By Amber Thompson, Market Leader, Keystone – Texas
Reaching the Highest Peak Is What Drives Us, But Reaching It Together Is What Matters
We would like to cordially invite you to be a part of the APEX challenge. Our focus over the past year has been on building leaders and transforming the way we serve our staff and residents. How do we create strong relationships within our IDT that are built on trust, accountability and love for one another? Performing physical challenges together as a team will create bonds between people that last a lifetime. The post COVID world has been a struggle for a lot of our operations. Employees are tired, some feel hopeless and some are lost in a spiral and can’t find their footing.

As a market, the team decided to change our name in January 2022 to APEX. The context behind this was…how will we inspire our teams to get to the top of the mountain even when we are tired and feel as if we have no more to give? We are struggling with agency usage, retention, lower reimbursement rates and the cluster rigor. The market has refocused and recommitted to growing leaders and inspiring their teams to turn their visions into reality.

On April 22, 2022 a team of our leaders rented a passenger van and drove 8hrs to Guadalupe Peak National Park. Guadalupe Peak is a rewarding, although strenuous, 8.5 mile round trip hike with a 3,000 foot elevation gain. It took a total of 8 hours to complete and was much more difficult than we anticipated. The following day we piled back up into the van and drove 8 hours back to New Braunfels. Squeezing into a passenger van after completing a grueling hike seems like it would be horrible but it was one of the best rides ever! We had fun blasting music, reminiscing about the death march we completed and just bonding in general.

This trip was one of the most amazing and transformational experiences I have ever had. Each of us came with a set of strengths and weaknesses and a varying ability to hike the course. We had some that could have run up the mountain (well, maybe just one clinical resource), some who walked at decent pace and some who had a very difficult time making it to the summit. The part that inspired me the most was how everyone helped each other out. We had stronger hikers in the back helping the ones who were struggling a bit. We had hikers leading the pack to encourage everyone to keep going and letting them know it was possible to make it to the top. Not one team member was left behind. The bonds and true friendships that were built that day are irreplaceable.

This experience can be tied to all of our goals as a market. The stronger operations help the struggling operations. The struggling operations are not scared to admit they are struggling and reach out to ask others for help. They are able to do this because they have relationships with each other that are built on trust. Every leader knows they will not be left behind. An activity we have decided to do as a market involves climbing peaks/hiking trails in Texas as a team. In essence, each climb is designed to challenge personal growth and ultimately help transform the way we serve our staff and residents.

Our question to you is…. What will your market’s challenge be? What “mountain” will you climb? If you come to TX and hike Guadalupe Peak, we will send you a medal. If you would like, we will come hike it with you!

If every market creates a challenge and a medal for those who complete it, we can motivate the clusters and teams to seek the medals together. Every adventure trip is priceless time with your team members having fun and hyper-focused to accomplish something extremely difficult. When they come back they are never the same again—what could this do for your buildings? Unity, loyalty, humility, perseverance, sacrifice…the list is endless in applications. Remember…the joy is in the journey!


  1. Pick your challenge (it has to be physical) and create excitement around it
  2. Create a medal
  3. Send pics of your challenge
  4. Update us on how your team responded (did this strengthen relationships? Etc)
    Move those mountains!! Conquer your challenges!! Build your teams!!
    CONTEST: Teams who submit a picture and a summary of how this impacted your team will be put into a raffle to win a prize!!