All-Outdoors…What’s in a Name?

Posted August 15, 2022 by Gregg Armstrong, Co-Founder

Our guests often ask us the question, “Where did the name All-Outdoors come from?” It is a good question and one that deserves to be answered.

The origins

It all began with George Armstrong and Dolores Angeli. They got married in 1949 while attending San Jose State University where George was getting his teaching degree. As the newlyweds planned their future family life together, they realized that educator’s weekends, holidays, and summers would be free. They wanted to do things during the off work days that would be enjoyable, inspiring, and would connect the family together relationally. In a prophetic manner, the two of them began to do outdoor activities like camping, skiing, backpacking, and biking.

Eventually, they had 5 children who joined them recreating in the great outdoors as a family. New activities like rock climbing, kayaking and early rafting trips filled the busy family schedule. They were way before their time because doing such things was not the norm like it is today. George and Dolores were pioneers of outdoor recreation.

Armstrong family trip on the Main Salmon River.

Beyond family trips

The family was having so much fun that friends wanted to join the infamous Armstrong adventures. It was not long before everyone participating realized the power and joy of being outdoors and recreating together. George and Dolores had discovered a means of truly changing and enhancing human lives and relationships. 

This came into play when the principal of the East Bay high school where George was teaching mechanical drawing approached him with a request to design a new class which would help several at-risk students struggling in life and in school. Seeing how outdoor recreational activities had such a positive impact on the lives of his family and friends, George created a class called “Outdoor Conservation and Recreation”. In the classroom students learned about how to appreciate nature, take care of it responsibly, and how to use it for recreation. Field trips were extensions of family trips he and Dolores had been doing for years. Soon all his mechanical drawing classes became Outdoor Conservation and Recreation classes.

George’s high school students on one of his early river trips.

The birth of an adventure company

In an effort to keep the impact of his outdoor recreational classes going even during the summer break, George started a company called “All-Outdoors Adventure in Nature for Youth”. That way his students, as well as other young people he invited, could still participate in healthy outings until fall classes began again. Slowly but surely, the Armstrongs were operating an outdoor company. It was the beginning of something much bigger than George and his family of 7 could ever have imagined.

Once family members of participants saw the positive impact outdoor recreation can have on a person’s life and soul, they wanted to join the trips as well. After several years of leading trips for youth, George’s family began to welcome anyone on their trips and the company name became “All-Outdoors Adventure Trips”.

Focus on whitewater rafting

In those early years, trips varied from backpacking excursions to rock climbing adventures, and from rafting trips in California to bicycling trips in Hawaii. However, fairly soon it became clear that rafting was the biggest draw. People could do most of the other activities on their own, but rafting required specific equipment and knowledge to safely navigate down a whitewater river. As the demand for river trips grew, the Armstrongs decided to focus only on rafting. The name changed for the third time to “All-Outdoors California Whitewater Rafting”.

Many decades have passed, and many changes have taken place but there are several things that remain at the core of what All-Outdoors is all about:

  1. Educate people about the great outdoors
  2. Inspire people to get into the outdoors
  3. Build meaningful relationships while in the outdoors

Yes, our name has a reason and a story behind it. Our purpose and legacy is not to just raise adrenaline levels. We want the outdoors to be a conduit to achieve and promote much higher goals and enhance the quality of life and relationships for everyone that floats with us.

Welcome to the family and All-Outdoors California Whitewater Rafting.

Author Bio

Gregg Armstrong

Gregg is the middle child of George and Dolores Armstrong's five children. He has been working with All-Outdoors since it was founded. He guided and set up early operations on California rivers in the 70's and 80's before making marketing for AO and reservations his main responsibilities. One of his claims to fame is that he and his wife Marion had triplets, who grew up to enjoy rafting and outdoor activities as much as he does. When not doing AO and family life he loves to ski, garden, and spend time with people.


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