Climbing in Her Own Direction

"Confidence has a big part in everything. Aim high and challenge yourself," Ellyn Gibbs, a Minnesota State University, Mankato junior majoring in Mass Media said. Arriving at Minnesota State Mankato from her home town of Stanchfield, Minn., a small community north of the Twin Cities, Ellyn’s curious spirit is what has begun to lead her down an exciting new path of adventure, learning and self-discovery.

During her Mass Media coursework, Ellyn discovered blogging. It was different than the writing she was doing for the campus newspaper, The Reporter. It was a way to create a personal, yet professional, portfolio of her work. It was also a way to discover an exciting new passion and a potential career.

Ellyn would be the first to tell you that she is no expert, but has a strong willingness to try so that she can gain knowledge on any subject matter. That includes taking a climbing class through the Human Performance department on campus, which is where Ellyn really began to discover her true calling, outdoor journalism.

Ellyn started Introduction to Rock Climbing with low standards of herself. She said she was never a strong athlete but enjoyed trying new things and there was no harm in that. “First day folks always have the jitters, ‘what if I am not good?’, ‘what if I fall?’, said Ellyn’s instructor, Sam Steiger. “Ellyn broke through the jitters and has connected with many people at the rock wall. She has formed a small community herself… a group that likes to laugh, likes to play, likes to challenge each other and strives to live through adventure.” Ellyn started blogging about her experiences and discoveries as she immersed herself in rock climbing. “Ellyn would focus on a climb, drop all of the stress of school and life, and just pursue the moment,” Steiger said of his observations of Ellyn in class.

“Sam challenged me because he saw that I could do it. He was very supportive,” Ellyn said. As Ellyn’s confidence grew she found herself pursuing other outdoor adventures. She guided friends on a four-hour canoe trip on the Blue Earth River. Steiger said that she did her homework by accessing maps of the river and talking to locals about tips she could use on the river. “Ellyn finds challenge in her outdoor pursuits, the challenge reveals success and solitude, and that cycles her into pursuit of more challenge,” he said.

Through conversations with Steiger, Ellyn was able to talk about her passion areas and determine that minoring in Recreation, Parks and Leisure Services would assist her in her dream of becoming an outdoor adventure guide journalist. She is currently pursuing internship opportunities on the East Coast, particularly in New Hampshire, for summer. Her hope is to “inspire more people to put down their phones and go outside.”

Big ideas and real-world thinking on campus and in the community.