Staff & Guides
Ari says - Avanim Adventures’ creation story begins with my great grandmother who used to bring my father up to the mountains above Denver when he was little. My father got older and became an Outward Bound instructor before starting his own wilderness outfitter focused on working with juvenile delinquents. From skiing to backpacking to rock climbing both my mother and father instilled in me a love and sensitivity for the wilderness from infancy.
One fine day in 2011, at my house on the west side of Denver (coincidentally not far from where my great grandmother lived many decades before), my wife and I were hosting a father and son for shabbos lunch and it hit me like a branch in the face that the wilderness would be a great place for Jewish fathers and sons to explore their relationships. Hence the name Avanim Adventures (Avos and Banim).
A couple months later over shots of tequila in Boulder, Rabbi Elie Ganz explained to me that I was marketing to a niche of a niche of a niche and I should open it up to all Jews. He was right and since 2011 both in partnership and individually Elie and I have had the distinct pleasure of facilitating many wilderness trips for Jews from all over the world.
Ari Hoffman, MA LPC, WFR
Head Wilderness Guide and Owner
I am a seeker and a facilitator. As a therapist and wilderness guide for over a decade (therapist – 11 years; wilderness guide – 18 years) I use both positions to pursue my passion for facilitating bravery and exploration.
Over and over people who come on Avanim Adventures wilderness trips give me feedback like, “this is the stuff dreams are made of”, “I’ll never forget this trip as long as I live”, “I didn’t think I could do this and I’m so proud of how hard I’ve worked” or “I was scared at first but I discovered that wilderness has so much value for me”. When I hear these comments I know that I have facilitated someone pushing their edge, discovering their bravery, and exploring more of the beauty of themselves and the wilderness. That is a big part of what makes my world turn.
Being a therapist and wilderness guide is also about exploring my own bravery and beauty. I appreciate the challenges of being the best wilderness guide and therapist I can be and I always learn from every trip and every session.
The other big part of what makes my world turn is my family. My wife Miriam, my three children, and I live in Denver, Colorado and can be found wrestling, snowshoeing, rock climbing, or arguing about homework and the dishes.
As far as certs go, I have an active Wilderness First Responder certification through the Wilderness Medicine Institute and I am a licensed therapist in Colorado. You can check out my therapy website here.
Nature enthusiast, wife and mother
Has been living CO for the past 20 years. She graduated Prescott College with a BA in Wilderness Leadership spring of 1999. In the summer of 2006, Rivkah, her husband and family joined the Aish Denver Jewish community where they still reside. Current interests and passions include reintroducing ourselves to ourselves through inner and outer wilderness exploration.
Elie Ganz WFR
Wilderness Guide and Rabbinical Consultation
Elie Ganz was born and raised in Scranton, P.A. where he spent much time exploring the beautiful Pennsylvania backcountry on foot and horseback.
After returning from a post-high school stint studying in Israel, Elie took his first position as an educator, in a high school in Baltimore before his 21st birthday. Two years later he returned to yeshiva to pursue his rabbinic ordination. He has since taught Judaic Studies to high school students in various institutions including the Ramaz Upper School in Manhattan.
In addition to his s'micha, Elie holds certifications as a teacher from the New Teacher Center of the University of California, a frontal-line therapy and behavioral modification counselor, and an IWLS wilderness instructor.
Elie is a certified Wilderness First Responder