James Madison University Recreation’s Guy deBrun wins national award

james madison university jmuJames Madison University recognizes a staff member who brought home top accolades in the outdoor education and leadership field.

Guy deBrun, assistant director for the Adventure and TEAM programs with University Recreation Center, received the national Jim Rennie Leadership Award presented by the national Association for Outdoor Recreation and Education.

The award recognizes a professional in the field who has had an outstanding impact on outdoor recreation and education as a whole and whose contributions surpass expectations.

For eight years deBrun has instilled a love of the outdoors and adventure in thousands of students in the beautiful Blue Ridge and Allegheny Mountains. Last year, the UREC Adventure program had a direct impact on 18,000 climbs, 3,000 challenge course participants, 2,600 equipment renters, and 1,000 trip participants.

deBrun cultivates an open and effective work environment where he leads by example and teaches his expansive skillset through individual and group training.

Steve Bobbitt, UREC’s associate director for programming, nominated deBrun for this award and attributes his success to his pure passion and desire to convey the same devotion to all of his students and community.

“I have known Guy for almost 20 years now and his professionalism, expertise, and knowledge have continued to grow over time,” Bobbitt said. “Guy has not only dedicated himself to his work on campus, but also to the betterment of the field of outdoor recreation with his service locally.”

deBrun is currently working on his Ph.D. in strategic leadership at JMU in hopes of preparing future leaders in the field of outdoor recreation. Alongside his work and education at JMU, deBrun still strives to incorporate the greater meaning of adventure in all of his programs.

Stevie Shickel, graduate assistant for Adventure and TEAM programs at UREC, has considered deBrun a mentor and speaks to his direct impact on her love for the outdoors.

“When I first met Guy, I had very little connection to or appreciation for the outdoors,” Shickel said. “Since then, I have learned first-hand that the outdoors is a very powerful and transformative tool for growth.”

Not only has deBrun sustained the current outdoor climate at JMU and had direct impact on thousands of students, he has worked extensively to make UREC Adventure an inclusive program. He has crafted relationships with numerous foundations and received grants to include underrepresented students and create a comforting and welcoming environment for all students.

For the past several years, deBrun has planned and executed Paddle Fest, a fun-filled afternoon on a local river. Paddle Fest is a partnership with the Center for Multicultural Student Services with a goal of getting as many students involved with the outdoors as possible.

“Guy has demonstrated what it looks like to be a connected member in the greater community of outdoor recreation,” Shickel said. “He consistently gives of his time and energy in an effort to create opportunities for others.”

deBrun’s work extends past the Shenandoah Valley with his regional, national, and international programs for JMU students and his inherent impact on furthering the reach of AORE.

“In the end, I can’t think of a more deserving recipient of this award,” Bobbitt said.


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