Cart 0
 
 
 

Who We Are

 
 

We believe in…

Bringing the queer community together to experience the beauty and fun of the wilderness.  Our trips are run by queer people for queer people and are open to people of all levels of experience.  Check out this clip to get a sense of who we are and what we do.  We hope you'll Venture Out with us soon! 

The Venture Out Project is committed to facilitating backpacking and wilderness trips for the queer and trans community in a safe and inclusive environment. We also provide comprehensive inclusion workshops for educators, adventure professionals, summer/day camps and more.

Learn more about The Venture Out Project in the short video below

 
 
 

Our Vision

The Venture Out Project envisions a world where queer, trans, and LGBTQ+ youth and adults create community, develop leadership skills, and gain confidence through the shared experience of outdoor adventure and physical activity.

 

 

Our Mission

  • To provide education and support that helps schools and organizations affirm their LGBTQ+ community members.
  • To provide a safe and fun space for queer, trans, and LGBTQ+ people to experience the outdoors.
 

 

Our Values

Environmental Stewardship

The natural world is our classroom and our office.  As such we believe we are obligated to care for our environment. Our Project is committed to leaving the (natural) world a bit better than we found it.

Challenge as Choice

Adventure learning can be scary and we recognize that we all start from different places.  Every Project we undertake is based upon the notion that all participants make a conscious  decision to participate and no one will be required to undertake any element that they do not actively choose.

Social Justice

The Venture Out Project believes that we have a responsibility to make our world a more just place.  All of our Projects incorporate social justice into the curriculum. “Social justice includes a vision of society that is equitable and all members are physically and psychologically safe and secure." Adams, Bell and Griffin (2007)

Community

We believe that our community is a source of pride and strength.  As such it is our duty to cultivate and nourish it.

Diversity & Inclusion

We value the diversity that exists within our own trans* and queer community and believe we can serve as role models to society at large.  We embrace and cultivate diversity and are committed to creating programming that is accessible to our diverse communities.

 

 

Populations We Serve

Queer: We use this as an inclusive term for anyone who self-identifies as queer

Trans* and Gender Non-Conforming: Wilderness trips have historically used gender as a term of classification.  At TVOP we recognize that for some of us that’s confusing, prohibitive and offensive.  We strive to be an inclusive organization and offer trips specifically geared to be inclusive of our trans*, queer, non-binary and differently gendered community. 

Lesbian, Gay, and Bisexual people

Intersex people

Allies and Family Members of the LGBTQ+ community: While we are primarily focused on creating a safe space for the LGBTQ+ community to experience nature, we are always appreciative and welcoming to our allies!

 
 
Purple.png
 

Meet our Staff

 
Staff Bios-01.png

PERRY COHEN

Executive Director & Instructor

Perry Cohen realized a lifelong dream of combining his love of the outdoors, his commitment to social justice, his own trans & queer identity, and his professional life when he founded The Venture Out Project. 

Perry is an alumnus of Outward Bound where he also worked.  Perry has extensive wilderness experience, having led multi-day hiking and mountain biking trips in the southeastern US.  He is an avid backcountry skier, biker and runner and just a few summers ago rafted the Colorado River in the Grand Canyon.  Perry is a certified WFR and lifeguard.  He was the Trip Director at Camp Aranu'tiq and has worked for many years as a coach, teacher, trainer and camp counselor with students ranging from age 7 to 65. Perry is proud to work with High 5 Adventure as consultant around strategic planning and leadership.

Perry has two children, a partner, and a chocolate lab and calls the hills and trails of Western Massachusetts home.

Hear more about Perry's story on the Dirtbag Diaries Podcast. 

Travis

TRAVIS CLOUGH

Director of Operations & Instructor

Travis (he/him/his or they/them/their) is originally from Down East Maine and currently resides in Portland, Oregon where he explores the high peaks of the Pacific Northwest.  He loves mountains, snow, pine trees, and views that go on forever.  His favorite outdoor activities are (but not limited to) backpacking, scramble hikes, splitboarding, swimming in mountain lakes, summiting high peaks, mountain biking, etc.  His other interests are quilting, playing guitar, banjo and fiddle, long road trips, contra dancing, pot-lucks, smashing the patriarchy, and connecting to queer community.  He is certified in Wilderness First Responder & AIARE (American Institute for Avalanche Research and Education) - Level 1. 

compass
Devoney.png

DEVONEY ERICKSON

Devoney Erickson (she/her/hers) is the newest member of The Venture Out Project team.  She resides in beautiful New Hampshire where she loves being active in the outdoors. Some of her favorite things to do are running (especially on the trails), skiing & snowboarding, mountain biking, and cooling off in New England lakes and oceans.  

Prior to joining The Venture Out Project, Devoney was the Head of Talent for a large grocery distribution company.  In her role, she served as both a coach and mentor and was responsible for training and development across the company. Prior to that, Devoney enjoyed the slopes of Colorado while working for Vail Resorts as a part of the Vail Ski and Snowboard School’s management team.She graduated from Hartwick College where she was a member of the women’s soccer and lacrosse teams.  

She is a current board member of the Keene Family YMCA. She is certified Professional Ski and Snowboard Instructors of America- Level 1.  

Devoney and her husband have three children who also share a love for the outdoors.

 
Meg

MEG BOLGER

Director of Education

Meg Bolger (she/her/hers or they/them/their) is a social justice educator and facilitator who started their facilitator journey leading wilderness orientation trips at Hamilton College during their undergraduate years. Since then Meg has spent 8 years facilitating gender and sexuality awareness and inclusion workshops with anyone looking to make their organization and community more trans and LGBTQ+ inclusive. Meg is the co-creator of The Safe Zone Project and founder of The Social Justice Toolbox, two free online resources for social justice educational activities and curriculum and the co-author of Unlocking the Magic of Facilitation.

As the Director of Education for The Venture Out Project, Meg takes lead on all-things-training-related, communicating with folks about the different opportunities TVOP provides to learn more about creating trans-inclusive communities and co-facilitating the workshops. While Meg loves hiking, playing team sports, Vermont, and snowboarding, Meg is rarely happier than when working with a new group exploring and learning together. 

Staff Bios-04.png

TAM
WILLEY

Community Liason & Instructor

Tam is Certified Forest Therapy Guide through the Association of Nature and Forest Therapy Guides and Programs.  Tam has first hand experience of the healing benefits of spending time in nature. Through an evolving love for outdoor adventure such as hiking, backpacking, camping, snowboarding, cross country skiing, and surfing Tam has spent extensive time outside, particularly in the White Mountains of NH. Working locally as a self employed Handy Person as well as a teacher and custodian at The Eliot School, Tam is very connected to the neighborhood of Jamaica Plain where Tam has lived since 1998. 

Volunteering as an Adult Support Volunteer at BAGLY (Boston's Alliance of LGBTQ Youth) since 2010 and having worked 8 seasons with The Theater Offensive's True Colors: Out Youth Theater, Tam has extensive experience working with LGBTQ youth in Boston.  In 2016 Tam thru-hiked Vermont's Long Trail and raised money and awareness for TVOP.  Tam holds CRP, First Aid and WFA Certifications and is currently focused on creating more inclusive and accessible Guided Forest Bathing Walks for all by offering structured support in finding one's own way towards experiencing belonging to the natural world.  For more information about Tam and Forest Bathing, check out the website: ToadstoolWalks.com

august+backpacking.jpg
2018-3-Feature-Venture-Out-Camping-Opener-Fanny-Pack-01-WB.jpg
 
 

Our Instructors

Meet the talented Venture Out instructors who make these amazing trips what they are.  We wouldn't what what we are without their tireless dedication to wildnerness stewardship, adventurous spirit and endless knowledge of the outdoors.

 
Instructors-07.png

MERCY SHAMMAH

Mercy (she/her/hers)  loves being outdoors in the Pacific NW. She hopes to cultivate an outdoor community putting POC and Queers front and center. She wants to be a part of the facilitating a comfortable safe spaces for POC and Queers to thrive in the outdoors in the Portland, Oregon area and beyond. As an Outdoorist she knows there is hundreds of ways one can enjoy being in nature. She loves a good outdoor immersion weekend and believes in the healing abilities that nature provides. Her mission is to promote those who have been pushed aside by today’s dominate society—supporting them in their growth, healing and love of the outdoors. WILD DIVERSITY


Danielle-Nolan.png

DANIELLE WOLTER NOLAN

Danielle (she/her/hers) grew up in the country, and being outdoors was always second nature to her. Living in this fast-paced digital age we live in today, she realized that there was a need for more people to unplug from technology and reconnect with themselves in nature. This was one of the many reasons why Kate (her wife) and Danielle founded DNK Presents. Together they have organized and guided hundreds of people on adventures in and outside of Indiana. She is blessed to share her passion for the great outdoors while helping individuals and groups build confidence and empowerment through adventure experiences. She is certified level 1 PMBIA mountain bike instructor, Leave No Trace trainer, yoga instructor, Reiki master and thai massage therapist. 


Instructors-13.png

LOREN EVENS

Loren (he/him/his) is a self identified ragamuffin queer who is unequivocally obsessed with being in the mountains. Born in the Northwest, he grew up backpacking with his family. He currently lives in Denver Colorado where he spends most of his time burning up the highway to find the next mountain paradise.  He will eat key lime pie till he’s blue in the face, and love making cards.  Some of his hobbies are, split boarding, hiking, trail running, mountain biking, river floating, backpacking, and losing his chapstick.  He loves to meet new people, and hear about how the outdoors enriches their lives. Loren is a Nationally Registered licensed Paramedic, and Registered Nurse who specializes in Emergency Medicine.

Instructors-09.png

OLIVER REITZ

Oliver (he/him/his)is originally from Indiana, where he spent his youth climbing trees and swimming with catfish. As an adult, he spent years leading LGBT organizations and promoting LGBT education and advocacy all over Southern Indiana. At the age of 26, Oliver moved to Massachusetts where he got involved with The Venture Out Project from the start and rediscovered his love of the outdoors. He has since become passionate about hiking, backpacking, and map-reading. Oliver lives with his partner and their two dogs and is currently enrolled in school, where he is finishing his degree in Health Education and Promotion. He spends his free time hiking his favorite trails in Western Massachusetts and discovering new ones.


Instructors-14.png

KATE NOLAN

My name is Kate Nolan (she/her/hers) and I am a cofounder of DNK Presents, Trek Bicycle Women’s Advocate and Leave No Trace trainer. Getting outside has always been a passion of mine and I love sharing that with others. I believe we need a connection to nature in order to live a happy, healthy and balanced lives. I grew up camping, backpacking, skiing, trail running and racing BMX and mountain bikes. I believe my bond with nature has helped me to excel in my professional career, to overcome obstacles personally and professionally and the spiritual gain has been profound.


Instructors-12.png

GRAHAM OXMAN

Graham (he/him/his) lives in Brighton, MA, but dreams of gallivanting around the world with all his belongings in a backpack. He loves biking, hiking, climbing and kayaking. He is also a proud nerd; lover of rocks and science, and an aspiring potter. Graham is a teacher by day, and an multi-tasking super fiend by night. Graham also collects useless (but fun!) trivia, so if you know a cool fact, he'd love to hear it!

 
TVOP Logo.png
Instructors-08.png

LEX JACKSON

Born and raised in Vermont, Lex (he/him/his) is a nomad of sorts who spends most of his time in New England. Lex identifies as a dog dad, a goatherd, and an avid writer of postcards. He spent three winters as an EMT on the Mount Mansfield Ski Patrol at Stowe Mountain Resort in Vermont. After a 2014 thru-hike of the Appalachian Trail, Lex fell in love with the White Mountains of New Hampshire, and moved there to work for the Appalachian Mountain Club as a member of their high-mountain hut croo, a member of their professional trail crew, and as an outdoor guide. When not recreating in the wilderness, Lex can be found snacking and butt-dialing his senators. He recently moved to Portland, ME in search of community and affirming spaces, and to pursue a passion for education as a substitute teacher for the Portland Public Schools. Lex holds a certification in Wilderness First Aid.


Instructors-10.png

ELLIOT DRAKE-MAURER

Elliot (he/him/his)grew up in the foothills of the central Sierra Nevada Mountains in California, and has always been fascinated by the beauty and intricacies of the natural world. Elliot’s outdoor education journey began at Headwaters Outdoor School in Mt. Shasta, CA where he now teaches traditional earth living and survival skills.  Elliot received a bachelor’s degree in Outdoor Education from Northland College, where he furthered his interest in the intersecting fields of diversity, inclusion, and outdoor recreation. He has led trips for the college’s Outdoor Orientation Program, and worked as a kayak guide on Lake Superior. In life, as in any ecosystem, Elliot believes that a diversity of beings results in a more resilient and beautiful community. He is excited to connect people with the natural world and develop a sense of belonging. Elliot resides in southern Oregon, and is a certified Wilderness First Responder. His outdoor interests include hiking, fly fishing, cross-country skiing, and natural history. He likes to cook, write, and play traditional Irish pennywhistle.