News & Stories

New Staff Member: John Bussey, Director of Events & Corporate Relations

john BusseyJust inside The Trailhead’s main entrance, painted on the wall, is a great paragraph called The Trailhead Manifesto. It struck me the first time I walked in. Broadly, it’s about adventure, excellence, stewardship, integrity, and inclusiveness; an interpretation of the Loppet Foundation’s values. It says things like “this is where we plug into nature 365 days a year, no matter the weather” and “out here we move our bodies and clear our minds.” It assigns to the Loppet the responsibility to serve as a hub for a welcoming, vibrant, active outdoor community. It inspires you to get out on the trails.

I love that paragraph. It made me feel that I was in the right place the moment I read it.

While I was born in the Twin Cities I spent my early years elsewhere, in Jerusalem, Israel, and just outside of Chicago. No matter where we were, however, my family returned each year to the Twin Cities to reconnect with friends and family and, crucially, spend our summers at YMCA Camps on the border of the Boundary Waters. Summers spent as a camper soon turned into summers as a guide and instructor, and in what seems like the blink of an eye I spent ten years leading paddling, backpacking, and climbing trips for YMCA Camp Widjiwagan and the National Outdoor Leadership School.

During my off-season from leading trips (that’s how I like to think about it) I studied political science at Gustavus Adolphus College and then natural resource management at the University of Minnesota. At Gustavus I served for three years as the captain of the Gustavus Ultimate team. I think it’s a little funny that the time I spent neglecting my studies to plan our “Thrill on the Hill” ultimate tournament and music festival were in hindsight some of my most productively spent hours.

For the past five years I have been with YMCA Camp St. Croix, running the summer overnight camp, working on a variety of financial development projects, and overseeing Prairie Burn Music Festival (read: making sure that super talented volunteers had what they needed to do their thing). I’ve also been climbing, running, skiing, biking, and lifting as much as ever, trying my darndest to act like my body isn’t getting older.

Thinking one more time about the paragraph on the wall just inside of The Trailhead, the first time I read that piece was when, a week before I got started, I attended the Loppet’s 2018 Annual Member Meeting. While reading that piece was meaningful, far more so were the interactions I had with the fifty or so volunteers, community members, and staff that I spoke with that night. To a person, each and every one was passionate about the Loppet’s mission, inspiring in their excitement for the trails, and welcomed me warmly.

Thank you all for being passionate, inspiring and welcoming.

I am absolutely thrilled to be joining this community.