.
For those of you who have kids in Colorado, there’s a good chance you’ve heard of the company Avid4 Adventure. As kids become more attached or addicted to screens, it seems as though they are more disconnected from the natural world, and from the joy of authentic adventure. At Avid4 Adventure summer camps in Colorado, California, and Oregon, Avid introduces kids to the power of the outdoors. We sat down with CEO, also known as the Chief Empowerment Officer, Paul Dreyer. He is passionate and committed to empower kids to lead active and healthy lifestyles in the outdoors.
Dreyer moved to the United States from Johannesburg, South Africa, when he was just 4 years old after his father got a job in Boston. Although he grew up all American, he still has many roots and family back in South Africa, where he frequently visits. Dreyer went on to do his undergraduate degree at the University of Michigan, followed by a typical corporate job back in Boston. Despite the great success he saw, he was miserable and hating his life. Enough was enough for Dreyer who decided to flee the fast-paced, work-centric lifestyle of the East Coast to become a ski bum in Utah. This was his entry point to the world of outdoor education, where he was a guide for outdoor adventures that summer all over the Western U.S with a company based out of Boulder. It only took one season for Dreyer to fall in love with Boulder.
Avid4 Adventure was founded in 2004, which was the first year that the United States began to see increasing screen time in children, as well as a spike in childhood obesity and diabetes. It has always been Dreyer’s vision to expand nationwide, since it was children particularly in urban areas who struggled with the lack of engagement in activity and outdoor adventure.
As the current CEO of Avid4 Adventure, Dreyer’s goal is to empower others to be active and enthusiastic about the outdoors. Using a mix of day camps, week-long sleepaway camps, and expedition camps, Avid4 gets kids outdoors to practice their skills as well as gain confidence in real life scenarios. Although Avid4 is based in Boulder, it has locations in 5 different states, two of which are new this year. Children from California, Oregon, Seattle, Colorado, and now, Minnesota, have the opportunity to partake in hiking, paddling, mountain climbing, and mountain biking.
There is a serious issue with a lack of confidence due to social media that Dreyer refers to as “soul sucking”. This is because children are bombarded with unrealistic views of life which can be discouraging when the realities of life set in and the unsustainable nature of social media is more evident. Obviously, not every kid leaves Avid4 with a life altering, transformational experience. However, there are countless stories of kids learning skills, being surrounded by encouraging instructors, and leaving feeling confident in themselves and their capabilities. A huge part of life is failure and perseverance in the face of failure, and Avid4 Adventure teaches this to kids using outdoor activities.
Paul Dreyer lives and breaths the core values and mission of Avid4, even going as far as starting what he calls the “Tour de Camp”, in which he got on his bicycle and rode for 3 weeks from camp to camp. It began two years ago in 2018 when he biked to all of the Colorado locations which is over 200 in one week. The following year, he did “Tour de Camp West” which took him from Portland, Oregon, all the way to California, totaling 750 miles, camping along the way.
In his day to day life, Dreyer lives by all of the 8 core values that Avid4 promotes:
- Live fun
- Live environmentally connected
- Live truth
- Live smart (er)
- Live gratitude
- Live empowered
- Live balanced
- Live community
His favorite? Live gratitude.
Up next for Avid4 Adventure and Paul Dreyer includes continuing to work towards being a leader in diversity, inclusion, and equity in the outdoors space. Dreyer believes this is an important issue across every industry, but in particular, the outdoor industry has had many failings in the world of inclusivity. The work for Dreyer has been difficult, fun, humbling, and inspiring. He describes himself as a white, CIS-gendered male at the pinacle of privilege in American society. What has been humbling for him is to lean into his privilege and acknowledge the many biases and worldviews that are differing from other people. Dreyer looks forward to advocating for those who may be underrepresented in the outdoor adventure industry.
For those interested, you can learn more about Paul Dreyer and Avid4 Adventure at https://avid4.com/.