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Nature guiding – Discovering wellness in the woods

By Melissa Wagoner

Autumn Kuenzi has battled depression and anxiety her entire life, but when her first child was born eight years ago, that battle raged at a whole new level. 

“I got postpartum depression and anxiety,” Kuenzi recalled. “And I just couldn’t sit with it. So, I made the decision to take control of it.”

Which meant, along with seeking professional help, Kuenzi also went back to her roots and reexamined what brought her joy during childhood. 

Life coach Autumn Kuenzi holding a nature session with kids.         Submitted Photo.
Life coach Autumn Kuenzi holding a nature session with kids. Submitted Photo.

“I grew up in Detroit and so I was raised around the mountains,” Kuenzi said, recalling long, idyllic days spent moving her body outside. “But I lost touch with [the outdoors] when I was a teenager and in my early twenties.”

Intrigued, Kuenzi decided to hit the trails, first with one child and then with two. 

“It was something I could plan, something to consume my mind,” Kuenzi said. “I did a couple of hikes a month.”

Things were going well until, in September 2020, Kuenzi’s childhood home in Detroit burned to the ground.

“My whole world burned,” Kuenzi stated, “my wilderness, my family home. And I thought, I can either let this break me or make me stronger, but I need to make something beautiful because that’s how fires work.”

Uncertain where to begin, Kuenzi approached the therapist she had been seeing for ideas.

“She said, I could see you as a life coach,” Kuenzi said. “And so, from there I played around with the idea and thought, how can I make this more me?”

The answer, she eventually decided, was to become a certified Nature Guide and Wellness Coach, combining both her belief in the healing power of nature and the intrinsic strengths her therapist alluded to. 

“I want to work with moms and other women who are struggling,” Kuenzi said of her target audience, which quickly grew to include kids as well.

Autumn Kuenzi
Autumn Kuenzi

Coined, “Take Care with Autumn,” Kuenzi’s venture offers both life and wellness coaching, nature activities for adults and kids and hiking opportunities for individuals and groups on an ongoing basis. Then, each summer, she kicks things up a notch with the addition of day camps and, this summer, her first ever Pack Event for moms who would like to explore child carriers, backpacks and stroller options. 

“My friend came up with it because she’s had like five carriers,” Kuenzi said, describing the event, which will be held June 22 from 10 a.m. to noon at Coolidge -McClaine Park in Silverton. 

“I would also like to share tips on where you can go and what to take,” Keunzi said. And I was thinking it might be a good way for new moms to find their hiking buddy.”

Because, along with the fresh air and exercise hiking provides, it can also be an avenue for the creation of friendships, a benefit Kuenzi has recognized through her own membership in the organization, Women Who Explore. 

“It’s an amazing way to meet moms,” she pointed out. “You’re putting yourself out there with support. You don’t feel as vulnerable so you can make those connections. It’s a good way to realize you’re not alone.”

Take Care with Autumn

Life and wellness coaching, adult and child nature sessions and individual and group hiking coordination. takecarewithautumn.com 

Pack Event: a free exploration of baby carriers and backpacks, June 22, 10 a.m. to noon, Coolidge-McClaine Park, Silverton

July Summer Camp: nature activities and yoga, July 10-14,
9 a.m. to 12:30 p.m., Smith Creek Village, Silver Falls State Park, ages 5-12, tuition $100

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