May 23, 2023

Outdoor Centre employee's exceptional service earns nomination for 2023 White Hat Award

Award finalist Ryan Flinkfelt helps create memorable lifetime experiences for his clients
Ryan Flinkfelt rock climbing with the Outdoor Centre in 2022.
Ryan Flinkfelt rock climbing with the Outdoor Centre in 2022. Paul Chiddle

An employee with the University of Calgary’s Outdoor Centre has been named a finalist for one of Calgary’s top tourism awards.

Ryan Flinkfelt, BSc’18, an equipment and services administrator, is a nominee in the Exceptional Service: Tour Escort|Guide category for the 2023 White Hat Awards. The awards recognize outstanding Calgarians who excel in improving the visitor experience and contributing to the positive reputation of the city’s tourism industry.

Ryan Flinkfelt on the Wapta Traverse in 2022

Ryan Flinkfelt on the Wapta Traverse in 2022.

Shannon Jason

His nomination came from a regular client of the Outdoor Centre, Shannon Bryant, who was impressed after undertaking a five-day traverse across the Columbia Icefield guided by Outdoor Centre manager Paul Chiddle and assisted by Flinkfelt. Calgary is often a home base for exploring the Rockies. 

“Ryan helps create some of those memorable, lifetime experiences,” says Chiddle. “We run trips that are once-in-a-lifetime, enjoyable experiences for Calgarians and for visitors, too. And when we get repeat clients that come back, it shows that Ryan, or any one of us, are doing a great job.”

Chiddle says Flinkfelt’s nomination helps raise awareness that the Outdoor Centre is a big contributor to the tourism industry in Calgary. The centre is part of the Faculty of Kinesiology and Active Living, and it encourages the community to explore the great outdoors through a variety of programs and rentals.

Flinkfelt says the centre attracts visitors from Calgary (like Bryant) and beyond who want to explore the best the region has to offer.

Ryan Flinkfelt at the Rogers Pass in 2023

Ryan Flinkfelt at the Rogers Pass in 2023.

Shannon Jason

“We want lots of tourists to be able to come and enjoy what we enjoy doing here ourselves, and the more we can share that with others, I think it's great and it gives people a positive experience for being here,” says Flinkfelt.

Chiddle adds: “There’s a lot of people that assume that the Outdoor Centre is just for students and staff, but we have a wider audience within and outside of Calgary, as well as clients that come from all over the world. So, hopefully, this nomination will increase our visibility and attract more people to Calgary and to the Outdoor Centre.”

On May 24, Chiddle, among several other staff members from the Outdoor Centre, will be attending the White Hat Awards ceremony at the Southern Alberta Jubilee Auditorium to support and cheer on their co-worker.

“I think being nominated for it made me recognize I can really make a difference for people, so I'm really striving for that, and I want to continue to be able to do that,” says Flinkfelt. “But it's awesome having the support of my team, recognizing and supporting me throughout that process.”

The Outdoor Centre, part of the Faculty of Kinesiology and Active Living, has been renting gear and teaching outdoor skills for more than 45 years. Its goal is to make outdoor activities affordable and accessible by providing the skills and equipment needed, and by creating a friendly and safe learning environment. You don't have to be a student; its rentals, programs and trips are open to everyone on and off campus.

Sign up for UToday

Sign up for UToday

Delivered to your inbox — a daily roundup of news and events from across the University of Calgary's 14 faculties and dozens of units

Thank you for your submission.