Claire Smallwood and SheJumps

“In a Gentle way you can shake the world.”

-Mahatma Gandhi

an image of Claire Smallwood Skiing Trees

Copyright Brian Stevenson
www.brianstevensonphotography.com

Claire Smallwood is making an impact!  Not just in Alta, Utah but throughout the country!   Sharing her love of the outdoors with other women and children comes naturally. Claire is making a difference in the lives of countless individuals who have become educated in outdoor sports and safety and with those who have adopted a new hobby through the various opportunities offered through her non-profit SheJumps.

Claire Smallwood plays in the snow

Photo provided by Claire Smallwood

Born and raised in Santa Fe, New Mexico, Claire is a 5th-generation New Mexican whose whole family (with the exception of her older brother and herself) still live in state.  In 2007 Claire graduated from Lewis & Clark College in Portland, Oregon with a degree in Foreign Languages and Literature (with a focus on French and Spanish).

First learning to ski at 5 years old at Ski Santa Fe in New Mexico, her love for the outdoors grew to become much more than a personal passion and led to a desire to see others have the same life-changing opportunities through lifetime sports. As a founding member of SheJumps, Claire has worked hard to share her love of the outdoors with others.

SBM: How long have you been skiing?

Claire: My stepmom first took me skiing when I was 5, but I didn’t start going every weekend until I was about 12 years old. So, about 20 years, give or take!

Claire Smallwood Executive Director

Photo provided by Claire Smallwood

SBM: Besides skiing what are your passions?

Claire: I think saying that I love being in the outdoors is pretty obvious, so to pinpoint a little more, it’s always been about community. The first and main way I have ever discovered what “community” means is through skiing.  Whether it’s in the backcountry, at the resort, or just being outside in a snowstorm, I love the snow and all the things that go along with it.

Aside from skiing, I also really enjoy road biking. I haven’t had the money for an amazing mountain bike in the past few years, but I found that the investment I made into my road bike has been amazing. I recently started learning to kiteboard as well. In the summer I love hiking and attempting to get better at rock climbing.

I also love to cook. I love to bring people together with food, and how nourishing and comforting it can be.

SBM: We recently learned that you speak several languages including Spanish, French and Wolof. What is the trick to learning multiple languages?

Claire: I am not sure if there is a trick so much as you have to be willing to keep working at it. However, if I could think of one trick it would be to think about how the language is structured in normal day-to-day sentences. Native-English speakers often try to translate things directly as we would say them, and often that’s not how sentences are structured in other languages. Figuring that out can usually open up a lot of new understanding! Also, don’t be afraid to sound like a 4 year old when you are just learning!

SBM: You are clearly a very passionate and energetic person, what gives you inspiration?

Claire:  I get inspired by a lot of the unsung heroes out there. I know there are a lot of women and men who do really amazing things in the outdoors and in the world. Especially with so much instant media at our disposal these days, it’s amazing to be able to tell those stories and share their adventures, but there are so many people out there that live and do that stuff just…because. Maybe they never felt comfortable talking about themselves or they never wanted the attention. I feel like those people are inspiring because it makes you question why you do things. I will admit that there have been times when I stood on top of an epic peak or skied some sweet line and was like “oh, I need to take a picture of that and post it to my Facebook page.” Then I realized that the other 4 people I was with were simply just looking around, etching the moment to their own personal photo bank. There’s definitely a balance there–sharing the story with people who want to know and be inspired, but I like the idea of keeping some things separate and more existential.

SBM:  You are the Executive Director and Co-Founder of SheJumps. Tell us about the organization.

Claire:  SheJumps is a 501c(3) organization dedicated to increasing the participation of females in outdoor activities. We believe that the mentality of “if she can do it, so can I” is something that can be taught by introducing new opportunities for women to be in the outdoors. We like to offer basic, technical skills that help women feel more self-sufficient: bike maintenance clinics, fly fishing, wilderness first aid, avalanche education. We also offer fun and supportive events like “Get the Girls Out” days to bring more women together and really explore the mantra: “if she can do it, so can I.”

Copyright Brian Stevenson www.brianstevensonphotography.com

Copyright Brian Stevenson
www.brianstevensonphotography.com

SBM: When did SheJumps begin?

Claire: SheJumps began in 2006 when Lynsey Dyer and Vanessa Pierce started a blog that showcased inspirational “unsung” heroines that loved being in the outdoors. Lynsey’s hobby was taking profile photos of people and Vanessa, a journalist, loved to write profile pieces. In 2007, I got involved and helped to move the organization towards the mission that we have today where we can more effectively help more females reach their goals in the outdoors (and, just get started).

SBM:  What is the inspiration behind SheJumps?

Claire:  The inspiration behind SheJumps I think stems from a female’s innate desire to be communal and supportive. A lot of women say stuff like, “I’m usually the only girl in a group of guys going and doing stuff in the outdoors.” We are just trying to offer more ways for women to come together and have those experiences. Not everyone is lucky enough to have a mom, dad, significant other, or grandparent to take them skiing, biking, fishing, or climbing. Creating opportunities to learn these things and participate in a supportive and encouraging all-female environment is more fun. (we don’t have the science to back this up, but just join us and you’ll see!) Also, girls are more likely to speak their minds, ask questions, and pipe up when something doesn’t feel right. So we are hopefully giving women more tools to make decisions with in the outdoors.

SBM:  We love the Girafficorn, what does it stand for?

Claire:  The Girafficorn was created by Lynsey Dyer and trademarked by SheJumps last year. We use it as our magical mascot; it’s the eyes, ears, and spirit of SheJumps. The Girafficorn represents having your feet on the ground, but your head in the clouds (above chaos and drama) and having a little bit of magic to get you through the obstacles and challenges of life.

Claire Smallwood Hiking

Photo provided by Claire Smallwood

SBM: How can the average girl contribute to the SheJumps mission?

Claire: There are a few ways. You can contact your local regional coordinator through our website to find out about events or volunteer opportunities. Also, we are always in need of donations to help our programming to continue to grow. Lastly, but most importantly, just continue to get outside and feel free to share your story and your adventures through our social media outlets. You can befriend SJ Girafficorn on Facebook, as well as like our page, SheJumps.org. We are on Instagram and Twitter with @shejumps and #shejumps .

SBM: Why do you feel that it is so important to get girls involved in lifestyle sports at such an early age?

Claire:  That is such an important question. Studies show that young girls are more likely to fall out of practice with organized sports between the ages of 11-13. So if you didn’t have it drilled into you when you were young that it is super important to be active and healthy, then it would probably be much harder to pick it up as an adult. But sports are more important than just being healthy; they help to develop a young girl’s sense of self and accomplishment. I personally was never the best soccer player on the team and in 12 years of competitive swimming I failed to ever qualify individually for a state championship (ugh!), but those activities fostered a sense of discipline and empowerment through basic sweat and tears.

Outdoor activities like hiking, fishing, biking, or skiing and snowboarding create lifestyles built around activities. Instead of going to the gym all the time, the outdoors becomes your gym. When I really fell in love with skiing, it wasn’t because I found out I was good at it. I have still to this day never raced a gate in my life–I fell in love with it because I realized it was an endless, ageless path through which you could discover the outdoors and meet people of all backgrounds and ages.

SBM: Share with us some of the success stories that have been linked to your organization.

Claire: One of my favorite success stories from our programs is about this young man named Aaron. Aaron was a participant in one of our youth programs in Utah called (S)heJumps in the Canyon where our SheJumpers take Boys & Girls club teens up to Alta for four different Saturdays in the month of March and teach them to ski. It was the last Saturday of our 2013 program and Aaron had failed to show up. He was one of the more gifted skiers and we were all bummed to see him miss the last session. Low and behold, around noon, Aaron shows up on his bicycle that he had just ridden all the way from the West Valley to Alta (around 15 miles with 4,000 vertical foot gain, at least). Aaron missed the bus that morning but still managed to make it Alta for the camp.

The best part of this story is that Aaron went on after graduating high school to be a full-time liftie at Alta. It was so cool to see one of our program participants decide to really make skiing a part of his healthy lifestyle.

Claire Smallwood Touring

Photo provided by Claire Smallwood

SBM: Besides being the Executive Director of She Jumps you are also a business owner.  How do you manage your time with all these busy roles and what do you do in your downtime?

During the North American winter I am so busy it’s basically ridiculous! I have been the assistant manager at the Wildcat Chalet for the past 6 years in Alta, Utah and that job requires my presence almost every single night of the ski season between December to April. I also do freelance private chef work. My day time is free to work on SheJumps, but of course I also still want to get outside and play. My goal would be to transition to a more full-time position with SheJumps but our funding doesn’t allow it at the moment. When I do have downtime, I just try to make sure I’m still getting out and going skiing–the whole reason I moved to Utah and found myself so inspired with SheJumps in the first place. I also try to save up and plan a trip to South America every year to ski down there. It’s amazing in the Andes and the sense of adventure down there truly reinvigorates my spirit and passion for SheJumps every year. It’s my own personal jump.

Claire:  Who inspires you most?

SBM: There are so many people who inspire me! At the most basic level, it’s anyone who just decides they want something and goes for it. They are never satisfied, but are willing to go with the flow, be relative to the goals, and keep others in mind around them–know when to turn around, when to keep pushing, and when someone is in need. If I could name a shortlist, it would include my older brother Joey, my good friend and co-founder Lynsey Dyer (who is never afraid to ask the tough questions), Anne Keller (her passion for the mountains and grace under pressure will be something I will always look up to), my best friend Molly Baker (a true intellectual disguised as a professional free skier), and my mother, Amy Bigbee, who has never let me give up, even when I thought I did.

SBM:  What brings you the most joy?

Claire: Powder, goggle tans, waves, clouds, snow storms, high fives, margaritas, my family & friends.

SBM: What are your plans for the summer?   What are your favorite summer sports?

Claire:  This summer I plan to continue to develop SheJumps programming and then head to Chile and Argentina in August for some summer shredding and ski mountaineering adventures! I just bought a SUP board and I am getting psyched to explore Utah’s bodies of water with it! Always looking for an adventure partner, hint hint!

Claire’s giving nature and ability to lift up those around her is evident and just plain inspirational to the girls at snowbunnymag.com.  We admire greatly Claire Smallwood not only for what she has accomplished but for the amazing example she is to women everywhere. To learn more about Claire and SheJumps, check out their website at http://www.shejumps.org/or like their page on Facebook.

About Misty Broesicke

Our Chief Executive Bunny, Misty Broesicke grew up in Orange County, California and made her way to Idaho at 27 years old.  At twenty-nine she learned to snowboard and it quickly developed into a love and passion.  
With a background in rock climbing Misty has combined her passion for both sports as she develops her skills in backcountry snowboarding and mountaineering.   

She has three children,  two “fur” babies and resides with them, and her boyfriend in Boise, Idaho. She is passionate about raising her family to love and take care of the amazing planet we live on while at the same time enjoying the beauty of it by getting outside as often as possible.  

Misty started Snow Bunny Magazine as way to further her own love of outdoor lifestyle sports, while at the same time building up other women and youth through them. 

She is surrounded by an amazing team of women, and that she believes is her greatest strength.