Adventure Operations Group (AOG) is a veteran owned company dedicated to the pursuit of adventurer. AOG's Training Programs and Adventures will take you "Beyond Normal Limits". AOG leads epic adventures, instructional programs, leadership training and assessments for individuals and organizations. Our programs are unique and emphasize mental focus, individual skills, leadership and personal achievement. We specialize in Human Performance Training. Working with AOG is the best way to achieve "next level" results for your corporate group or to enhance your personal capabilities. Contact AOG today to learn how we can get you or your team "Beyond Normal Limits".


Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Gear casualty report from the field-Patagonia Shorts

My Grandfather was a farmer from Mississippi and grew up in a time when you couldn't just hop in the car and run to Home Depot, or Blue Ridge Mountain Sports and "get a new one".  I take after my Grandfather enough that when I find a piece of gear that works really well, I will use it to the end of it's life. 

All gear and clothing eventually breaks down, stops working, gets worn out or otherwise becomes unusable. It's inevitable.  Sometimes when it happens, it's a minor nuisance.  When a headlamp breaks, or a bike tire wears out, it's not a big deal.  Other times, it's a bit more emotional.  When the blade of a new kayak paddle breaks, or my wife informs me that it's time to stop wearing my favorite Outer Banks Boarding Company T-shirt cause there are too many holes in it, it kinda feels like your not yourself for a day or two, but pretty soon you get another one and you move on.

Other times, a piece of gear or clothing becomes such a part of your life, that when it breaks, your just not sure what to do.  That day has come for me.

I acquired a pair of Patagonia shorts circa 1996.  I traded a friend for them.  They were the wrong size for him so I swapped him for a pair of Quicksilver board shorts that I didn't like. At the time I didn't realize what a great trade that was. I quickly realized that Patagonia had created a near perfect pair of "do everything" shorts.  They were a little shorter than regular board shorts, but not so much that I couldn't surf in them.  They were a little longer than running shorts, but not so much that I couldn't run long distances comfortably in them.  Just a basic, simple little pair of black nylon Patagonia shorts with 3 metal grommet holes and a sewn in piece of nylon cord in leau of a buckle or snaps to close the waistband. I started doing most everything outdoors in them and haven't stopped since, and I haven't been easy on them.  In fact, I have absolutely abused these shorts, to the best of my ability in more time zones, continents, AO's, altitudes, beachbreaks and over more miles of road, trails and singletrack than I can possibly recall. However, here is a list, to the best of my memory (and maintaining opsec) of where these shorts have been and what they have been thru:

  • 2 summers in Glacier National Park; climbing, long hikes, long bikes and many runs; many "training climb/runs" up Divide Mtn
  • 2 surf trips to Costa Rica
  • Whitewater Kayak trips on: Chattooga River (GA/SC), Ocoee River (TN), French Broad/Big Laurel (NC), Nolichucky (TN), New River Gorge (WV), Upper Gauley (WV), Arkansas: Numbers, Browns (CO), Bailey's Creek (CO), Clear Creek (CO)
  • At least 4 half marathons and the majority of my training runs since circa 1997; total mileage unknown but conservatively estimated at 4000 miles
  • The majority of my workouts since 1997 
  • At least one military static line jump
  • Too many runs and rucks to count while training for Special Forces Selection
  • 7 month deployment to Afghanistan (2003)
  • Survived a danger close rocket explosion (Iraq 2004)
  • Too many "official high threat tactical adventure trips" to count (2004-present)
  • 3 Sprint Adventure Races
  • Numerous Mountain Bike trails in (GA, NC, VA, FL, MS, CO, MT)
  • 2 Runs across Golden Gate Bridge
  • Numerous trail runs with Huskies
  • 1 tractor ride with Grandad in MS before he passed away
  • Too many great afternoons on the beach with my family to count
After nearly 15 years and all of the above, this afternoon while doing crossfit in a gym a long ways from home, and halfway through my first set of thrusters, I hear the horrible sound of stitches ripping and I knew that the dreaded day had arrived.  I was so distracted that I couldn't even finish my workout, but solemnly walked back to my room to assess the damage.  Sure enough, the triple stiches along the rear of the shorts had torn over about 4 inches. Amazingly though they didn't tear all the way thru, it's almost as if these shorts are defiant in the face of old age and refuse to go down without a fight. I can't bear to lose them, (especially until I get home) and thankfully I have my survival sewing kit with me on this trip.  So I'm gonna sit here and see if I still remember how to sew by hand, finish watching a movie about the first climb/ski descent of Mt. St Elias, patch up my ultimate adventure shorts from Patagonia and try to get just a few more weeks out of them before I say goodbye.

Thanks Patagonia!

    Monday, September 26, 2011

    Awesome minimalist trails shoes!

    I have a few workouts and runs in these shoes now and they work great.  You can visit the webiste for all the technical specs on these shoes, so I'll focus on a few other areas.  I  think VIVOBAREFOOT has created a near perfect balance of minimalist shoe design, proprioception and much needed protection for the feet on trails.  At times I had to look down to make sure these shoes were still on my feet they are so light and comfortable but I was still able to run aggressively on trails and over gravel, roots and rocks, which is important.  If you are looking for a shoe that will allow you to run hard on trails and still follow the barefoot running style, this is it. 

    They come in other colors, but the ones I have are black and I prefer these over any other color.  For starters, the black shoes resist stains and smears really well, and clean off easy.  The style is simple, subdued and doesn't attract attention, so for the tactical athlete community, these shoes have a high grey factor.  These are go anywhere shoes, on the plane, out to dinner, to the gym or on the trail.  They work well for operator business casual or dressed up a bit with a pair of Mountain Khakis.  Check em out.

    Friday, August 5, 2011

    Great teams

    Check out this link for a good look at one of the Army's best units. 


    Wednesday, July 20, 2011

    Get yourself "in the zone", read "Click. The magic of instant connections"

    This is a book about those mysterious moments when we click in life. Those moments when we are fully engaged and feel a certain natural chemistry or connection with a person, place or activity. Written by brothers Ori and Rom Brafman. Ori is an organizational business consultant and Rom is a psychologist. Click is a psychological investigation of the forces behind what makes us click. What are the hidden forces working to make these magical connections occur? Click accelerators: vulnerability, proximity, resonance and similarity are explored and the authors explain how they work together to create "peak experiences". If you have ever been "in the zone" even once, at work, at play or in a relationshiop, and want to know if it's possible to increase your chances of finding your way back to the zone, check out this book. If you regularly live "in the zone", Click will help you to understand what's going on behind the scenes when it all just feels right and you are in tune and connected to the immediate world around you.

    Exerpts from Click

    ..."similarity, no matter what form it takes, leads to greater likability."

    "Nonetheless, the relationship between industrialization and depression is so strong that scientists know there is some correlation between the two. What is it about the process of a country becoming industrialized that leads to depression?"

    "The experience of men facing life-or-death situations together created unbreakable bonds. In other words, it didn't matter what type of person went into combat-simply the fact that they faced combat together made the soldiers' bond stronger. It is one of the most emotionally charged experiences imaginable."

    A quick and easy read, check it out.

    Sunday, May 8, 2011

    AOG Northern Virginia T.A.C May-2011

    Finished up a 2-day Tactical Adventure Course last week. This was a great group of very smart guys who do important work that you've probably benefited from and didn't even know it. (read that as engineers who build some cool stuff)

    Getting started in the classroom with an introduction to some AOG principles, a discussion about elite teams and an overview of what was to come over the next 2 days.

    SURVEILLANCE Exercise! They drank from the firehose on Day 1 as we covered alot of info in a short time. Before they knew it classroom time was over and it was into the heart of Richmond to try out some urban tracking. The knowledge and skills they learned throughout the day, and the chance to put it to practical use, will keep them safer in their personal and business travels. Most of them also acquired a new appreciation for some of the very difficult behind the scenes work that allows groups like the SEALs and other SOF units to have the information they need to pull off daring missions.

    The morning of Day 2 brought with it a steady rain, perfect conditions to learn the finer points of tactical off-road driving from the best. Here the guys are getting introduced to the concept of "mission critical" vs "hey yall watch this" forms of off-road driving.

    Once again, we covered alot of info in a short time. You never imagined there was so much to learn about "tactical mobility".

    Class is over, time to go. Has anyone seen my Arc Teryx?

    These guys liked to know what they were about to get into.

    High and dry on some easy stuff.
    Won't stay high and dry for long. Vehicle recovery is a mission critical skill and an extension of your driving.

    Extreme AOG teambuilding, suck factor on the rise. Time for action.

    Any great team requires high levels of innovation. As the day wore on, we required lots of it.
    The action continued all day, and ended with a surprise event that some found to be eye opening!
    These guys were great, and though they were sometimes too critical on themselves and rated their own performance too low, they thought thru tactical problems, came up with innovative ideas and worked together to get thru some big challenges.
    Mission accomplished, well done guys.

    Special thanks to the AOG team and the awesome instructors at ORT!

    Wednesday, April 27, 2011

    A good team Part 1

    What makes a good team?  It's a topic I've been fascinated with for a long time.  I've been on good teams, bad teams and great teams.  There's nothing better, in your professional life, than when you are a part of a great team.  But how does it happen?  What factors contribute and what characteristics are present with all great teams?  It's a topic we'll be discussing in the upcoming AOG course.  Some of the best memories I have are great teams I've been on.  Teams can be large, a whole group of company employees with a shared vision.  Teams can be small, a detachment of guys slogging through a tough mission, or you can be a team by yourself.  You can be teamed up with a good job, a good project or a good activity and you just feel that things are great.  The flip side is also true, when your teamed up with the wrong situation, it's miserable, and we've all been there.  So we'll be looking at what makes a good or great team over the next month.  A definition I love, from a previous student in one of our courses, it's simple, elegant and spot on:

    A cohesive group of people, working towards a goal.  Each member knows and trusts what the others do.

    Friday, April 15, 2011

    Mission Ready Equipment

    Check out Mission Ready Equipment.  A great bunch of folks and your one stop shop for tactical and outdoor clothing and equipment needs.
    Mission Ready Equipment

    Saturday, February 12, 2011

    Conventional Wisdom

    Conventional wisdom is exactly that. The world needs it and most people are satisfied by it. But conventional wisdom always lags, always has to react and never pushes the boundaries or tests itself. When it's time to act, time to be unconventional, be ready and do it. Boldly push the boundaries, relying on a solid foundation of individual skills, past experience and a daring vision for the future.

    Thursday, February 10, 2011

    Salomon XR Crossmax Review

    I just finished my first run in the new Salomon XR Crossmax. This neutral, "door to trail" shoe is the latest offering in Salomon's trail running line.  My first reaction was that the XR Crossmax is an EASY shoe to run in.  I typically run in either road shoes or trail shoes and have struggled to find one that works well for both. Runners who are used to a technical trail running shoe, like the XA Pro 3-D Ultra, will immediately notice that the XR Crossmax has a softer feel.  I had to spend just a little longer with the lacing system to find the right fit, but once I did it was the same Salomon fit that I am used to with my XA Pro's, with more comfort.  The XR Crossmax also makes it easier to maintain a forefoot running style than my XA Pro's.  This is a lighter weight shoe designed for neutral, high-mileage runners that could find themselves running on pavement, soft trails or technical trails and it will handle all three environments well.  If you are on the fence about the forefoot running phenomenon and are hesitant to adopt one of the more radical options that are currently on the market, but are interested in making a small paradigm shift towards a more neutral, forefoot running style without sacrificing total support and protection on trails, the XR Crossmax is the shoe for you.  If you are running barefoot, or nearly barefoot and want a shoe for high mileage days that include some trails, the XR Crossmax is the shoe for you.  I will continue to wear my XA Pro 3-D Ultras for advanced and technical trails, or adventure races, where more support is needed due to super aggressive running and terrain.  And I will continue to wear my road shoes for long road runs.  But I do predict that MOST of my time running will now be spent in the XR Crossmax.  Do we finally have the perfect crossover shoe for road and trail?

    Wednesday, February 2, 2011

    Outside Magazine puts Kelly Slater on Cover

    Outside Magazine was right to put Kelly Slater on the cover of February's edition.  The editor makes the argument that Slater's 10th World Title win is one of the greatest, if not the greatest, single achievement by an individual in all of sports history and since neither of the two mainstream sports magazines would cover it, Outside Magazine once again chose to highlight a great accomplishment by one of surfing's most iconic individuals. Slater won his first World Title in 1992.  To remain highly competitive for nearly 20 years in competitive surfing, where each season brings a new crop of super talented and hungry young radical competitors is amazing.  Slater has handled each paradigm shift in surfing's continuous evolution with ease. To continue to win world titles year after year, remain uber relevant to the sport and show no signs of slacking off is  truely one of the great stories in sports and a true of demonstration of high achievement.  Congrats to Kelly Slater and good on Outside Magazine for highlighting the accomplishments of one of surfing's living legends.

    Kelly Slater

    Tuesday, February 1, 2011

    Fortune's Top 100 Best Companies

    Fortune just published it's annual Top 100 Best Companies to work for. 

    Number 1 on the list for the second year is SAS, the software firm headquarted in Cary, NC.  SAS perks include on site health care, summer campl for kids and a salon

    Outdoor industry notables:

    REI is ranked at number 9.  Headquarted in Kent, Washington, the company rewards employees who work 15 years with a 4 week paid sabbatical, after that, they can take one every 5 years.  Also included are huge discounts on gear and equipment.

    W.L Gore & Associates, the makers of Gore-Tex is ranked at number 31.  Based in Newark, Delaware, the company has a unique hierarcy that has few traditional job titles.  The company looks for "people with a high tolerance for ambiguity."

    AOG Lifestyle

    We have combined the SOF ethos and real world experiences with adventurous outdoor skills and action sports to create a unique lifestyle focused on improving individuals and teams and staying prepared for life's best missions.  

    Saturday, January 1, 2011

    Tactical Adventure Course 2007

    In the spring of 2007 I was told on a Friday afternoon that I would have a group of 10 corporate executives showing up on the following Monday.  They would be there for 5 days and were looking for a teambuilding experience.  My only guidance was that they didn't want to be seriously hurt, beyond that, they were up for anything. 

    I quickly went to work and designed a challenging 5 day Tactical Adventure Course that consisted of 4 days training with a final mission.  This course was seriously fun for everyone.  We trained them for 4 days on a variety of Special Operations stuff, too much to mention here, using the crawl, walk, run approach.  They were challenged, learned to communicate with each other in new ways, how to think on their feet and solve problems as a team all the while doing things they never imagined.  On Thursday afternoon we gave them their mission brief.  Their planning and preparation lasted well into the night and on the following morning, their mission began. 

    Most of their training and mission will remain confidential, only they know the real story, but it was a tough mission, required them to work together using all of their training, and in the end, they won.

    Here's a few brief shots of the final day.

    After mulitple insertions by helicopter, the team linked up and conducted movement to the objective, where a surprise was waiting for them.

    With little time to spare, they had to work fast to sort through some unexpeced challenges and get moving before they were comprimised.

    Don't spend too much time talking about it, action is required.

    Two team members making a fast escape off the X.

    I don't know if they had more fun, or I did, but it was a great 5 days.  Everyone learned more than they expected and the daily debriefs gave all participants a chance to express individual perspectives and thoughts.  Job well done guys! 

    Let Adventure Operations Group design a custom Tactical Adventure Course for your team or small group.


    Tactical Adventure Course

    What is a Tactical Adventure Course?  Adventure Travel + Action Skills + Special Operations + you and your team being trained by expert instructors to accomplish tough missions based around real life scenarios.  AOG's Tactical Adventure Courses will improve the performance and mission focus of your team.  We are the experts at small group tactical adventures and specialized training.