Tom Shelstad


Inner Guide Expedition Tom
For Tom, adventure is a way of life. He grew up in the land of 10,000 lakes, where his family’s cabin was host to the water sports, campfires and wooded hikes that nurtured his love of the outdoors and passion for exploration.  In middle and high school he got his start in the wilderness pursuits on paddling trips with his dad into the Boundary Waters Canoe Area in Northern Minnesota.  Ralf Waldo Emerson said: “The creation of a thousand forests is in one acorn”.  These seeds sprouted into a life of exploration.  His extensive outdoor experience has brought him backpacking in many of the most beautiful places on the planet and continues to find adventures this amazing life has to offer. He has sailed 1000 miles from Fiji to New Zealand, climbed 1400ft granite walls in Yosemite, and scaled some the highest mountains in the US. Tom believes that life is richest at the edge of your unfolding, at the intersection of awareness, presence, and engagement.


Tom co-founded Inner Guide Expeditions knowing the intrinsic richness in the exploration of both the inner and outer worlds.   Wilderness adventures are the perfect place to grow.  When people are a little outside of their comfort zone, they are more open to experience life in new ways and see from different perspectives.  “Comfort and growth…”, he says, “…rarely take up the same time and place.”  Add “play” into the mix, along with the depth of connection, and you have a winning combination reflecting both the breadth and the richness of the human experience.
When people feel truly seen, accepted, and appreciated for the individual they are, their confidence grows and they develop freedom to move through life in an engaged and inspired way.  One of Tom’s gifts is creating and developing tight-knit, high-trust relationships.  He builds communities through adventures that bring out the best in people while helping them to find confidence on their most inspired path.
Tom draws his passion from a rich background in leadership and education. He has taught in both public and private schools, as well as at the college level, and has significant experience in the field of wilderness therapy, working with at-risk youth, mentoring teens, parent coaching, life coaching, and athletic coaching. He spent years facilitating on challenge courses in addition to building and inspecting them, and training others how to safely get the most out of them. He runs leadership development programs for teens, and develops & facilitates rites of passage. Tom holds a B.S. in Speech Communications and International Relations and a Master’s in Experiential Education,
When he is not facilitating or teaching, Tom spends his time playing on adventures and enriching his life by attending workshops for personal growth, backpacking or hiking with his dogs, skiing, mountaineering, traveling, or taking long, multi-week motorcycle rides, alone or with the best of friends.
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