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Meet Zoe Gillis of Z Adventures in Silver Lake

Today we’d like to introduce you to Zoe Gillis.

Thanks for sharing your story with us Zoe. So, let’s start at the beginning and we can move on from there.
I moved around a lot growing up and I have always loved exploring places and meeting new people. As I grew up, my interest in adventures and our interconnectedness continued to grow. So, I went to school and got my BA in Outdoor Education and my MA in Psychology.

In 2015, I started Z Adventures because I have seen first hand the healing benefits that can come from combing time spent in nature with intentional reflection. I wanted to create wilderness experiences that were not just about bagging peaks or hanging out around a campsite (although don’t get me wrong these things totally rock my world too).

Our retreats are about having transformative experiences where people are empowered to challenge their perceived limits and go on a journey of self-discovery.

Great, so let’s dig a little deeper into the story – has it been an easy path overall and if not, what were the challenges you’ve had to overcome?
I think the biggest obstacle for me along the way has been taking on a leadership role. I have the skills and training, but I have always been more of a collaborator than a leader in my style. I grew up putting leadership in the category of authority and not in a good way, so I am being forced to shift my perception of what it means to take on a position of authority and seeing that it can be done in a really powerful and positive way. It’s still a struggle at times though, and an area in which I continue to learn and grow.

Please tell us about Z Adventures.
What sets our trips apart is an emphasis on both self-discovery and the outdoors. Our retreats bring in meditation, journaling, and group discussion all as a way to unlock creativity, self-understanding, and a greater sense of connection. The element of nature is an opportunity to disconnect, to leave behind daily pressures and habits and experience something new. It is unusual to find both of these components in a retreat and for it to be led by someone who is trained as both a wilderness guide and therapist.

I love the idea of offering different modalities of healing. I work with people individually, in groups, and on retreat and it makes me happy to think of how these different ways of working bring about greater human connections and understanding.

When people come together in settings that are intended for listening to themselves and others magical things can occur.

Do you look back particularly fondly on any memories from childhood?
Ah, I love this question! My first memory is actually my favorite. I was born in NY and my mom used to take me to central park to play. I think I was about 3 and I have this flash of cupping my hands over fireflies and then peeking in to watch them glow.

Contact Info:


Image Credit:
Jennifer Springman
Marielou Mandl

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