Director & regional director
Dave, or “Dmac,” is our 13th-year director and regional director. Originally from western North Carolina, he attended the University of Tennessee and earned a bachelor’s degree in human ecology and master’s degree in recreation and leisure studies. Dmac is a board member for the America Outdoors Association, graduate of the National Outdoor Leadership School, and wilderness first responder. He has explored the outdoors of Thailand, Vietnam, Nepal, France, Germany, Australia, and many more. Dmac can often be found mountain biking in western North Carolina’s forests.
What led you to work in the outdoors? Thinking back, it all started with a TV show called “McKenna.” It aired after the Superbowl in 1993. The show was about a family in Oregon that ran a guiding company. It was a horrible show; only five episodes aired in the U.S. (out of the 13 that were filmed). Think “Baywatch” (the original TV show) crossed with Aspen Extreme. It was the first time I’d heard about being able to make a living in the outdoors. This put me on a path to working, in whatever manner I could, in the outdoors.
What keeps you at AT? The people, both the students and the staff, are the reason I have stayed for 12 years. We get some of the most incredible students—they are engaged, they want to learn, and they want more from their middle and high school years. Some of the best conversations I have ever had were with students at Adventure Treks. Most of my friends, and all my best friends, have come from Adventure Treks. Everyone wants to do and be more, and they will challenge and support each other in every way possible. My vacations typically revolve around seeing AT staff all over the country.
Why do the outdoors and teaching young people matter to you? As cliche as it sounds, youth are our future. Seeing what is going on with the environment, and how special it is—it’s of great importance to take the leaders of tomorrow into the places that matter. If someone does not have a connection with nature, why would they care to protect it? This is one of the key reasons that taking youth into the outdoors is so important. One the other side of that coin, working with teenagers is just fun. So many of us have forgotten what it is like to play made-up games, or laugh at nothing for hours, or just be in awe of a new experience. Working with youth keeps me young at heart. It is not something I ever want to give up.