They say that all good things must come to an end. Why? The only thing in this world that is consistent is change. As much as we may not like to see something we love come to a close, it is a necessity. It is with a heavy heart that I learned today that the wonderful workplace I have called my own for the last year and a half is closing its doors.
My boss called me this afternoon and told me that, effective yesterday, Compass is shut down. He explained his reasoning-all legit and understandable-and tried to talk with me about it a little bit. I wasn’t able to say much; I was choking back tears and trying not to cry while on the phone with him. I had so many thoughts flying through my mind and a feeling of failure weighing on my shoulders.
Compass began in 2006 as a one person start-up out in our small town. My younger brother was actually in the first group of kids to go through our summer camp programs. His teacher that year, my boss, had been an elementary teacher for several years and discovered that he was unable to work with the kids in the way that he wanted to. The restraints of the public school system prevented him from challenging the kids the way he felt they should be. He found the greatest success in getting his students out from behind their desks, working hands on, being active, and in doing activities that weren’t aligned with the traditional topics covered in the classroom.
The year he had my brother in his class, he gathered a small group of kids to come out on an adventure as his guinea pigs. After some incredible adventures, Compass was born.
Compass has existed on the belief that we learn through failure, that we grow exponentially when we are pushed into our challenge zones, and that we are so much more capable than we think we are. We worked with both kids and adults in facing and overcoming fears, and providing the opportunity to explore, discover, and learn. We know that humans remember things much better when they learn and make their own connections, and we have been set apart because we capitalize on this knowledge. Through outdoor adventures such as mountain biking, geocaching, hiking, swimming, school field trips, and corporate events, we have given every participant the space and place to become a stronger and more experienced individual.
A large handful of our kids have been in our programs for several years, and the changes that we have seen in them over their time with us is absolutely astounding and motivating. The most rewarding thing we get to see is when a kiddo becomes confident. Many times we are the first exposure our adventurers have to geocaching, mountain biking, etc. Not only do these kids learn new skills, but we see them apply their skills to the school work and other extracurricular activities. We challenge them to hone their leadership skills, work as teams, and to begin thinking outside of themselves.
For me, I was brought into Compass a year and a half ago. My boss was a guest on the radio show I used to do with my mentor, and recruited me from there. When I started, I knew nothing about biking or caching… I was hired to run the back office work, but my boss wanted to get me out working in the field. Though it was WAY outside my comfort zone, I did end up learning a lot from it. I pushed myself physically, mentally, and emotionally. I have gotten to experience first hand what our programs offered our kids.
And up until today I didn’t realize just how deep my passion for our work was. As I sat on my bed listening to my boss, I wondered: if I had worked harder, would we be closing down? I know that, given all of my responsibilities, I have done everything I possibly could, but there is still a part of me that makes me feel as though I have let down a lot of kids. As much as I am heartbroken by the end of such a wonderful thing, I know that everything happens for a reason. I am so unbelievably grateful that I’ve had the chance to work with a business that has so much meaning.
We have made such a difference for so many kids, and I know that I will never forget the lessons I have learned from my time at Compass. I have just one regret: that we weren’t able to do more for those we served. But, as Martin Luther King Jr. said, “Our lives begin to end the day we become silent about the things that matter.” This is just the beginning for the individuals of the Compass Crew. We may go our separate ways, but we will all incorporate what Compass has taught us all in turn. Brace yourselves, here we come!