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Omaha Magazine

Way, Way Offshore

Feb 13, 2019 11:35AM ● By Tamsen Butler

Kristen Macdissi knows it isn’t easy being a thalassophile (a lover of the sea) in a state that “doesn’t coast.” It’s not the least of her afflictions, though.

Macdissi’s love for mountains compelled her to move from her hometown in upstate New York to Colorado as a young adult. “I was skiing before I walked,” she admits. “I’m drawn to mountains and waves.”

“My family bred adventure into me,” she says, adding that they spent a great deal of time outdoors as a child, going camping, riding horses, playing outside, boating, and sailing. “Adventure and the outdoors go hand in hand. ‘Adventure’ is different from ‘thrilling.’ Adventure can just mean being outside in silence.”

While living in Colorado, she mulled over her options. Should she go to law school or pursue her master’s degree? As it turned out, Nebraska—with its complete absence of ocean and mountains—was calling out to her. The University of Nebraska Medical Center offered an administration position that also allowed her to pursue a master’s in political science at UNO. 

Soon, Macdissi realized the Omaha area had a lot to offer—and that many residents don’t even realize it. “Omaha’s a good area with many opportunities,” she says. “There’s good camping and good trails.” While impossible to summon ocean and mountains in Omaha, she quickly found plenty of outdoor adventures available locally. It’s part of the reason why she and her husband started offering outfitter services at Lake Cunningham.

Neighborhood Offshore, Macdissi’s board shop and boutique resulted from the evolution of the outfitter services. “We started as an entirely mobile service, an experienced-based outfitter specializing in stand-up paddleboard,” Macdissi says. She then moved on to offering retail items online, but it wasn’t quite enough for customers who were eager to pursue more outdoor adventures. A shop at Lake Cunningham soon followed, but it wasn’t long before Neighborhood Offshore needed a bigger space to fulfill her vision of a board shop offering retail, meditation sessions, surfing classes, and more.

She wanted a place locals and visitors alike could rely on for guidance about outdoor adventures in the Omaha and surrounding area. Neighborhood Offshore frequently receives calls from people visiting Omaha who want to find an outdoor adventure but are at a loss as to where to turn. “I’m happy to field calls about what to do in Omaha,” she says. She’s figured out where adventure lies in the state and she is eager to share.

A GoPro Mountain Games competitor in 2017 and 2018 (racing down rapids in Colorado’s Gore Creek with the down-river stand-up paddleboard sprint), Macdissi leads by example with her kids so they can enjoy adventures together, much like when she was growing up. “It’s important for our kids to see this is normal,” she says. “We have to normalize being outside so we can create future outdoor stewards. If we make the outdoors fun, they will be more likely to respect and protect nature in the future.” Her 8-year-old daughter recently tried out whitewater stand-up paddleboard and her 4-year-old surfs. “Surfing takes time and patience. It takes waiting,” says the proud mother. 

Board sports also require problem-solving and persistence, Macdissi says. Perhaps that’s why she was able to persistently and patiently discover the adventures here in Omaha.

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For more information about retreats with the company, read Omaha Magazine's travelogue: "Costa Rican Surf Retreat with Omaha’s Neighborhood Offshore"

This article was printed in the March/April edition of Omaha Magazine. To receive the magazine, click here to subscribe.

Kristen Macdissi with paddleboard