20 Jun 2018

Living The Dream: Boréale Explorers

WORDS x Marsha Cameron
PHOTOS x Ross Bell

Small businesses are the backbone of economies and there are countless people working to follow their dreams and back their ideas. These people have taken the enormous leap from an annoying idea that won’t leave their heads into a full-blown, scary-as-hell, work-80-hours-a-week, get-stressed reality. The mountain bike world is full of such stories and over a series of weeks we’re highlighting some of these small businesses by asking them about their dream, what lessons they have learnt, and any advice they may have. Maybe it can inspire you to follow your dreams?

This week, we travel all the way to the Yukon in Canada and catch up with one half of the dynamic duo at Boréale Explorers, Marsha Cameron. We have personally visited Boréale and Marsha and her team have infected us with a certain something that makes us want to plan another visit, and soon.

Marsha Cameron – Boréale Explorers

Marsha is a co-owner of Boréale Explorers, a year-round adventure lodge in Yukon, Canada. It initially started as Boréale Biking and offered all-inclusive MTB trips in summer based out of a yurt camp. That simple idea has now evolved over the last 11 years, season-by-season, dollar-by-dollar, to become a year-round lodge, with MTB in summer and aurora adventure trips in the winter months. And among the backdrop of all this, and in a town of only 35,000 or so people, they have also created a 150 rider-strong youth mountain bike club in the Yukon to encourage future riders.

What and when was the dream/spark that started it all?

Not sure there was really a spark moment, rather a idea that has kept momentum over all these years. The idea just keeps growing.

What made you take that giant leap?

I just realized one day that I didn’t want to work for someone else anymore. A concept started formulating during an extended North/Central America road trip about how life is actually what you do every day. Whether you’re working or travelling, in reality it is just another day in your life. And I really liked my independent lifestyle so I wanted to find a method to finance it in a way that made me excited to be a part of whatever was created. I found I really, really enjoyed – found satisfaction – in having an idea and implementing it. Even if it meant failure. Because failure of an idea begets new opportunities. The moment you attempt something you haven’t done before, you’re already steps ahead of the earlier version of you. I absolutely adore ideas and nothing makes me lean forward with bright eyes more than hearing someone describe some crazy idea that they have in mind. Creativity is precious!

What were you doing previous to this (or indeed still doing)?

I was studying natural resource conservation and doing odd contract jobs, mostly funding my travels and trying to facilitate being a rascal for as long as I could.

How many hours per week do you work on this business?

All of them? While it feels like that, I actually alternate with the other co-owner and work one month onsite at the lodge and one month offsite, virtually.

What’s the best part of your job?

It’s a cliché, but all the people. The people I work with and spend every day with are some of the most generous and hilarious humans I’ve ever met. The guests that come through all have a story to bring to the table and we share a laugh. Another best part is the constant reminder that common experiences bring people together and I’m lucky enough to work in an industry where these experiences and memories are usually fun and smile inducing.

What is the worst part of your job?

The suffocating feeling of never keeping up, or always being one step behind. Finding the constant investment money that this business needs for necessary development to become a profitable business. But this is all part of growth. If I sit and think too seriously about it all, panic ensues. So I try to not do that. I prefer to sit in the hot tub each night and stare at the stars and remind myself it’s really OK to dream big and to want the best and that, with hard work, it will ‘pay off’.

What lessons have your learnt?

The importance of surrounding yourself with others who are also taking a different life path than the one we were told to aspire to as children. People who explore their ideas are pretty rare, so make sure you spend time with them. It’s so good for your soul! Also, every ‘overnight success’ has had years and years of panic, negative bank accounts, insomnia, loneliness and self-doubt. None of which feel awesome.

What advice would you offer others?

Work hard and surround yourself with people who make you want to reach higher and be better. Invest your time in those people. And if you choose to do this with a business partner, choose someone who has a similar vision and work ethic and keep open communication as the biggest priority. None of where I am in life right now would ever be possible without my business partner! And I can’t imagine who I would be otherwise, to be honest.

Check out Boréale Explorers for yourself.

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