I have always loved and been drawn towards the outdoors. After moving to Montana at the beginning of my college career, I was introduced to various outdoor recreation that I could enjoy all year round. I have been lucky enough to have made some of my favorite memories while being immersed in the outdoors rather than my phone or computer. Over the past few years, I have worked various jobs in hospitality, tourism, and outdoor recreation, helping tourists experience Montana in an unforgettable way. I wanted these people to feel connected to the mountains, the glacial lakes, and the wildlife they came across, to leave the state only craving to come back for their next adventure.
With the uncertainty held in place at the beginning of this season, I was worried that I wasn’t going to be able to do what I loved. The two jobs that I had at an outdoor company and a resort were directly affected by the pandemic, and I was constantly concerned if I was going to keep my position. During June, I worked full time and experienced constant trial and error as health regulations were frequently changing, and places were closing down. Whenever a guest asked me questions about activities that they could still do during their trip, I felt guilty when I had to tell them some places and businesses were closed for the time being. Instead of being upset when I broke the news, they were excited about the possibility of doing things that weren’t originally on their itinerary.
After becoming more aware of available open opportunities, I helped visitors remain aware of the positives and how to stay safe while experiencing the local nature. I worked closely with tourists and guests from all around the country, who were excited to be visiting somewhere where social distancing is an easy thing to do. This realization helped me understand that although the summer here didn’t look or feel like it has in the past, there were still ways to stay safe and make the most out of it. I was so happy to continue making connections and relationships with guests in a new way that kept us safe and healthy.
The support and patience that I witnessed while working in the outdoor and tourism industry this year made me so thankful to live and work in such a beautiful place that everyone wants to enjoy. Even through a pandemic, action was taken, and responsibilities were made to ensure that outdoor experiences could still be possible.
Although this year has felt like an obstacle course, always having to change directions and find the safest route, nothing was done alone. With the help of management at the companies I worked at, encouraging community and exceptionally patient and excited tourists, we could see the season through. We could take a deep sigh of relief to know that all the long days full of uncertainty and worry were switched back to the days of excitement and adventure.