Jaime and crew on Little Colorado on the Grand Canyon.

BOEC is made up of many amazing, unique and kind hearted people and Jaime Overmyer epitomizes those qualities every day.  We are collectively very grateful that Jaime came to the BOEC as an intern way back on May 15th, 2003 and stayed.  She has made a huge difference in the lives of our participants, staff and community overall and has led BOEC’s Wilderness Program to its position as among the best in the world.  

This is Jaime’s BOEC story

Jaime’s time at BOEC started on May 15th, 2003 at 12:00pm when she showed up with 11 other wide-eyed folks who were embarking on an adventure of a lifetime. 

With a recreation degree in hand from Michigan State University, Jaime moved to Breckenridge to live the dream as a ski bum working ski town jobs during the winters and traveling the world in the summers. One day in 2003, her life took a sharp turn when she found out about BOEC. It was a chance “ski-in for an interview” and a subsequent internship offer that started her path to where she is today.

My internship was the single most educationally beneficial thing I have ever participated in,” she says. “At that time, I would’ve traded in my whole four year degree for that internship. I learned more about the world and myself than I ever could’ve imagined. The students that I met and the smiles they greeted me with every day became addictive immediately.”

Though she remains a die-hard Spartan fan and does actually value her degree, the hands-on experience of serving those with disabilities and unique needs became a sort of secondary education for the Michigan native. The following summer she hopped on board as a course director and the rest is history.

I couldn’t believe that I was getting paid to play with the coolest people on the planet!” she exclaims when reminiscing about her newfound career.  She was course directing in the summer and ski patrolling in the winter and while she loved it, the nature of seasonal work was wearing on her.

Jaime cruising through some fresh powder on an epic snow day.

When a year-round position in BOEC operations opened, she jumped at the chance to become even more ingrained in the organization. “I made it my mission to make courses even more effective and powerful by preparing the field staff through training and making sure they had all the right equipment at the right time. I loved every minute of it!” After dedicating a decade worth of passion and integrity to the organization, it was clear that Jaime could make even more of an impact when the Wilderness Program Director position became available. 

I’ve been in this (director’s) position for 8 years now and I am happy to report that it is everything I had hoped it would be and more,” she says. “BOEC has been my life’s work and I cannot imagine being anywhere else.”

And she hasn’t been anywhere else for 20 years! In fact, she often jokes about how BOEC is her first marriage.

“The BOEC is as much a part of me as I am of it. My entire life became shaped and enhanced by the staff and students at the BOEC. I cannot imagine life any other way. I never expected to be here this long but I am so glad that I have been able to see us grow and change over the years.”

Jaime, at a 2012 Brain Injury Alliance camp, belayed out of the rafters for a very dramatic party entrance!

“My job has changed, especially in the last few years, with the addition of so many valuable team members.  There are seven people doing the work that used to be done by three, which is crazy when you think about how much growth BOEC has seen, even in the last 10 years.  This has provided ample time for those in these positions to concentrate on their respective tasks, improving operations, training, facility management, volunteer engagement, program coordination, and even the construction of a database.

The Wilderness Program has grown exponentially since she started at BOEC and it finally has a team that can support it sustainably. This is impactful in the numbers of participants BOEC is able to serve, the quality of equipment and programming offered and the number of scholarships provided to those in need of financial assistance. In fact, she remembers the BOEC only being able to offer three courses a month when she started versus the six or seven happening now on any given day during the summer months.

The original “Le Bus” circa 2008, Jaime sports the gray hat in the middle.

“I think the favorite part of my job, besides rafting, is each summer when staff arrive for training and then when the new interns arrive how exciting and energetic everyone is,” she says. “I just love sharing with the new kids why the BOEC is such a special place and seeing them get super pumped to be a part of it. It might take a bit more out of me than it used to in my 20’s but the ropes course, the climbing wall, the river trips, etc. are still as fun as they were!

I never imagined that I would still be here 20 years later.  I think it is very unheard of for those of my generation to stay with a job for that long.  But each year it is just so refreshing to meet new interns, new students, to see old interns advance their careers in course directing and river guiding, and to see those senior staffers take on new and bigger responsibilities and fill some of the year round positions, etc.”  

Jaime rafting the Grand Canyon with Anita and Board Member Leslee Balten.

Jaime says that the title of the book about her time at the BOEC would be Four Million Things You Can Do with a Pool Noodle and some Duct Tape. She even offers examples including, you can make a handle of a spoon or fork bigger for people with low dexterity or grip, you can pad a lawn chair on a raft for comfort, you can fashion a neck support for someone on the zipline who is out of their specially designed wheelchair seat, etc. etc. etc.! While she has worked with so many individuals that she could literally write a book about her experiences, she shares this touching story. 

I once worked with a student who became my favorite and the reason I have stuck with BOEC for so long. I was very nervous as an intern back in 2003 because I hadn’t had much experience with individuals who live with disabilities. There was a young man who came to BOEC after surviving a traumatic brain injury. He was only two years older than me. After saving all of his money forever, he bought his dream motorcycle, and then was tragically hit by a car on the first ride. He lost his right leg below the knee and suffered an injury to his brain. The frontal lobe in his brain was affected with this injury, so his personality was heavily affected. He spoke with a monotone voice and didn’t typically have the right facial expression for the feeling he was having.  

One day we were going adaptive cycling where he would be using a three-wheel recumbent cycle. We had an awesome day of biking and hanging out. In the van on the way home, we were all very excited about the day and having a great time playing music and singing.  He was usually quiet due to his voice and his personality affects. I turned to see him singing along to the most hilarious song (Cold Beverage- by G. Love & Special Sauce) with his stone stoic face and beautiful deep voice, albeit monotone, but having the best time with everyone in the van. I then realized he was just like anyone else, trying to have fun and live life to the fullest.  He didn’t let his brain injury stop him in any way. He was my inspiration for why I wanted to stay at the BOEC and completely changed the way I viewed the world.

 While learning to use his prosthetic leg, he was quite wobbly. When he first came to BOEC he was wheelchair bound because his balance was so bad. He worked hard all the time to get his balance back and to be able to walk independently. One day we were out rock climbing, and he was doing a great job climbing up the wall and had a ton of friends and fans cheering him on. He seemed to be struggling just after he made it past the halfway point. I knew he desperately wanted to get to the top, so we cheered and yelled and helped however we could.  

He struggled more than anyone I have ever seen but he made it all the way to the top!  When he was coming down, we realized why he was struggling. He had been working so hard and sweating profusely because his prosthetic leg had fallen off! His sweatpants were the only thing holding it from falling to the ground. Somehow, he had muscled his way up to the top with his two arms and only one working leg! We all had a great laugh when he got back to the ground and were amazed at his athleticism. He eventually ditched the wheelchair after a few years and continued to be one of the most hilarious and fun students I have ever worked with.”  

Jaime teaches the readiness to adapt, overcome, and handle any situation with poise and expert risk management. She is all about creating a successful environment so that her staff and participants can be at their very best to reap the rewards of another spectacular BOEC course. 

She summarizes her time at BOEC this way,

“I have had a really great time here, have done some amazing trips and lived through many disasters and I think that has helped me become the leader I am today.  The ‘disasters’ (in my mind only, of course) prepare you for the future programs, which is probably why the staff curriculum and operations guide has more than doubled in size during my tenure as well.  It still means what it meant the first day, which is – let’s figure out how to adapt to this world so EVERYONE can have fun!”

Jaime enjoying mountain biking in Crested Butte.

We offer resounding thanks to Jaime for her radiating enthusiasm, expertise, and a genuine passion that infuses both BOEC and the Wilderness program creating a significant impact on staff and participants alike. Cheers to another 20 years!