Resurgence and Renewal

It’s hard to believe we are nearly six weeks into the new year. Though it’s a little late, we always find it valuable to pause and take a breath and reflect on the journey that has brought us to this moment. 

The past three years for our organization can be best described by a metaphor shared with me by my friend, Reed Harwood, the owner of Where There Be Dragons,  a leader in experiential education  in the United States. Reed compared business during COVID to the stages of a medical emergency, beginning in an emergency room, then moving to the ICU, a recovery unit, and finally shifting to physical therapy. This analogy couldn’t be more accurate for our organization, as I’m sure it is for many others. 

In March 2020, we witnessed 95% of our business vanish within three weeks and braced ourselves for the challenges ahead. This was our ER, and we scrambled to ensure we would be able to survive what was to come. Watching and waiting from our ICU bed throughout 2020 and into 2021, we did everything we could to keep things afloat, looking for any opportunity that presented itself holding on for better days.Khaetthaleeya Morris sending hard at Progression Vertical Climbing Gym, Chiang Mai

As we entered 2022 and bookings began, we moved into the recovery room. We built Progression Vertical Climbing Gym and began rebuilding our team of dedicated adventurers and professionals as we optimistically looked ahead to a better future. By the end of the year, we had welcomed more than 30 new and old inspirational instructors and facilitators back and entered into one of the busiest months we had ever had.  

This year, we have completed our transition from the recovery room back into action, a form of physical therapy as we regained motion,  feeling and connection. Our entire business has made a roaring comeback. From our climbing gym and outdoor guiding programs at Crazy Horse Buttress, a new Crazy Horse Mobile App to our outdoor education with international schools and corporate facilitation programs, we have so many successes to celebrate.  15th Annual Crag Clean Up Day

In December, we facilitated the 15th Annual Crag Clean Up Day, the first in over five years. Our guiding program, spearheaded by the return of Ooan Kongsingh, has made a vibrant return with new multi-pitch guiding and instruction featuring thrilling routes like The Darkness Beckons and Trojan Horse

Chiang Dao Caving Expedition with Progression CavingOur caving explorations have continued with visits to renowned caves like Chang Dao Cave as well as ventures into  Thailand’s deepest cave. We are currently preparing to return to Doi Angkhang, an area we’ve been surveying for more than 15 years, where we have discovered four of Thailand’s 10 deepest caves.

While we are always excited by technical endeavors, we are also highly committed to building lasting relationships with communities throughout Thailand where we can facilitate transformational learning experiences for youth. Our engagement with key community partners in Mae On and Ban Pong Huai Lan have helped to solidify a solid return for experiential education in Chiang Mai.

In addition to these relationships, we are forging new connections with communities throughout Thailand. This week, we are facilitating a student program in Trang Province, where students will be immersed in the community’s unique culture and traditions.Our relationship with community partners in Trang has allowed us to explore sustainable, community-based tourism in this area.

In conjunction with the program in Trang, we are starting a new student experience in the Satun province, where participants will explore 300-million-year-old fossils, venture into decorated caves, kayak through mountains and geology all while learning from the local communities’ wisdom and kindness.

In October, we also had our first Annual Progression since COVID, where we brought our entire organization together and  revisited our vision and values. We shared stories of connection to our purpose and discussed key actions and behaviors to bring our core values to life every day. 

The past year has allowed our purpose and values to shine. With an incredible team 70 strong, over 200 transformational youth program days delivered for more nearly 2000 students, and more than 115 guided climbing and caving experiences for nearly 300 satisfied customers, we’re beyond excited for the path ahead. The upcoming year promises even more thrilling developments to continue, strengthening relationships with communities we work with, creating opportunities for our team members to share their talents, and ultimately delivering transformational experiences to the customers we serve.

We look forward to continuing to share this journey with you as we Fuel Progression together.