Behind the Desk… is an ongoing series that profiles people influencing and advancing the climbing industry across the country. This month, CBJ heads out of the gyms and into the mountains to talk to Emily Moore, the Events Manager at the Climbing Wall Association. Moore sits on the board of the Flatirons Climbing Council in Boulder, Colorado, and took a few minutes out of a busy day to talk about communal support, the privilege of climbing access, and why it is important to volunteer.
CBJ: Climbing Wall Association is a non-profit organization that offers a wide array of information and consultation and resources to gyms around the country. What inspired you to pursue an ongoing role at a climbing non-profit?
MOORE: I was privileged to be given access to this sport through friends who mentored me through my first figure eight knots, multi-pitch climbs, and boulder top-outs. Climbing has brought a connected and supportive community to my life, and with the expansion of the climbing gym industry, I’m glad to know that more folks can have access to this kind of community.
Working at a climbing nonprofit, the CWA, means I get to focus on big picture problems facing the climbing world, which keeps life interesting. I’ve had the opportunity to collaborate with some exceptional leaders and changemakers who believe in the power of climbing and have dedicated their lives to making climbing a better experience for more people. It is very fulfilling to have this meaningful career opportunity that demands all of my skills in service of, ultimately, community development.
CBJ: Why did you decide to help Flatirons Climbing Council (FCC)?
MOORE: How it came together was all very happenstance. I reached out to the FCC after noticing one of their events on Facebook. I wanted to attend, but I was going to be out of town, so I checked their website for an events calendar and reached out over email to find out about volunteering opportunities. It turned out the FCC was in need of a new board member to support outreach and social media efforts.
The FCC has built important relationships to ensure sport climbing can be sustainably developed in the Flatirons. Climbing access is a privilege, not necessarily a right! And the FCC board members have invested a great deal of personal time over the years to ensure this privilege is maintained. I feel lucky to have the chance to contribute to this mission and learn from these board members who are setting a strong leadership example for our community.
CBJ: Now that you’re on the FCC board, any words of wisdom or caution to others considering non-profit roles?
MOORE: I think the key is developing a strong sense of personal balance. If you work for a nonprofit, it’s likely that there are more problems to solve than there are resources to put towards them. Rather than getting overwhelmed, or taking on too much, it’s an important lesson to learn when to say ‘no’ in service of your top priorities. You’ll be happier and healthier for it, and so will your families and partners and colleagues. This comes easier for some people, but I’ve had to hone that over the years.
CBJ: Why do you think volunteering is important for people who work in the [climbing] business?
MOORE: We are all so busy! Volunteering has always been this reset button for me. It reminds me to slow down and consider the big picture. There are plenty of opportunities to volunteer in the climbing world, whether for an event, or a local climbing organization, or with public land organizations. It’s important to take the time, even if it’s just once or twice a year, to offer your support to these causes that keep our community strong. And I think it’s contagious: once I get that energy boost that comes from getting involved with a volunteer event, I’m motivated to continue giving my time and encouraging my network to get involved, too.
CBJ: What’s the best part of volunteering?
MOORE: In the past, I more frequently volunteered as a one-off contributor. That is still a meaningful way to support community efforts, because it’s accessible to those with busy schedules. I’ve enjoyed supporting the FCC in an ongoing capacity because I’ve been able to dig deeper into the mission and learn more about the mechanics of volunteer-run organizations. If you have the time to commit to an ongoing volunteer position, I would recommend getting involved.
John Burgman is the author of High Drama, a book that chronicles the history of American competition climbing. He is a Fulbright journalism grant recipient and a former magazine editor. He holds a master’s degree from New York University and bachelor’s degree from Miami University. In addition to writing, he coaches a youth bouldering team. Follow him on Twitter @John_Burgman and Instagram @jbclimbs