“All our dreams can come true, if we have the courage to pursue them.” – Walt Disney
At the age of 18, outdoor enthusiast Kevin Ucci took the brave step to move from his home in Northern Ontario to the BC Rockies. Once he had a taste of skiing in the Rockies — especially around Golden, B.C. – he was hooked.
It was while spending a winter in Golden that he was introduced to the Adventure Tourism Business Operations (ATBO) program at the College’s Golden campus and was inspired to take his next courageous step.
“I found out about the program from students who were taking it and it piqued my interest,” he said. “Attending school in Golden allowed me an opportunity to study in the mountains, but also provided a pathway to employment in areas that I love.”
One of the passions that Kevin developed as a student was for sea kayaking, a skill which allowed him to pursue an aquatic tour of Gwaii Haanas, a Haida heritage site at the southern end of Haida Gwaii.
“Learning to sea kayak as an ATBO student meant I could visit the area without a lot of cost and also afforded me the opportunity to view the west side of the islands, a place few get to visit.”
The experience turned out to be so impactful, Kevin transformed the meticulous notes he took along the way into a self-published book. Along the Knife’s Edge is now used as a resource in the ATBO program’s Travel Writing elective course.
Currently living in Sydney, Australia, Kevin runs his own kayak business and works in the outdoor education industry. He typically travels back to B.C. during the Canadian summer months to act as a sea kayak guide around Vancouver Island, however, during the COVID-19 pandemic he remained in Australia leading multi-day hiking trips.
“The ATBO program did a great job preparing me for a career in the outdoor industry,” he said. “The education I received allowed me to work in the sea kayak field with very little prior experience in the marine environment. And though I mainly worked in kayaking at first, when the time came to branch out to new sections of the industry, ATBO helped me develop a skillset that allowed me to do so. The business side of the program also gave me the confidence to create my own business.”
Kevin found the courage to pursue his dreams and is now able to make a living by doing what he loves. He strongly encourages other like-minded folks to consider the ATBO program too.
“Do it!” he said. “If I look back at the past 10 years, I will say the most impactful decision I made was to attend the ATBO program. At first, I took it to have fun, but the real fun came after when I was able to gain employment in areas in Canada and around the world I could only dream of prior. It also provided a great network of like-minded individuals. Many of the 20 students I took the program with are still good friends today. I am thankful to Dave Wan (instructor) and the rest of the staff in Golden, and to all my classmates. Legends!”