We’re so stoked to share that Cam Fields, veteran, splitboarder, and Give’r HQ team member was featured last week on Dirt Bag Diaries, a podcast about outdoor adventure and human experience. Cam has a hard and inspiring story and his work to overcome PTSD and provide others with the opportunity to do the same embodies everything we believe that it means to truly give it your all. It’s an honor for us to work alongside Cam and call him a member of our team. You can listen to the podcast episode here and learn a little bit about Cam’s journey below.
Growing up in Lake Tahoe, Cam learned to ski right around the time he learned to walk and learned to snowboard as soon as he got his hands on one. Under the influence of the early pro boarders on tv and at his local mountain, Cam knew from an early age snowboarding would be more than just a hobby.
Twenty years later, Cam found himself at a low point. After serving as a corpsman in the Navy, he was struggling with returning to civilian life. Shortly after he left home to pursue his AMGA Guide Certification, his partner filed for divorce. Dealing with PTSD alone without a real support system or community, Cam had contemplated suicide until a friend invited him to go surfing. “What I took with me into that water, didn’t come back out with me,” says Cam. He knew he wanted to provide this experience to other veterans who struggled in the same ways he did following their time in the service: “I decided I wanted to do this for vets, but I can barely surf. There’s no way I could teach this, but I knew I could teach people how to ride a frozen wave.”
Quickly after Field’s healing experience in the ocean, he started Front Country Foundation, a non-profit organization that provides veterans with “SHRED therapy” equipping them with the tools and knowledge they need to explore the backcountry in order to give them an outlet and community to support them and break the cycle of trauma and PTSD. Veterans are often already prepared with the mapping and planning skills that are required to navigate the backcountry and learning to backcountry ski or split board allows them the chance to utilize those skills for a positive experience.
FCF trips are meant to be much more than a clinic or vacation. Cam intends his programs to jumpstart participant’s healing and provide them with a supportive community of other veterans. Additionally, Cam selects participants who have access to continue backcountry recreation at home so that they can continue to use the skills that they acquire. FCF has received some funding, but up until recently Cam has paid the price mostly out of pocket.
For now, FCF is based out of Jackson, WY, but Cam has plans to train other instructors to spread their efforts to other locations. He can’t stand the thought of needing to turn down applicants who could be close to giving up, but recent support from Backcountry.com and other corporations has allowed Cam to make more plans to expand FCF and reach more vets. In Cam’s eyes, FCF is a life-saving mission: “This is about keeping one more name off of a bracelet.”