FGH: The Story
The Fit. Green. Happy. ®️ movement is a seemingly new idea that has been in progress for over a decade. It started back in August of 2008. The entire East Tennessee region was an EPA nonattainment area, meaning that basic EPA air quality standards were not being met. We also noticed that some people were not physically capable of fully participating in our courses. One group came for a ropes course, but they were unable to venture into the woods, so they did activities in our yard instead.
Soon after, a large group of middle schoolers came to participate in a mobile ropes course; however, air quality was at an unhealthy level and left some of the children gasping for breath.
A week later, another middle school group came for a course. Quickly into the course, two kids came back with breathing troubles.
Again, the air quality had proved too poor for a course, impacting the capabilities of participants. We cancelled courses for the next week.
The end of August brought college freshman to us for orientation. As always, we looked at every health form. It came as a surprise that 15-20 kids were on some type of lifelong medication. Because of this, the following year a new orientation group formed: the Concrete Kids. This group was an option for students who identified themselves as unhealthy or were unsure about being outside.
Because participant health and environmental concerns were affecting the health and capabilities of our participants, we asked ourselves: what do we do? The two biggest pieces of advice we got were to look for an inside place and to increase the amount of activities we did in the yard. Ultimately, we found both options unacceptable. We spent September and October thinking it through to find the best course of action. These “solutions” were so far removed from our mission of providing safe, high quality, outdoor experiences that we would almost rather be out of business than be inside.
If we weren’t going to change and go inside, we needed a new approach. We turned the problem into the solution. The obstacle ended up having the solution embedded in it, a real 180 way of looking at things. Since we found ourselves in the fitness and environmental initiatives business, we decided to start with Crawford House. We came across the United States Green Building Council and LEED Certification. Our staff decided to do it. Five years’ worth of work later, in 2013 we were LEED Gold Certified.
What else could we do? We didn’t have the words fit green happy yet, but we had started doing a lot of the things. We started talking about how important it was for humans to be outside. Bruce Guillaume, founder of Mountain Challenge, came across an article about a happy college, meaning that the students were satisfied, and he thought that it was a cool thing to be a happy college. Suddenly, it all fit together: we had our fit stuff, our green stuff, and now our happy stuff. Our attorney urged us to trademark the title, so we spent a couple of years working on that, obtaining the trademark at the end of 2017.
We spent time looking at the evidence and developing each part of Fit. Green. Happy. ®️. We now have a solid foundation to share with others.
Today the Fit. Green. Happy. ®️ work continues by incorporating programming throughout the MC campus including Camp 4, open trips, cooking demonstrations, and much more.