I’m Ryan Hudson, born and raised in sunny San Diego, CA. My story is far from fairytale. Since childhood, memories as far back as 4 years old serve as nothing more than nightmares. A victim of severe poverty since birth, I grew up living in and out of homeless shelters, sleeping in cars, the streets, at the park, or anywhere my family and I could lay our heads. When my family would find a home it would be in neighborhoods riddled with gang and drug activity. Such was my life until the age of 14 when I found the Toussaint Academy, a shelter for homeless and runaway teenagers. It was here I was introduced to a new world of opportunity. I got into many creative things; music, graphic design, writing, capoeira and more. None of these ever really satisfied my hunger for a positive outlet. Then I met Chris Rutgers. Chris invited a group of us to Big Bear, CA to check out this “sport” snowboarding-what that was I couldn’t have told you at the time. Turns out, that weekend would define my future. Through Chris and his non-profit organization known as Outdoor Outreach, I was able to escape the big city and learn to snowboard. This was my first time seeing mountains and definitely the first time I had seen and touched snow. Shortly after, I was hooked. Hooked on snowboarding and hooked on the idea that I could help the other 14 year old “Ryan’s”. With this new direction, I began working with Outdoor Outreach. I now had the opportunity to show kids with similar backgrounds that there is opportunity to use the outdoors as a way to overcome adversity and move life in a positive direction. Through comprehensive outdoor programming and participation Outdoor Outreach trained me to become a Leadership Instructor, teaching at-risk youth to surf, rock climb, mountain bike, and guiding them on snorkeling trips, hiking adventures, and overnight surf camps. This is where my connection with the outdoors began.
Although Outdoor Outreach has helped me discover so many things- beyond all else I’m thankful to Outdoor Outreach for introducing me to snowboarding. Snowboarding has given me something that I do not believe I could have found anywhere else. It’s my number one. Through snowboarding I find myself learning a new life lesson daily. What I’ve learned is my relationship with the outdoors is constantly evolving. As life happens we tend to forget what is right in our own back yard and I feel like it is my duty to make everyone aware of their opportunities and surroundings. The outdoors has given me happiness, peace, comfort, inspiration and support. Most importantly the outdoors has given me a life. Without it, I would most likely not be here today.
The North Face began their Outdoor Exploration program just a few years ago. As big supporters of Outdoor Outreach, TNF reached out to me and offered an opportunity of a lifetime. I was given the chance to become a Brand Ambassador. A milestone that brings me to tears every time I think of it. As an ambassador I work with the Outdoor Foundation and other organizations all working to answer one question: “How do we get more people outside?” What I’ve realized is that by sharing my passion for the outdoors with others I’m able to understand the purpose of my life. I then use this purpose to reinforce my passions, thus creating a self-sustained, well-oiled machine of positive lasting changes in all the lives of those that surround me. My life would not be the same without that someone who has asked that very question, sat down in a room, and tried to come up with solutions. This cannot be overlooked. The youth are our future. It is our responsibility to bring them up into a world worth loving, sharing and most importantly worth exploring. It is time we stand up and empower not only youth but also each other to ensure these are lasting changes for all. This is what I am fighting for.