Rule One Adventure Foundation is a 501(c)3 charitable organization that provides outdoor adventure experiences for Veterans and First Responders who need assistance with mental health recovery. Rule One provides small group, 3-4 day excursions, with hiking, camping, and anything/everything outdoors, tailored to individuals that they are accommodating.

Rule One’s Mission: To help heal struggling veterans and first responders, and combat the suicide crisis through exposure to the therapeutic nature of the outdoors.

Endstate: To reduce and end suicide amongst Veterans and First Responders.

Why ‘Rule One’?

Rule 1: Always look cool

Rule 2: Always know where you are

Rule 3: If you get lost, go back to Rule 1.

This is something you learn early as a military leader. It’s meant tongue-in-cheek, but there is some truth in it. Looking cool means being relaxed while remaining vigilant. It gives leaders and subordinates confidence and peace of mind.

It also means presenting oneself professionally – both in dress and demeanor - and literally not looking like a bag of ass in either category. Staying calm regardless of the circumstances is not optional, it is a requirement. Remaining calm, and in control of emotions and thought processes, will make or break you. Let the situation develop. The plan may be solid, but once the execution begins, things change, variables enter the equation, and the ability to assess, adapt and overcome is invaluable.

Being uptight and constantly focused on intricate details or minutiae, you lose focus on the mission, the endstate - the whole reason you are doing whatever it is you are doing. If you can calmly remember your task and purpose, you can successfully complete your mission. Look cool, calm and collected.

Why outdoor therapy?

We want to assist Veterans and First Responders in developing new hobbies that challenge and lead them out of their comfort zone. Nature and the outdoors have so much to offer. We want to be a vehicle to introduce our brothers and sisters to the many outdoor activities that could be right in their own backyard. Our adventures are badass, but this is a chance to show our adventurers that this is something that doesn’t require specialized training, technical equipment or a pile of money. It just requires motivation, motivation to get into the outdoors and out of their own heads

We have personally benefited from, and experienced,  the therapeutic effects of the outdoors. As military veterans and law enforcement officers, our time off and getting away to breathe fresh air has given us an even greater respect for nature and allowed us to clear our own minds.

Why all the rules?

The remaining rules help us stay on track and lead a healthy lifestyle. Most of our rules apply to nature but can be brought to everyday life. It’s more like a set of guidelines to keep yourself in mind, a self-assessment to keep you on your toes.

We take mental and physical preparedness very seriously. Getting in the right mindset and staying vigilant enables you to be ready to take on the day. This translates to wearing the right clothes for conditions to, as little as, bringing a pen and paper to a business meeting to take notes.

We believe in conservation, protecting our environment and having respect for nature in all its greatness. Nature is beautiful, but it can kill you. You have to understand it to keep yourself and others alive.

We aren’t all business all the time. It’s also about having fun and keeping a positive attitude. We try not to take ourselves too seriously and enjoy life.

Who are you?

Dave Makowski - co-founder and secretary of Rule One Adventure Foundation. I am a US Army Infantry Officer Veteran and current Colorado State Patrol Trooper. I am responsible for community engagement and organizational development. I also run the Instagram and Facebook pages.

Nick and I grew up adventuring with our Dad. When he wasn’t busting his ass to make a living and provide for us, he was planning another adventure. From Grand Canyon road trips, to Blackwater River camping, we did it all. I started to truly appreciate the outdoors at a young age and it has continued my entire life.

I attended the University of Alabama and commissioned as a 2LT in the United States Army. I attended Airborne and Air Assault school while in school. After commissioning, I attended infantry school and shipped off to Fort Bragg.  Having grown  up in North Carolina, Bragg was the obvious choice for me.

I spent 2012-2016 with 1-505 PIR, 3rd BCT, 82nd ABN at Fort Bragg, North Carolina. In 2013, I graduated Ranger school and in 2015, my unit deployed in support of Operation Inherent Resolve. Lots of training and jumping mixed in throughout my tenure. I also got to marry the most amazing woman in the world in 2013.

After my exit from the Army, I did not know what I wanted. After soul searching for a while, I knew that I wanted to continue to serve. I loved the idea of being in one of my favorite places with nothing but outdoor activities and adventures awaiting. I joined the Colorado State Patrol in 2018.

In 2019 we created Rule One with the idea that we can assist other Veterans and First Responders through outdoor therapy.

My wife, Lauren,  is a Veterinarian and loves the outdoors. Lauren and I currently live in Morrison, Colorado with our 3 dogs.

Nick Makowski - co-founder and President of Rule One Adventure Foundation. Nick is a veteran United States Army Infantry Officer and former Texas State Trooper. Nick is currently going back to college for his EMT certification and a transition to professional firefighting.

Nick graduated from The University it Alabama in 2009 with a BA in Political Science and was commissioned as a 2LT in the Army. After completion of initial training at Ft. Benning, Nick was stationed at Schofield Barracks, assigned to the 2-35 Infantry. Nick served as a rifle platoon leader, company executive officer, and battalion logistics officer. Nick deployed with 2-35 Infantry to Kunar Province, Afghanistan, in 2011-2012.

In 2013, Nick transitioned out of the Army to pursue a career in business. After a brief stint in the corporate world, Nick returned to public service as a Trooper with the Texas Highway Patrol. During his time in the Highway Patrol, Nick functioned in both a patrol capacity and as an operator on the Special Response Team covering all of NE Texas.

Nick felt the pull of the Colorado mountains, and a strong desire to spend more time outdoors, and moved to Colorado in 2019. After leaving law enforcement, Nick continued with his desire to serve others, devoting himself to building Rule One and pursuing a career in the fire service.

Greg Rhodes - co-founder. Greg was born in Colorado Springs, CO.  He grew up in Montgomery Alabama and later attended the University of Alabama for his undergraduate degree.  Upon graduation in 2012 he commissioned into US Army as an Infantry Officer.   He served for eight years with one combat deployment to Afghanistan. After leaving the Army in 2020, Greg was hired by the ProServe National Security Team at Amazon Web Services. Greg is currently working on obtaining his private pilot’s license.

Our inspiration: Phillip Makowski - Our Dad. He was an avid outdoorsman, US Coast Guard Veteran, businessman, and Father. He instilled in us our respect for the outdoors and our drive to serve. Phil passed away from ALS in 2010 and this, how we honor his memory.