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Gil's passion for paddling rivers was one impetus for him founding Pacesetters, as he believed that all kids should have access to the outdoors, even if they couldn't afford to pay an outfitter.

In the 18 years since Pacesetters was granted the Adventure Center by Cherokee county, countless volunteers have aided in its development and have created the beautiful campus which exists today.

Pacesetters was founded by Gil Hargett on March 5, 1996 to fill the niche of adventure education services for adjudicated youth in the area.  From the beginning, Pacesetters was lauded as a valuable and effective service and focused itself on pushing student’s comfort zones through high adventure activities like rafting, rock climbing, caving, backpacking, and hiking.  


Over time, Pacesetters acquired more resources and diversified its programming to further enhance its services.  In 2000, Pacesetters was granted a 15-year lease for 24 acres of land along the Valley River in Marble, NC.  This property, called The Adventure Center, has since expanded to include 44 acres and is now home to an Alpine Tower high ropes element, rock climbing wall, giant swing, low ropes challenge course, driving range, 4 student cabins, one student bath house, a multi-purpose building, and an office.  


More than 12,000 students have now pushed their limits on Pacesetters’ Alpine Tower and many more will in the years to come.  Over the years, Pacesetters has worked with adjudicated and at risk youth primarily, but has also served student and adult groups from all over the region.  


Our programs have included high adventure activities, but have also focused on interpersonal skill development, environmental education, and teambuilding in an effort to promote character development in every participant.


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