John Courcy explores life through the outdoors world


About two-and-a-half years ago, senior John Courcy was introduced to the sport of rock climbing. His brother had just returned from a three-month-long backpacking trip to the Rocky Mountains at the time, and he had picked up a lot about the sport. 

Following in these footsteps, John decided to give rock climbing a try. As it turns out, it became something he really enjoys doing.

“I loved [rock climbing] from the very start,” John said. “Now, after more than two years, I try to get out to climb as much as I can.”

While rock climbing initially started out as a hobby for John—trying something new—it now stands as an important part of his life. 

The sport has shown John a wide variety of things. He has been able to learn several lessons through his climbing. The sport helped him not only grow as a climber, but as an overall person.

“Climbing has definitely tested my patience,” John said. “It takes a lot of patience, determination, and practice to learn the ins-and-outs of the sport, which are obviously really good traits to have. It’s a great way for me to relieve stress, too.”

John could’ve never predicted that rock climbing would become such a prominent feature of his life, but it has. 

However, rock climbing isn’t the only activity that has shaped John to be who he is today. While right now, most of John’s rock climbing takes place inside, he also takes on lots of activities outside, including hiking.

I just really enjoy that every place has a story to tell—a history behind it—and to me that’s beautiful.”

— John Courcy

“I like hiking because it forces me to interact with nature differently than just sightseeing out of a car,” John said. “Hiking lets you experience nature with your whole body and mind, plus I love the exercise aspect of it.”

Hiking is something that brought John to really connect with the outdoors. To most people, nature is just a part of the world, but it has more importance to John.

“I just really enjoy that every place has a story to tell—a history behind it—and to me that’s beautiful,” John said. 

For the majority of his life, John has been exposed to the outdoors, and that has had a strong, positive impact on him. 

Part of this exposure comes from his family’s love of traveling and exploring different places around the world.

“My whole family shares the same love for travel,” John said. “So, whenever we can get out of GR, we take the opportunity. At least once a year we visit a new state park, leave the state, sometimes even the country if we can manage it.”

Most of the Courcy family trips consist of hiking and sightseeing. They have been all around Michigan and the U.P., visited five or six different national parks, and gone to common attractions, such as Disney World and on a cruise.

However, above all, John’s most memorable trip has been his family’s recent travels to several different national parks in the United States and Canada.

“All of the trips I’ve been on in recent years have been super active and physically demanding,” John said, “which, to me, makes them much more rewarding when I look back on them. That is one of the main reasons why this summer’s travels stand as some of my favorites.”

John’s personal love for traveling comes within the beauty that each new place holds.

“I love it because, to me, every place has its own beauty, and finding that beauty can be really fulfilling and exciting,” John said. 

Among all the beautiful places John has seen, he does have a favorite. In Banff, Canada this past summer, John discovered a rock field lying with a valley, surrounded on 3 sides by huge mountains, one topped with the biggest glacier in North America. To this day, each detail still remains definite in his mind.

“In the center of the valley there was a lake, so still and clear that it reflected the mountains like a mirror,” John said. “I loved it because of the contrast between the still lake and the towering mountains; it was just crazy to me that they could be so close together, yet so different.”

John doesn’t plan to stop following this passion for traveling and seeing the world around him anytime soon. One of his personal goals is to visit all of the national parks—all sixty. 

This goal sprouted from John’s infatuation with the uniqueness of each park he has visited so far. Each one has been amazing and he just wants to see more.

[My outdoor endeavors] have taught me that sometimes, it’s good to stop and admire the little things in life.”

— John Courcy

“I’m sure every single park is unique and beautiful in its own way,” John said, “and I hope that someday I can say that I’ve experienced all of these places.” 

Through traveling, rock climbing, hiking, and all the other things John takes part in, he has grown a love for exploring the outdoor world around him. He has a fondness for how nature pulls one’s full attention, forcing you to look deeper into what surrounds you.

“I guess I’d say that my favorite part [about exploring the outdoors] is that you really have to be fully invested in nature when you’re there,” John said. “Physically and mentally, you have to be completely there if you want to get the whole story.”

This aspect of nature has affected John as a person. His eyes have been opened to this world so much bigger than most people know.

“[My outdoor endeavors] have taught me that sometimes, it’s good to stop and admire the little things in life,” John said. “Traveling has taught me a lot about how different the world can be, and it’s shown me how important it is to not get stuck in the same perspective.”

Other than just exploring life through the outdoors, John also is a member of the FHC Drumline, takes several challenging classes, and is now an actor in the Spring Musical, an activity which he just recently picked up. 

He has a lot on his plate, but he manages to balance it all. He has positive outlets that help him persevere through his busy days.

“Apart from nature, being around other people is a good way for me to let off steam,” John said. “And more recently, I joined the musical, which has so far been a very positive experience for me.”

John also gives credit to his siblings for not only helping him become who he is today, but also for being inspirations in the things he does today. Being the youngest of three, John has been able to learn a lot.

“I’m the youngest in my family,” John said, “so it’s nice to have two people that I’m so close to and have shared so many experiences with as my role models. [My siblings] have definitely helped me to become who I am today, in all of the best ways.”

So, who is John Courcy? An adventurer, a traveler, a rock climber, a hiker, a good student, a brother, a kid with admirable aspirations ahead of him—all of the above.

Above all, John finds himself to be inspired—inspired by the world around him, inspired by the people that surround him, and inspired to live his life to the utter fullest.

“I’d choose inspired [as a word to describe me],” John said. “I really just want to make the most of my life and help others however I can.”