James Mills is a passionate driver of change. The author of “The Adventure Gap: Changing the Face of the Outdoors,” he has been touring the U.S. to expand the dialogue about diversity—and the lack thereof—in the outdoors.
“There’s something to be said for the general interest in terms of turning around a non-outdoor enthusiast and activating into someone who would like to take it on in earnest,” Mills said, citing one reader who hadn’t heard of NOLS prior to reading the book, then immediately sought out a Wilderness First Responder course.
Mills, too, is a NOLS grad. And he’s found some enduring lessons since his Alaska Mountaineering – Adult course. In the midst of a book tour, he noted the important intersection of self-care and teamwork.
“It’s important to take into consideration things that are critical or important to your best efforts to be successful while at the same time relying on others to make up any shortcomings you have,” Mills reflected. “Whether your objective is on the glacier is preparing a talk for a university or putting yourself in a situation where you are divining a new initiative of encouraging more people to spend more time outside. You may have all the best intentions, energy, and enthusiasm but need the help of other people to drive your best efforts forward.”
Expedition Denali has proven the power of teamwork, collaboration, and individual efforts and focus. While the climbers made their way up North America’s tallest peak, crews were filming their efforts, sharing their field reports with the world and, in the case of Mills, researching extensively and writing copiously.
He continues to share the stories of Expedition Denali and other heroes of color in earnest to inspire youth of color to explore—and fall in love with—the outdoors. He hopes to expand his book tour to the South next. Stay tuned to his website and Facebook page for details about book tour events in your area.
“I think it’s really important to acknowledge that this work isn’t over yet,” Mills concluded. “Expedition Denali … was the beginning and not the culmination of our efforts moving forward. We can’t just end here.”
Casey worked as a writer and PR specialist for NOLS.