Vanlife: Working Wilderness Therapy in Utah

***Editors Note: Aubrey Hodges is a noted rock climber and all around great person who has taken some time to grace us with this guest post.  As an added bonus for our readers, we are providing a pre-release link to our inaugural theDIHEDRAL Podcast!  In this first episode, we explore more details about life/climbing/and pushing limits with our friend Aubrey Hodges!  


Cover Photo: Cody Abercrombie @cody.dabercrombie

“I landed a job in March, built a van, packed my shit and moved to Utah. I’ve spent sleepless nights, climbed to new heights, made new friends and learned so much about myself. I peed in a nalgene. The end.”

I wish this is how most #vanlife blog posts went. Instead, social media blows the experience way out of proportion- glorifying and idealizing the situation; counting down the unexpected realities of being in a van. Quantifying and placing people and the way live their lives in a box. The van isn’t my life, it’s not a part of who I am as a person or an individual, it’s a vehicle that helps me experience my world in a way that lives up to my ideals: mobility, flexibility, and being a badass climber.

I work for a wilderness therapy company, I spend a little over half the month sleeping outside on the ground, fully immersed in the wilderness and exposed to the elements, with people who don’t always want to be there, or with me. And as wonderful, fulfilled and driven I feel at work, when I’m off and in the van with my own space, I’m far more comfortable and just feel so much more relaxed and at peace. However, at the same time any situation would feel far more comfortable and easy when compared to my job.

I work with at risk students, and do everything within my power to keep them physically and emotionally safe, and hopefully feel cared for. I’ve ran for miles with kids who were trying to ‘escape’, stayed up all night for weeks on end to keep suicidal students safe, I’ve laughed, cried, and watched as my students grew and changed within their situation. Those experiences mean so much more to me than the fact that my house is outside what people normally define as a living space or home.

I love my van, I love the lifestyle it helps provide, but I struggle defining my life around it and being someone who is proud because I live in a van. The point I’m trying to make is that it doesn’t matter where we live, what matters are the people we choose to surround ourselves with, and the passion with which we throw ourselves into the world around us.

Aubrey Van 1
Aubrey Hodges


13 Replies to “Vanlife: Working Wilderness Therapy in Utah”

  1. Well done Aubrey. We miss you around here but are so happy you are having such great experiences and influencing so many.

    Liked by 2 people

  2. This: “. . . it doesn’t matter where we live, what matters are the people we choose to surround ourselves with, and the passion with which we throw ourselves into the world around us.” That’s why it’s not important for some of us to be tethered to a geographic location. I’m an aspiring RVer, and I find this inspirational. Thanks for sharing her story.

    Liked by 2 people

  3. Wow that must be an unreal job! Love the message, and love hearing about people who sacrifice sleep and comfort in the service of others.

    Liked by 2 people

  4. great post life is not about who has the most stuff it is about the journey and the people you
    meet along the way

    Liked by 2 people

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