Foster is a special place. Each class and individual has the chance to shape their own experience and the experiences of classes to follow. This year I was a part of planning many firsts: the inaugural Foster Cup, pitting first and second years students against each other in activities ranging from flag football to chess; the birth of the Foster Foodies Club, with the mission of bringing students together through a love of food; the first annual Pacific Northwest Case Competition that assembled numerous MBA programs to compete in a 24-hour case competition; and, lastly, my own brain child – the Challenge for Charity Mt. Rainier Fundraising Climb.
I spent the last 5 years dedicating most of my free time to climbing and mountaineering. It is a deep passion of mine, and I honed many of my leadership and teamwork skills in that environment. Coming into the program, I was determined to make an impactful change, and this was the area where I really felt I could add value. Many other MBA programs have guide run outdoor leadership opportunities; my vision was to create an organically grown Foster experience. What evolved was the chance to add a new fundraising avenue and develop business skills, while also attempting a climb of the lower 48th most heavily glaciated peak and Washington’s tallest – Mt. Rainier. My idea quickly gained support from the administration and the rest was a matter of garnering a will from within the program to form a dedicated team and prepare a fundraising drive. The team was easy in that it self-selected itself. Once the climbing team was assembled, I set-up small committees to help with all aspects of the climb. The biggest challenges were in marketing the climb to get donations, and in creating a training plan to prepared the novice climbers for a physically, mentally, and technically challenging climb.
Over the next 6 months, everyone in the Foster community was essential in helping the plan come to fruition; classmates that weren’t on the climb supported in countless ways including setting up fundraising happy hours and helping to teach mountaineering skills, and everyone on the climb sacrificed weekend after weekend for conditioning work and to learn the technical skills required. These months of hard work would culminate on July 4th weekend, as we set forth to conquer Mt. Rainier.
Until that weekend, the greatest parts of the journey had already happened: we formed close bonds with classmates, collaboratively incubated a stretch goal into something real, and raised $7,000 for the Special Olympics and Boys and Girls Club that will help Foster in the upcoming year’s Challenge for Charity Competition.
By 6:30 am on July 4th, all eleven of us had reached the Mt. Rainier Summit. That intense moment of realization of what my extremely ambitious and slightly crazy idea combined with the Foster Community’s passion, determination, and collaboration had and could accomplish stands as my greatest moment out of the countless I have during all my mountaineering feats. This was far more than just a climb.
For a complete account of the climb, and the numerous conditioning climbs, check out the Mt. Rainier Fundraising Climb Blog: http://fostermtrainier.blogspot.com/
~ Scott Heinz, Class of 2012, Guest Blogger and Outdoors Extraordinaire