An interview with Breckenridge Outdoor Education Center program director, Jaime Overmyer
Interview by Jeremy Lux, article written by Eric Z. Gasa
In her interview with Jeremy Lux on the Life in Motion podcast, Jaime Overmyer can hardly contain herself. Between the laughter and smiles, the wilderness program director at the Breckenridge Outdoor Education Center in Colorado, is always more than excited to talk about her job. We certainly can’t blame her. It’s not every day that you get paid to help folks with disabilities take to the great outdoors. Originally from Michigan, Overmyer grew up hitting the slopes skiing and knows a thing or two about recreation in fact she has a degree in it. No kidding!
“It’s a dream come true. I have a degree in commercial recreation from Michigan State and I can truly say I’m living in the coolest place on the planet,” Overmyer says, “and I’m actually using my degree! Everybody, tell my mom!” she jokes. But jokes aside, the woman is full of goodwill and compassion for those who need it the most. For the latest episode of the Life in Motion podcast, she and Jeremy Lux discuss her org, BOEC, the great outdoors, and why sometimes the best thing you can do in life is to just extend a helping hand.
By the “coolest place on the planet” Overmyer of course means her now native Colorado, a place she has come to love and call home. But what kept her in the Centennial State wasn’t the mountains, skiing, and summers, but a once-in-a-lifetime internship opportunity. Some people expect to get a job off the street, well Overmyer somehow managed to snag one while on a chairlift.
While skiing, Overmyer happened to strike up a conversation with the BOEC intern director while riding a chairlift. The director must’ve been impressed because she invited her to ski down and meet at her office nearby. Overmyer did just that, hanging up her skis in the office and jumping right into an interview. As you can surmise, Overmyer got the position and 18 years later is still going strong with BOEC.
So, what is BOEC? Overmyer’s org is a center dedicated to expanding the potential of disabled folks through meaningful outdoor experiences. This includes their summer camps, retreats, and ski programs that run all year long. BOEC’s focus is on those with autism, sensory disorders, brain and spine injuries, and much, much more. In short, these guys are in the business of ensuring a great accessible time to those who would otherwise not have the opportunity.
It’s admirable motives like these that get Overmyer so excited about getting up every morning. And even if it weren’t for BOEC’s great community support and fundraising, Overmyer would be just as dedicated to giving folks some fun.
“You give me some duct tape and a pool noodle, and I can get you to do just about any outdoor activity,” she chuckles. “But that’s certainly a big draw for me here; to have fun, to be creative. I really like the challenge of figuring out how do I make them accessible for everybody…I just want everybody to be able to have fun no matter what.”
And to be more specific, what Overmyer means by “fun” is everything from wheel-chair accessible rope courses, whitewater rafting, canoeing, paddle boarding, overnight camping, adaptive skiing, and snowboarding, throughout Colorado and Utah.
One special memory Overmyer has with the program involves an individual with short-term memory loss due to a traumatic brain injury. The two loved each other’s company but unfortunately due to his disability, the gentleman could never remember Overmyer’s name, Jaime until one day it just stuck. It’s a memory that Overmyer looks back on warmly.
“He remembered my name finally and that was just a really big moment. And of course, he laughed, and then later that day he couldn’t remember my name,” she chuckles, “But you know it was just a very meaningful moment to me. We think of these people as friends, not just a client or patient.”
When speaking to Overmyer one can certainly feel the level of compassion she has for her program; you can hear it in her voice and see it in her actions. BOEC may be a small operation but it’s an org with an outsized impact on its community; something that Overmyer couldn’t be prouder of.
“We call it a big little nonprofit; we’re still pretty little in the grand scheme of things, but we’re big with what we do,” she says.
But just as the interview could not get any more wholesome, Overmyer drops an important piece of advice for those looking towards advocacy and nonprofit work as a career.
“The best advice I can give is this: just be yourself. Say hello and ask if anybody needs any help. And if they don’t, they’ll tell you and that’s awesome too. But just be open and willing to be yourself. I can guarantee you that’s the best way you’re going to have the most fun in this life.”
You’d be hard-pressed to find wiser words than that, but for Jaime Overmyer it’s just another day in the coolest place on Earth.
For more information on BOEC and its programs check out their website www.boec.org as well as their socials on Facebook and Instagram. And for the full scoop on Overmyer and her amazing story tune in to her full interview with Jeremy Lux on the Life in Motion podcast available on Apple Podcasts and Spotify.