Carrie Bonds benefits Greensboro customers with her lifetime spent outdoors (and her smile)
For the next little while, we’ll be profiling the folks who are the backbone of Great Outdoor Provision Co. Though their roles may differ — from outfitting you for adventure, to managing stores, to determining the gear we carry — they share one uniting trait: a love of outdoor adventure. Today: Carrie Bonds in our Greensboro` store.
When Carrie Bonds’ brimming smile greets you as you walk into our shop in Greensboro’s Friendly Shopping Center, it won’t surprise you to learn that Carrie is doing what she loves, what she’s loved for as long as she can remember. “Growing up, our family spent most of our summers and holidays exploring North Carolina and the Southeast, from the mountains to the coast.” Come summer, Carrie, her folks and her younger brother would take one- and two-week vacations from their home in Kernersville, driving up Virginia’s Skyline Drive and camping along the way, driving the Blue Ridge Parkway and doing the same. “Sometimes, we’d go up to Hanging Rock for the week and my father would join us on the weekend.”
While Carrie has been with Great Outdoor Provision Co. since 2008, during that time she’s also worked for the Nantahala Outdoor Center, Wellspring Adventure Camp and SUWS of the Carolinas, earned a graduate degree from Appalachian State University. She currently teaches online courses in Wilderness Therapy at Southwestern Community College in Sylva.
We caught Carrie with some rare free time this week and asked her about her love of the outdoors.
Q. Who first introduced you to the outdoor lifestyle?
My parents. They enjoying being outdoors and camping, whether it’s at the beach, the mountains, Hanging Rock, Linville Gorge. (See above.)
Q. Where in the Triad do you escape for a quick adventure?
City and county parks, gardens and lakes, as well as downtown areas. I love to explore natural habitats and photograph flowers, water features, sunsets and the changing of the seasons, and discover interesting art, architecture and natural features in urban areas.
Some of my favorite spots are the Guilford Alamance Marina, Paul J. Ciener Botanical Garden and Bur-Mill Park. I like Cedarock Park in Alamance County — it’s got several options for hiking trails and great natural features. There’s also an old grist mill, old settlements, old rock walls. And there’s a historical working farm. I also like to explore downtown Burlington — I live in Burlington — and look at how cities incorporate nature into an urban setting.
Q. What about the Triad area makes the GOPC shop in Greensboro unique?
The Triad is place that cultivates outdoor experiences while still providing the conveniences of an urban setting. Triad organizations — city and county parks and rec departments, public gardens, city and county lakes, Piedmont Land Conservancy, Friends of the Mountains-to-Sea Trail, GetHiking! — offer opportunities for one day or multi-day adventures that can help community members stay connected with the natural world. These experiences are accessible and make it possible for people to enjoy & be back at work the next day.
I often visit the Tanger Family Bicentennial Garden before or after work because it is in such close proximity to our Greensboro shop. It is a place to relax and refresh, and get ready for (or unwind) from the day!
Q. What’s a particularly big trend you see right now?
Explore and Support locally. We are fortunate to have a lot of local organizations and businesses that provide quality products & engaging opportunities for our community. Also, a lot of people are visiting farmer’s markets, eating at farm-to-table establishments, buying local products like Farm to Feet, supporting local & regional breweries and vineyards. It’s exciting to be a part of a community that has such valuable offerings and to see people supporting each other in their development!
Q. What’s your most memorable extended travel?
Backpacking and fishing with friends at Cape Lookout back in the early 2000s. It would have been my first extended back country trip. We spent one incredible day and night on the island: views, sun, swimming, fishing, grilling the fish we caught, watching a lightning storm over the ocean from our tents. Our boat broke down the second day while we were out chasing mackerel, and we had to regroup and figure out a way to get our gear off the island. We rearranged the rest of our week for front country and traveled south to north on the Outer Banks exploring lots of lighthouses & historical spots along the way. It was a great example of expedition mentality and making the best of an unexpected situation.
Q. Tell us about your backcountry work with youth and young adults.
I worked in the public school system for a number of years, and in 2006, I left the classroom to pursue a degree in Outdoor Leadership. My goals were to learn more about leadership, experiential methodology, and to gain skills to lead expeditions. In 2008, I earned an associate’s degree in Outdoor Leadership from Southwestern Community College.
While in the ODL program, I rediscovered my passion for supporting people in personal growth and development, and realized my love for leading expeditions. With that knowledge, I took a job at SUWS of the Carolinas in January 2009. I worked as a field instructor from January 2009 until May 2012. While in the program, I spent a summer working as an assistant clinician for SUWS’s Family Program and two semesters as a clinical intern (intern field supervisor) with Kevin Waller at Phoenix Outdoors (part of SUWS).
As a wilderness therapy field instructor, I facilitated backpacking trips with groups in the Pisgah National Forest near Old Fort, NC. The students were in the program an average of 56 days. Instructors rotated, and the groups were resupplied every 8 days. So, I worked 8 days on and 6 days off.
It was an honor to be able to work in the wilderness to see how nature and the backpacking experience supported many in finding themselves, learning, and healing. When we go into the woods, everything seems to quiet down and become simpler. This is an opportunity to find peace and clarity, as well as inner strengths and resources.
My time as a field instructor and earning the distinction of master wilderness field instructor continues to be one of the most meaningful experiences in my life.
Q. Do you have a memorable story or two about a customer? An odd request, a strange tale of adventure, a peculiar return?
I helped a young woman and her mother gear up for a trip. She explained to me that she wasn’t sure about her path in life because she loved the outdoors and didn’t know what to do with that. I told her of my experiences and gave her a list of academic outdoor programs and expedition opportunities to look into. Later she brought her boyfriend to the shop to meet me. She explained that I had supported her in finding direction in her life. It was very humbling.
Q. What’s your favorite spot to backpack?
Cape Lookout National Seashore and the Pisgah National Forest.
Q. And to hike?
Q. What’s your favorite gear?