A full moon rises atop Terrace Hill one warm January night, and 37 people sit in a circle. Sounds of guitar strums and a didgeridoo echo outward, guiding students through yoga poses in the moonlight alongside their instructor.
This experience was made possible through Adventure Aide, an online platform designed to connect people to adventure opportunities in the San Luis Obispo area and beyond.
Users who download the Adventure Aide app can sign up for a wide range of activities, from horseback riding to one-on-one surfing lessons. The app also offers atypical adventures such as nature photography workshops, or a guided food tour through downtown San Luis Obispo.
“It connects people from all over the area, of all ages, of all interests, and it brings them together under one common love of the outdoors,” journalism senior and Adventure Aide intern Molly O’Brien said.
The adventures range in price. Some trips are free, such as wakeboarding days out on Lake Nacimiento; others, such as $60 surf lessons with equipment provided, vary in price.
“The trips don’t fill up as quickly as Poly Escapes do, and they cost a lot less, too,” O’Brien said.
Adventure Aide partners with adventure enthusiasts and professionals in the community, known as “aides,” who guide users along different adventures. Journalism senior and avid biker Sean Bird led a mountain biking adventure through Poly Canyon in the fall.
Users are not the only ones who gain a positive experience through the app. It provides aides with an opportunity to make money while sharing their passions with others.
“The greatest part about mountain biking for me is being able to share the experience with others,” Bird said. “As an aide, that’s one of the attractive parts of the platform: taking your every day ride or local adventure and being able to pass that on to someone who’s never experienced that before.”
Adventure Aide CEO Connor Woolpert is a San Luis Obispo native, skydiver, surfer, snowboarder and former Cal Poly student. He grew up traveling, inspired by his adventures and the people he met along the way.
“One night, I was writing down all my ideas, and I kind of had a ‘lightbulb’ moment,” Woolpert said. “I thought it would be really cool to give people this all-access pass to the outdoors, and on the other side, give people an opportunity to create a business and a lifestyle out of what they love to do and make money doing it.”
So, he threw himself into the app.
“During that time, the idea was taking over my life,” Woolpert said. “I invested all my time on it.”
He dropped out of Cal Poly shortly after.
“Frankly, I thought about [Adventure Aide] every minute of every day,” Woolpert said. “There came a point where I thought, ‘I’m not invested in my time in school anymore. This is everything I want to do, so I’m gonna just go for it.’”
The app was launched in 2017.
Fours years after that “lightbulb moment,” Adventure Aide is expanding its range of activities, as well as expanding its reach south to include activities as far away as Los Angeles. Eventually, Woolpert hopes to take the adventures international.
“We’re working on expanding to give people access to everything there is to do outdoors, whether it’s in [San Luis Obispo] or Alaska or Patagonia,” Woolpert said.
According to Woolpert, the iOS and Android apps are in the process of being “vastly upgraded”— improving user interface and adding features like adventure requests, which will allow users to interact with aides and request specific adventure times and activities.
Adventure Aide in the process of testing the upgraded Android app; it will likely be available in the next week , according to Woolpert. The upgraded iOS app will be available on the App Store March 7.
When O’Brien recalled her favorite Adventure Aide moment, she thought of the full moon yoga flow that January night. The moonlight illuminated Terrace Hill as Adventure Aide users walked to the hilltop together, forming a connection even before laying down their mats. As she looked around at this 360 view of San Luis Obispo, one word came to mind: “magical.”
“SLO is the perfect kind of area for us to have these adventure experiences,” O’Brien said. “And Adventure Aide really gives you an opportunity to take advantage of it to its full potential.”