This Startup Runs National Park Sabbaticals for Burned-Out Employees

We could all use a recharge

This Startup Runs National Park Sabbaticals for Burned-Out Employees
By Tanner Garrity / September 4, 2019 1:29 pm

Earlier this year, the U.S. Travel Association released its annual State of American Vacation report on the habits of American travelers. It included some fascinating, if depressing, takeaways, including this: over half of American employees have unused vacation days at the end of the year.

Many reported a fear of appearing replaceable, others cited heavy workloads. This “beleaguered American employee” narrative isn’t anything new. But it didn’t sit well with Ilyssa Kyu, the 30-year-old founder of Amble, a startup that specializes in guided sabbaticals to our National Parks. According to The New York Times, Kyu quit her design agency job three years ago to explore public lands for five months, and she found an elusive reset button in the process.

Amble sprung from that journey and is designed with creative professionals in mind. Everyone from web developers to copywriters to videographers is eligible to apply for the company’s month-long sabbaticals. This past spring, Amble went with a group to the Sierra Foothills (outside of Yosemite, Kings Canyon and Sequoia National Parks) and this fall is setting up shop in Glacier National Park.

These sabbaticals, we should emphasize, aren’t simply a month of Instagramming one’s way from one trail to another. Each guest is expected to devote at least 18 hours a week to “projects.” These initiatives might involve helping refresh a park’s website, aiding in wildlife protection, or lending a hand to local, underfunded programs. This way, participants can keep their brains sharp and make a tangible difference during their stay.

All while living in the most drop-dead gorgeous corners of the country for a month. Amble books handsome lodges in the area for your stay, and will provide some meals. For $1,400 over the course of a month, it’s pretty damn approachable. The big wild card, we’d expect, is the lenience of your current employer. Amble might be able to lobby on your behalf — they encourage employers to sponsor the experience — and if you’re in a creative profession, there’s already a decent chance that your bosses are more understanding than most.

If you can make it happen, go for it. I can’t write in the afternoon without taking a walk to Central Park.  A National Park sojourn should do the job and then some.

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