Meet Our Alumni

This is the Groundswell

Our mission at OG is to create a generation of ethical backpackers, each working to better the world in their unique way.  Community is at the heart of what we do, and we know that by banding together we can be greater than ourselves.  This is a taste of what our alumni have accomplished.

If you’re interested in learning more about our alumni initiatives and get involved, reach out to us!


Operation Mentorship, or OMent, connects OG’s fresh faces with seasoned backpacktivist volunteers.  Our OMentors provide guidance, support, and plenty of advice on topics such as what to pack, where to go, and how to find the best chapati. Get in touch to become a mentor.

OG Alumni Network

This is our way to keep in touch after we return and when we catch the post-backpacking blues! It is a place for us to continue to inspire each other, to build relationships with rad backpacktivists across the world, to get informed of magical job and volunteer opportunities, and to support each other’s dreams and ideas! Request access.

OG Homes

You’ve come back from your program and you’re all settled in. Now what? Time to head back out again! OG Homes connects us with beds, couches, and (clean) floors across the world, hosted exclusively by OG alumni.  With each other’s help we can continue to travel in a meaningful way and learn from locals wherever we find ourselves (mis)adventuring. Ask about getting involved.

Alumni by the Numbers


Backpacktivist Alumni




Dollars Awarded by the Alumni Project Fund


Luft Balloons

Meet Our Alumni Action Team

Allyson Fuller

Otherwise known as ‘Awkward Ally’, this small-town girl grew up dreaming of helping others and making a positive impact on the world. But first, she had to learn how! After finishing her degree in science, she decided it was finally time to travel and had the opportunity to join the Peru: Mind and Body program with OG. Upon coming home, she was inspired to help others experience volunteer travel by offering fundraising assistance and leading volunteer trips in Ecuador. Allyson now enjoys living and working on a hobby farm, helping her father sell lumber, and working as OG’s Alumni Coordinator to help backpacktivists keep their own momentum going!

Emmy Swisher

Emmy Swisher

When she’s not making sarcastic jokes, Emmy is busy filling her life to the brim. As this is something dear to her heart, after going to Guatemala with Operation Groundswell in the summer of 2013, she knew this was a match made in heaven. A barista/transcriber/student in Colorado with a bad case of FOMO, she’s excited to continue her relationship with OG and help them change the world.

Chris Karnopp

Chris Karnopp

I’m Chris Karnopp from Southern California & the LS Amazon Adventure program in Peru. I’m a Kinesiology graduate and hopefully a future Physician’s Assistant. I’m taking time off of school to do more international volunteer work and to travel a bit. I enjoy short walks on the sidewalk, hearing life stories, music, physical activities, the cosmos, quirky people, not being embarrassed and being a nice person to mean people.

Siobhan Takala

Siobhan Takala

Siobhan ran away on an adventure and never really came home. If you find her, it’s probably near the ocean (or in a forest)(or making pickles), surrounded by rad people, and daydreaming instead of studying. She is working on a degree in Sustainability and Environmental Science while constantly reminding people that it’s cool to be a feminist because equality is also cool.

Sarah Hain

Sarah Hain

Meet Sarah. This adventure monger began her journey with Operation Groundswell via the Alternative Reading Week program in Guatemala. Inspired by beautiful landscapes, the rich culture and history of Guatemala, and lessons learned from OG, that one week quickly turned into a life-changing, six-month escapade when she decided to forgo her return flight home. Originally from Kitchener, ON, Sarah currently resides in Nanaimo, BC where she is doing her Masters in Sustainable Leisure Management in hopes building a career out of her appetite for adventure, travel, and tourism.

Rebecca Hirsz

Rebecca Hirsz

Rebecca started her journey with in 2011 traveling to Peru and again in 2014 to Southeast Asia. Her experience changed her perspective on backpacking and travel and is now studying at Ryerson University to be a Child and Youth Counsellor. When she isn’t thinking about travel or her studies, Rebecca loves to spend her time outdoors exploring nature, reading, watching movies and TV, doing yoga, and, of course, eating!



Our Next Member

Do you have what it takes to push our movement forward? Follow along on Facebook, join us at our brainstorm sessions, pitch us your ideas, and your name could be here next!

If Not Now, Then When?

Join our growing community of ethical travelers and explore our world in a genuine and meaningful way.