Who We Are

High 5 Staff

Todd Brown: Challenge Course Development Manager, Co-Founder

High 5's resident authority on design, construction and inspection of challenge course facilities, Todd has built hundreds of challenge courses and is experienced on a wide variety of building styles including indoor, outdoor, poles and trees, dynamic and static courses. He also manages the talented crew that installs, builds and inspects those courses. "It's different from day to day and week to week," he said about his job. Motivated by the problem-solving aspect of his work, he said, "I like meeting new people and helping them design activities and programs that fit their needs."

Todd spent 11 years with Project Adventure before joining High 5 as a founding member in 2000. "We're a dedicated group of people that really cares about our clients and their program needs." He has been involved with ACCT since its inception and was present during the drafting of the original installation standards. "You won't find a more dependable person," says Jim Grout. "He's very proud of what he does and knows what he's doing. You always get his best effort." Todd holds a Bachelor of Science in Outdoor Recreation from Unity College.

Jim Grout: Director and Co-Founder

Jim is a veteran of more than 30 years in the adventure education field and has trained thousands of people in the art of adventure facilitation. High 5 was founded in 2000 as an educational organization to help people develop critical thinking and problem solving skills. "We're not just jumping around in trees," he says. The focus at High 5, he said, is to improve communication and relationships among the wide variety of groups they work with. He also wears an administrative hat and works with his staff to make sure that they meet the needs of their clients while enjoying what they do. "I care about everyone here. It's a family atmosphere." High 5, he said, "is a place for people to do work that they love in an exciting environment." When it comes to programming, Jim's extensive knowledge and avid commitment to the power of adventure education are evident throughout High 5's programs. "We focus on developing the individual and the team."

He presents regularly at AEE, Association for Experiential Education, ACCT, Association for Challenge Course Technology and AAHPERD, American Association of Health, Physical Education, Recreation and Dance conferences, regionally and nationally, and served on the Certification Standards Committee of the Association for Challenge Course Technology. He has co-authored two books on adventure education, "The High 5 Guide: Challenge Course Operating Procedures for the Thinking Practitioner" with Nicki Hall and "Back Pocket Adventure" with Karl Rohnke. He has also written numerous articles for various publications in the field. He holds a Masters in Education from Salem State University in Salem, MA.

Liz Moore: Training and Program Design

Liz joined our High 5 team in early 2013 having worked in Adventure Education at a variety of school programs along the east coast and at a university in Maryland. With a background in Anthropology and Geography, once Liz discovered Adventure Education she exclaimed, "I had finally found my true passion. A way to bring my studies of people and our world into an educational setting that is not only effective, but exciting".

Her travels and studies around the world give her a unique perspective on human dynamics. Liz brings high energy and devotion to the field. She enjoys the diversity of work High 5 brings, from 5th graders, to school faculty, to professional sports teams, and believes the challenge her work offers is a large reason she has continued with it.

Liz has presented at our High 5 symposium, and at AEE on practicing team-building in foreign lands. She is a budding contributor to our blog and now a strong voice within our training team. You'll find Liz equally excited to play in a field with 5th graders and engage in deep discussion about the philosophy of adventure education and why it is so important.

Jennifer Ottinger: Associate Executive Director

Jen oversees our business, financial and marketing efforts. She has over 20 years of experience in business management and marketing, having developed her skills at agencies and design firms in New York, New Jersey and Colorado before joining High 5 in 2002. "I've watched the organization grow and become what it is," she says. "I love making the business operation work for people who are on the front lines. It's fun to work with these creative people and be a part of that and contribute." She says that like most of the folks at High 5, she wears many hats and that the rewards come from being part of an amazing group of people. "I get such a kick out of working with people who are the best at what they do. It's a fun place to be." Working with our clients, she says, is energizing and even entertaining, which isn't surprising when the nature of the business is fun and based on success. Jim Grout calls her the Radar O'Reilly of High 5. "She hears the helicopters coming before anyone else," he says. "She's highly competent and does it all in a delightful manner."

Gary Hillsgrove: Lead Builder

Gary works on all aspects of challenge course building/design and especially likes the building aspect, stemming from a background in the building trades focusing on custom, organic structures. His building skills combined with his passion for climbing, result in creative challenge course elements and designs for High 5 and its customers. "Climbing walls are one of my favorite things to build as it brings out both my love of climbing and building to create unique structures," he says.

He began in the adventure field with Wingspeed Adventures in 2001, and then joined High 5 part time in 2004, becoming full time in 2007. The best part of his job? "Being outside most of the time, being able to climb for a living, and most of all the people I work with," he said. "Our mission has remained solid--to build great products and teach people how to use them, with our goal to make real change in how people view themselves, connect with others and better their lives. There are not a lot of other organizations that can boast this in a simple sense like we can."

It's no surprise that Gary spends his spare time hiking and climbing, having completed all 48 of the 4,000-foot peaks in New Hampshire about three years ago. He's now setting his sights on the High Peaks of the Adirondacks. An Eagle Scout, he said he learned life skills spending most of his teenage years with the Boy Scouts. "Gary is rock solid," says Jim Grout. "He pays attention to detail and takes pride in what he does. He's a very creative builder."

Lucas Germano: Lead Builder

With a degree in adventure sports in one hand and carpentry skills in the other, Lucas joined High 5 in 2008 as a builder's assistant and has developed into a lead builder and inspector, installing and inspecting challenge courses at client sites all across New England. He grew up in Gettysburg, PA, is an outdoor enthusiast, and likes to spend his leisure time climbing and kayaking. He likes being part of a program that gets people outside, educates people and makes being active fun and challenging. Lucas does great work, says Jim Grout; he's a skilled builder and enjoyable to be around.

Dave Klim: Lead Builder

Dave is based in Maine and has 20 years in the challenge course business, beginning with Project Adventure in 1989. Prior to joining the team at High 5 in 2002, Dave ran his own successful business, Maine Ropes Inc., for three years. He likes going to places that are off the beaten track. "I move around," he says of his job. "I'm not always in one place. I end up seeing a lot of nice places - camps, retreats, conference centers." Dave has a deep knowledge of the adventure field, says Jim Grout, and Dave adds that he and all the staff at High 5 are "dedicated to doing a good job for our customers. They're getting quality training and quality instruction and quality equipment. We stay up with changes in the field and what's new."

An avid outdoor enthusiast, he spends his time on home improvement projects and biking when he can. He looks for riding opportunities wherever he happens to be. Dave holds degrees from Lyndon State College and Georgia College and State University.

Ian Doak: Ropes Course Design, Coordinator and a Lead Builder

Ian is our Challenge Course Development Coordinator, and also a talented lead builder and trainer for High 5. He is responsible for all of our building department's logistics and development including proposals, scheduling and customer liaison. "I love the connections I have with our customers," he says. "I also love designing challenge courses that really meet the program needs. It's great when a customer can see our ideas and really starts to get excited."

With a background in both building and adventure management--he worked for three years building timber-frame homes and has a bachelor's degree from Lyndon State College in Adventure Based Programming--he also is a certified NOLS instructor and has taught backpacking, rock and ice climbing, mountaineering, canoeing and kayaking, skiing, teambuilding and challenge course programs.

Ian coordinates all aspects regarding challenge course design from inspections, repairs and new construction. He's usually the first person customers talk to when they want to start a program and will be the one to visit them for the first site evaluation. He has been in the adventure field since 1996 and joined High 5 in 2004. He is known among his colleagues as being very thorough and conscientious. "Ian's throroughness adds a lot of quality to everything we do at High 5," says Jim Grout.

Ryan MCormick: Training and Program Design, Edge of Leadership Director

Ryan is an integral member of our training team who brings a rich background in the adventure field and many years of experience - he's been in the field since 1996. "As a kid I fell in love with it." He has a degree in adventure based Recreation Resource Management from Lyndon State College. He then spent 6 years at Hulbert Outdoor Center in Fairlee, Vt., as a School Program Instructor, climbing specialist and Assistant Director of School Programs. Ryan then spent 4 years at Project Adventure until joining us in 2010. He loves the diversity of clients and the opportunity that provides him to be creative in developing programs that are fun as well as meaningful. He likes helping clients develop programs that are challenging as well as educational, all the while keeping in mind "How can we keep it fun?" He likes to challenge people to be their best and learn about themselves and the people they're with. "There's deep stuff happening," he says.

Ryan also shares his talent, enthusiasm and knowledge as a contributor to High 5's Adventure by the Handful blog, which he says is a forum of resources, activities and ideas on everything from program management to good tools to use. "Ryan is extremely creative and can walk into any job and make it a success," says Jim Grout. "He has great people skills."

Anne Louise Wagner: Edge of Leadership Teacher

Anne Louise is the first additional member to the Edge of Leadership team after concluding her on-campus studies at SIT Graduate Institute in the spring of 2015. Her commitment to social-emotional development with youth and co-creating nurturing learning communities has only grown since her introduction to the adventure education field in 2009 at Hartwick College. Her self-designed master's program is prominently aligned with EOL, using experiential learning to foster empowering leaders and build authentic relationships within schools. Anne Louise is excited to join the High 5 team with EOL's implementation, coordination, and advancement at the center of her responsibilities. She looks forward to grow with the program and explore the great depth and sustainable impact EOL can and will have on school communities and beyond for years to come.

Susan Brown: Office Coordinator

Susan joined us in 2015, originally as a temp and then permanently when we quickly discovered her skills and energy. Susan has a lengthy background in teaching early education and in family support services and holds a Bachelor of Liberal Arts degree.
Susan is the "voice" of High 5: she'll most likely be the one that happily answers your call to our office. She also coordinates details for the trainings, fulfills catalog orders, processes workshop registrations, and manages the High 5 store and other logistical needs.
Although Susan has known much about High 5 over the years (her husband is Challenge Course Development Manager and High 5 Co-Founder Todd Brown) it wasn't until she took the Adventure Basics workshop that she obtained the full perspective of the High 5's mission. "I found Adventure Basics to be a phenomenal learning experience. From the planning of a safe environment to the progression of games to the high ropes elements, it all gave me the unique understanding of how important this work is. You not only learn about yourself, you learn about others -- how we communicate and think. You learn the value of leadership and how each of us can work together to arrive at a common goal. It was also fun, which as an early educator, is the integral ingredient for learning. It is an honor to be a part of the High 5 Adventure Learning Center team."

Phil Brown: Trainer

Phil joined the High 5 team as a trainer in 2015. Originally from England, Phil first came to the US in 2008 working as an Outdoor Educator and Challenge Course Coordinator at the New York YMCA Camp. It was here that his love for the Adventure Education field was ignited, discovering the joy and rewards playing and teaching inside and out alongside such a varied range of people, all who benefit from the the experience. His work in the realms of summer camp, outdoor education, and physical education give him an invaluable perspective for working with of High 5's varied clientele. Phil is so excited and honored to have been welcomed into the High 5 family and looks forward to bringing his passion and strong sense of play to the team. He believes that each experience with every group member is a learning opportunity for him, no matter who he's working with. He has as much to learn from youth as youth can learn from him.

Chris Damboise: Director of Training & Team Development

Chris is the newest member of the training team; he brings an abundance of experience in the adventure field to bear on his leadership role within High 5. " I love the way intentional adventure programming bring groups of people together in ways that otherwise would take years of time to reproduce." Chris holds a degree in Recreation and Park Management with a specialty in Environmental Interpretation from the University of Maine. He previously worked at Project Adventure in a few different roles: most recently as Director of Credentialing Services & Technical Training and previously as Director of the Challenge Course Design and Installation department. The best part of working at High 5? "Collaborating with so many creative, passionate and mission driven colleagues. They are amazing!"

Chris is also a course provider for the PCIA (Professional Climbing Instructors Association) and is a Council Member of the AEE (Association for Experiential Education) Accreditation Council. A recent writing project culminated in the publication of Knot Tying for the Challenge Course Practitioner. In the field of adventure education for over 30 years, his other experience includes being an owner and senior guide for Acadia Mountain Guides (an AMGA Accredited climbing school); chief climber, course director and instructor for the Hurricane Island Outward Bound School and an experiential education specialist with the Atlanta Outward Bound Center. Most of his formative years were spent as an outdoor educator with the University of Maine, Maine Bound programs. Chris lives in the wonderful Berkshires of western Massachusetts with his wife, where he has access to all manner of outdoor terrain to muck about in. During time off he can often be found rock climbing, hiking or backcountry skiing.

Jamie Thibodeau: Assistant Builder

Jamie joined High 5 in April of 2015 as an assistant builder and continues in that position today. Prior to working at High 5 Jamie worked at a camp in the Adirondack Park in New York, managing the challenge course, supervising maple production and performing various maintenance tasks on the 1200 acre property. Jamie transitioned to High 5 easily, has aspirations to grow within the organization, and to contribute to the betterment of challenge courses and the industry as a whole. Jamie has been involved in adventure education for 14 years (building and facilitating) and sees the ever-present need for for it. "I've seen many lives changed for the better because of something that has happened on a ropes course. And, any company that has worked with the Boston Bruins must be great!!" He grew up in Northern Maine where he enjoyed hunting, fishing, hiking and biking.

Lisa Hunt: Training and Program Design

Lisa joins the organization as the newest member of the Training and Team Development team, after 20 years of experience in facilitating and training in the field. Her degree in Anthropology and Sociology combined with her certificate in Outdoor Leadership from Greenfield Community College merged well to create a foundation of curiosity about culture and organizations, and how aspects of risk and adventure impact all of us.

"I had a formative experience at a camp in Vermont at the age of 12. My camp counselor took her time with us, a group of young girls. She facilitated a process of creating group norms, she modeled the power of reflecting on an experience, and she took me above tree line for the first time in my life. And while the views from Mt. Mansfield were stunning, it was the safety of the group and the sense of togetherness that stuck with me the most. That was the spark that sent me on my way to the career that so well serves my character and values."

Lisa's work with camp staff, teachers, coaches, administrators, and youth and teen populations is grounded in the understanding that an activity-such as her hike up Mt. Mansfield-when well facilitated-can create life changing experiences for people. "What's so exciting about the work that High 5 does is that we don't need to take people on expeditions or thrilling rock climbs in order to experience the benefits of real adventure. It can happen anywhere!".

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