Always Choose Adventures (ACA) is a 501(c)3 nonprofit organization located in Littleton, Colorado. Our sole purpose is to provide support and information for anyone interested in challenging themselves to get outdoors and explore the vast nature around them. Our founder, Chantelle Shoaee, started ACA after spending the first 30 years of her life being told her health prevented her from spending time outside, let alone taking adventures involving hiking and mountains. After discovering the benefits received by challenging the previous limitations placed upon her and exploring outdoor activity, she founded ACA to help others who also find themselves housebound either by physical, mental, or emotional disability or simply because their life requires them to spend their entire days connected to technology and not connected to other people and nature.

ACA has numerous community centric partnerships that enable us to offer gear rentals at affordable rates. We host numerous adaptive events that reach people of all ages and skill levels. Our community centric model helps people from all walks of life learn and enjoy adventuring, enabling those with limitations access to equipment that would make it possible for them to also enjoy the same outdoor activities that other adventurers enjoy. At this time, we are seeking operational support to help facilitate expansion of the various events that we host.

Mission

Our mission is to help people of all ages, backgrounds, skill levels, and physical abilities access the outdoors, get off the couch and disconnect from technology, while connecting with others.

Organization History

Always Choose Adventures (ACA) is a 501(c)3 nonprofit organization founded in 2016 and located in Littleton, Colorado. Chantelle Shoaee, our founder, started ACA after discovering that despite medical advice to stay indoors for the first 30 years of her life due to a COPD diagnosis, she flourished and exceeded her own expectations by challenging herself to go outdoors and take on mountain hiking and other physically challenging activities that able bodied persons frequently dismiss as possible for themselves. 

By offering the essential tools, equipment, training, assistance, and confidence support, ACA reminds people, regardless of physical, emotional, or mental disability, that they can do anything they strive to do. By providing this solid foundation, people from all limitations and abilities are able to participate in activity, adventure, and appreciate the outdoors in ways they never before believed possible. The confidence achieved for them impacts their own self-perception and ripples out to those who are involved in their lives. The impact is far larger than the focused effort. 

Since 2016, we have helped community members who suffer with cerebral palsy, cystic fibrosis, autism, traumatic brain injuries, asthma, COPD, and chronic pain get off the couch and participate in outdoor activities for free or through affordable rates. We host many monthly events varying from hiking, backpacking, climbing, camping, canyoneering, skiing, snowboarding, ice climbing, snow cave camping, and much more. We also host monthly socials, with the goal of helping people meet like-minded adventurers. Although fairly young, ACA has managed to obtain 20,000 group members and followers across numerous social media platforms and nationwide recognition. 

Problem 
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention cite that, “engaging in physical activity outdoors can help improve your physical health, as well as your mental health and well-being.” Those with disabilities frequently find their neighborhoods without sufficient support for their disabilities in order to participate in basic exercise in their own neighborhood, let alone to go on an adventure such as hiking in the mountains. As a result, many with disabilities are more prone to obesity, stroke, heart disease, cancer, or diabetes than those who do not have disabilities. Without ACA, many would not have facilitated access to most outdoor activities, let alone adventures. Access to adaptive bicycles, gear for camping or hiking, snowshoeing, paddleboarding, kayaking, and ice and rock climbing would be out of reach or impossible for many. This is in addition to having no community support to assist them in their effort to experience these types of activities and adventures correctly and safely. Our programs are not exclusive to those with disabilities, but inclusive of all. Families that have a mixture of ability complexities don’t frequently find opportunities for the entire family to participate as equals, but they can when they work together with ACA and our various events offered nationwide. There is no other nonprofit organization in Colorado that bridges the ability gap with the variety of outdoor activities that can be experienced.

Programs

ACA’s programs vary quite extensively. Each is designed to help connect people to different types of outdoor adventure experiences and education on safe adventuring. 

ReWild Your Child

  • Events designed for families and children that offer outdoor activities friendly for beginner adventurers and utilizes the ACA Gear Library of child-oriented outdoor equipment.
    • Targeted towards families with younger children, this program creates outdoor opportunities with less research and pre-planning investment for parents, so that they can show up to an already coordinated event to expose their children to outdoor skills and education.

Anguish to Adventures

  • This program highlights the importance of conversation and mental health awareness. The program’s connection-to-community focus includes recreational activities that provide a therapeutic impact for participant mental health.
    • With support from licensed mental health professionals, Anguish to Adventures provides a virtual meeting option for people to talk about life challenges that have helped them grow and how they have evolved into adventurers who take advantage of the outdoors and push their boundaries.

Run ACA

  • Participants are introduced to the wonderful world of running through a supportive community that fosters health, exercise, and outdoor activity.
    • As a way to introduce an activity that most people are familiar with, this program creates an opportunity for participants to connect with others in a simplistic way – putting feet to the pavement.  Whether it be for a mile or a marathon, the goal of the program is for participants to make connections doing something outdoors that everyone knows how to do…which is run!

Trail TimeOuts

  • An opportunity for ACA members to give back to their communities through a variety of partnerships they enjoy through volunteer efforts that include:
    • Adopt a Highway,
    • Spruce Up Colorado,
    • Working at food pantries,
    • Working with youth homes in the Denver Metro area,
    • Visiting children at the Denver Children’s Home,
    • Promoting good land stewardship through trail cleanups, and many more.

ACA Mountaineering

  • This program holds events that enable people from various abilities to learn how to climb and conquer more technical summiting challenges.
    • Teaches basic practical skills for hiking and outdoor safety.  Topics and activities include education around how people should plan for hike activities (route mapping, GPS coordinates, etc.), to the practical necessities that should be included in their hiking backpack for every trip, to how to monitor route conditions and weather before and during the outdoor activity.

Couch to Trail

  • This program utilizes  trained wilderness partners working in tandem with ACA volunteers to create low-pressure events for people from various fitness levels to be encouraged to explore community outdoor activities and help build new routines for them to continue as a group or on their own.
    • Designed for people just starting on their outdoor / adventuring journey, this is a program that offers low intensity activity that is appropriate for any age group or modality so that people can build on their current fitness level and experience the outdoors in a more coordinated, controlled event setting.

Partnerships

ACA is fortunate to have so many community partners and corporate sponsors for many of our events and equipment needs. In all, we currently have 33 organizations who support and/or sponsor our events: Abby Dew for You, All is Accounted for Accounting and Bookkeeping, Amazon.com, American Lung Association, Animal Rescue of the Rockies, Arc’Teryx Denver, Axe Whooping: Axe Throwing Denver, Bluebird Backcountry Skiing, Boulder Parks and Recreation, Children’s Hospital Colorado, Colorado Asthma and Allergy, Colorado Chapter of the National Hemophilia Foundation, Colorado Mountain School Professional Mountain Guides

Colorado Search and Rescue, CO Trex, Crescent Moon Snowshoes and Accessories, Front Range Climbing Company, Lawson Adventure Park and Resort, Littleton Public Schools, Littleton Rotary Club, Liquid Descent Rafting, Mountain Side Gear and Rental, Mountain Trip Guides, National Jewish Hospital, Osprey, Peak Flags, Stansport, Solo Wilderness School, Summit Roofing and Gutters, The Flag Makers, The Shed Equipment Rental, Vasa Fitness, and 100% Chiropractic.