Photo by Emma Pure

Photo by Emma Pure

Hometown: Potomac, MD

Years around the sun: Almost 33

Happiest place outside: Next to a swiftly moving stream

How'd you land in Ithaca, New York?

I came to Ithaca to get my MBA from Cornell. It was a big move from living 4 years in Nicaragua, but I was ready to come back to the states. Emma and I had heard so many great things about Ithaca as a town, and I was excited to also be able to take classes at the Hotel School while getting my MBA, so it was a great fit. Oh, and I was crazy lucky to be awarded a scholarship through the Park Leadership Fellows program ... it was a no-brainer.

Can you remember the first time you slept outside? 

No ... but I do have a vivid memory of a very early 'outdoor' experience - I must have been about 6 at the time. I was standing next to a river fishing with my dad and my brother and I was totally freaked out by these little green grasshoppers that kept smacking into my face. I started crying and had to wait in the car until they finished. Manly huh? 

Do you have a favorite story about one of our glampers? 

We had a young, wide-eyed couple drive up from the Bronx one weekend. They immediately started asking questions about the dangers of deer, raccoons, and coyotes as they were checking in, and it was obvious that they were pretty nervous. They were hanging around the fire pit in the evening, and we discovered they had never been camping before or ever tried a s'more! It was so sweet to see the other guests get very excited to show them how to make a s'more and give them marshmallow roasting tips. The couple ended up having an amazing experience and it was so rewarding for me to see how Firelight can make the outdoors a little more accessible and comfortable for first-time campers.

Tell me about the best hotel you ever stayed in and three words that describe why it was such a memorable experience.

I don't know about 'best' hotel but a very memorable one for me is the 'Buena Vista Surf Club' in Nicaragua. The name doesn't quite do it justice, but it had an incredible juxtaposition of ruggedness and luxury (something I love). There were only about 8 cabins with thatch roofs spread over a hill overlooking the pacific. They were very private and open to the elements so you would wake up to the sound of the waves and look out over the jungle canopy at howler monkeys right from your bed. There was an amazing huge deck and common area where all the guests came together each evening over a home-cooked meal. Three words or phrases to describe it? Monkeys, honor bar (!), and gracious hosts.

You have to build a fire in under 60 seconds. Describe how you do it. Go! 

Easy. Whistle the top secret Firelight staff birdcall and watch a camp host jump into action. Then saunter over to our beautiful stone fire pit and say something slick to the lounging guests like "getting a little chilly? Would you like to warm your toes?" Assemble the kindling. Crumple the newspaper. Light the match. Toss in the nicely seasoned hard-wood.

What is your dream adventure?

High up on my list at the moment: taking my 1-year-old daughter, Ayla, on a real multi-night camping trip (she's only been glamping to date). Another dream is to go on a multi-night Norwegian sea-kayaking trip with lots of cool little Scandinavian cabins involved. Oh, and a Moroccan desert Berber tented camel adventure with lots of carpets, darbukas and strong coffee.

Bobby and Ayla Glamping at Conestoga Ranch in Utah.

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