Escaping to the Outdoors with Charles Merritt
In only a few hours drive away from Richmond there are mountains, beaches and everything in between. Theoretically an ambitious person can hike the Appalachian Trail and surf the Outer Banks in one weekend. Not to mention, a couple of years ago Outside Magazine named Richmond the Best River Town in America. With so much to do in the outdoors that surrounds us, it’s easy to take it all for granted and miss an opportunity to recharge. Like it or not, we live in a modern world. Despite or, more likely, because of technology, our lives have become increasingly more and more complicated. From commuting through rush hour traffic to getting to the office for that early 9am meeting to preparing reports, there is hardly enough time in the day. It’s difficult to find the time to watch soccer games. Now that work-related e-mails happen at any hour of the day, it’s hard to just to turn off. The toll, both mentally and physically, is tremendous. Encouraging and developing startups is both a reward and a challenge. Our friend Charles Merritt is no stranger to both. By day, he’s a partner at 80amps, a business incubator that builds companies through mentoring entrepreneurs and seeking resources. He is also highly involved in RVA Rapid Transit, an organization established to bring rapid transit to the Richmond metro area, which in turn, will stimulate economic growth and opportunity. “In working in startups mostly in and around technology, the outdoors offers a nice change of pace where you can unplug and focus on being,” Charles told me as we sat down for a couple of over beers at Union Market this past Sunday afternoon. “This is really important because if you forget that focus, it makes it very hard to do things when the world is chaotic around you and you’ve forgotten how to be yourself.” In short, being outside gives him an opportunity to reconnect. Over the weekend, Charles and his brother Brent participated in the inaugural James River Rundown paddle race. The James River Rundown is a 100-mile paddling race that winds through the James River. Starting 25-miles Northeast of Lynchburg and finishing in Richmond. Every couple of years Charles and his brother make sure that they have some sort of outdoor adventure that they go on. Before returning to Richmond to attend the Brandcenter after a successful stretch in the New York City tech-startup scene several year’s ago, Charles hiked 700-miles of the Application Trail, from Georgia to Virginia, with Brent joining him for a portion of the journey. When reflecting on this and the experience from the weekend, Charles said that “It was important, not only for the experience, but it gives you something to look forward to, whether if it’s camping out of the back of your car, hiking, or taking a sailing trip. Whatever it is that you’re doing that disconnects you from your day-to day-life, it gives you the drive to put things into order and perspective.” Time away is healthy. It helps bring back not only energy but focus and perspective. “When I’m having an adventure, there is nothing to distract me. I can put my big timeline things in order and say that these are the things that I really need to do when I get back. The ‘do it or drop it’ mentality makes it very easy to recognize what I need to drop and what I need to be focused on doing.” Summer officially started this past Saturday. We hope you enjoy the season ahead and find some time to make it outdoors.