Jaime Bengston – Ladies Offroad Challenge Featured Entry
Featured Ladies Ladies Offroad Challenge Entries

Jaime Bengston – Ladies Offroad Challenge Featured Entry

Jaime Bengston
Rio Rancho, NM
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Selected for 2017 Ladies Offroad Challenge Top 10
"Jaime started offroading when she was 18 in an 'ol Bronco, and more recently, she was reintroduced when buying her first Jeep. The week after purchasing they joined the New Mexico Jeep Group and within 6 months helped launch the Ladies Chapter. She is a police wife of 17 years, a mother of 4, a student of ASL interpretation, and a CrossFit Trainer and inspirationalist. The family loves escaping to the mountains to get off the grid and reset."
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Tell us about yourself:

I am a New Mexico police wife of 17 years and the mother of 4 children (3 girls and 1 boy). I was a stay-at-home mom for a little over 14 years. I re-entered the workforce as a CrossFit Trainer and a CrossFit Box Manager for 3 years, up until the owner closed the doors. During that time, I focused on creating a family friendly, safe environment, focusing largely on kids and teens. The adults I enjoyed working with most were my mamas. They came in typically looking to lose weight, but ultimately ending up finding they just want to be healthy and discovered that being strong is amazing. I taught from the belief that when you are pushed outside your comfort zone and discover you can fight through mental demons, you change the way you approach your entire life. A ‘simple’ accomplishment in the gym could turn into a life changer outside of the gym, building confidence and self-trust.

Shortly before the CrossFit Box closed, we purchased our first Jeep. The next week, we joined the New Mexico Jeep Group, within 6 months I helped launch NMJG Ladies Chapter with the full support of the NMJG President, Fred, and my best friend Jasmine at my side. My focus as the president of the NMJGL is to help ladies build their confidence on and off the trails, and at the same time building a community of support where ladies always know they have a crew at their back. I am also a full-time student at Santa Fe Community College. I am currently working on my degree in American Sign Language with a minor in Interpretation. My goal is to become an interpreter for the deaf/hard of hearing children and teens in my community. I have been signing most of my life because my childhood best friends (who were both deaf) took time to teach me their language. After all these years, I am finally working on my degree so I can use my skills in the professional setting. I am also a volunteer teacher. I use music to teach sign language to kids. My whole family signs to some degree, even my dogs are trained in sign language! I love escaping to the mountains with my family, especially my kiddos. We have our favorite spots that we go to just to have fun and be together as a family. It sounds crazy, but all of my kids love being ‘off grid’, even my teens! When we are up in the mountains together we get to laugh and play without the interruptions or distractions of everyday life. Its an awesome reset button for us.

 

How long have you been offroading and how did you get into it? 

I began off-roading when I was about 18. I met a group of guys that all had Broncos. I had just moved to New Mexico from New York and I was busy doing everything I could to avoid getting back into heavy partying. Going into the mountains and off-roading worked to keep me occupied. It also gave me a group of guys who, though they didn’t completely understand what I was going through, gave me encouragement and support while teaching me about Broncos. We explored Mt Taylor in Cibola County, NM. It was pretty basic stuff with no major obstacles. After my first daughter was born a car accident totaled my car, and I made the decision to buy my own Bronco. I started wheeling more. I would go mudding when my daughter was with me, she loved it. When my second daughter was born we still explored the mountains, but kept things calm. When my son was born I had to sell my Bronco and stopped wheeling. Fast forward 11 years to when I found my Jeep. Most Saturdays, on my way to work I would see a group of Jeeps gathered at the Starbucks. So after we purchased the Jeep I immediately started searching online for Jeep groups and clubs, until I found the New Mexico Jeep Group. Long story short, they showed me what a Jeep can really do. I continued to go out wheeling with the guys and I was determined to complete all the obstacles they did. It was terrifying but exhilarating. I noticed that I was one of the few women driving, sometimes even the only woman! I felt that we needed to change that, and that’s when the Ladies Chapter was born. Since then I have been wheeling everything from stock friendly routes to crazy scouting runs.

 

Tell us about your vehicle:

Mama’s Monarch is a 2012 Jeep Wrangler Sahara, Orange Crush with purple accents, automatic transmission. She has a 3.5 MetalCloak dual rate long arm, ARB Addition lift, Yukon 4.56 gears, Smittybilt SRC front and rear bumpers and tire carrier, Classic SRC rock sliders, Bulldog winch 8k with wire line, and some aftermarket light pods.

 

What has been your favorite offroad experience?

I have a few that come to mind. I led 21 rigs on a stock friendly trail a few months back. In this group i had a large number of brand new drivers, many were women in stock rigs who had never driven off pavement. The trail was long but fun. The ladies did AMAZING. I talked them through some of the areas as I approached them, and we had spotters staged in the more complicated areas. Watching them accomplish this was amazing. When we stopped for lunch I listened to them chat with each other about what they were able to accomplish so far. The ladies were so proud of their rigs and themselves. This was a group of ladies taking their fears and throwing them out the window. They took on the obstacles like pros! I am so proud thinking of how much these women overcame, I know what it takes. It was one of the best experiences I have been part of.

 

What was your most exciting offroad achievement?

I was out on a scouting trip with Fred, the head of NMJG, and one of the other members, Joe. We chose to scout an area that hadn’t been explored in years. We knew there was a chance we would come across some sketchy obstacles, but we didn’t think the trip would prove too difficult. We were wrong. Fred has a rig that is build to take on Moab easily, and had multiple times. I, on the other hand, only have basic modifications on my rig, nothing over the top or extraordinary. The further we got into the trail the more interesting these obstacles became. As I watched Fred tackle the obstacles in front of me I could literally see his rig flex, stretch, and move in ways that I knew I couldn’t make my rig. There were even a few times watching him that I would put my rig in park, cross my arms, and think, ‘no way’! I honestly wasn’t sure I was going to make it to the other side of a few of those without trashing my rig, but Fred showed me the line he wanted me to take and then would spot me through it. It was AMAZING! It was so nerve-wracking, but completely rewarding! My rig made it, I made it, and I think I grinned like an idiot for a few days after!

 

What excites you about offroading?

The adventure of exploring. I love that feeling of leaving the paved road, and turning onto a trail for the first time. The feeling of not really knowing what’s in front of me or what kind of obstacles I am going to meet. I love exploring areas that most other people will never see because they don’t have vehicles capable of getting them there. I love being able to get out of the city and reconnect with nature. No cell service, no distractions, just time with my family and the other people I’m wheeling with. I absolutely love going off grid and being able to enjoy the beauty of the trees and the scenery of the landscape. As much as I love having control in my life, I love the unknown of exploring in my Jeep.

 

What do you think is the most challenging aspect of offroading?

Finding the money to keep modifying my rig? Haha. On a more serious note, there is always something new to learn. Every run there is something new that I must learn in order to be successful. I learn new ways to maneuver my rig around obstacles. Then there is always work to be done on the actual rig, modifications, repairs, upgrades, normal maintenance. I have to take it in, learn, understand and work with it. I am still learning the mechanics of it, and as much as I enjoy it, I still have a long road of learning ahead of me. And let’s be real, it is a challenge to keep up with some of these rigs financially. Talk about an expensive hobby!

 

Which aspect of offroading do you think is the most fun?

I love the community and the people in it. I am always meeting new people, either through the group or just out on the trails. Talking to them about their experiences, lives, and rigs is so exciting. There’s nothing quite like the bonding experience you have while wheeling with someone; celebrating together as you overcome tough obstacles, supporting each other when something breaks, laughing when someone does something stupid, all of it! A lot of times people come out to the trails to get away from everyday life, sometimes it’s to celebrate, and sometimes it’s to get away from something really crappy back home. I think it’s awesome to be a part of all those things. They chose to be around like minded people and share their journey, how awesome is that!

 

What does prepping for an adventure look like in your world?

My rig stays pretty prepped. I am a firm believer of keeping it stocked and ready. She’s also my daily driver and I’m a mom so you can imagine the stuff I carry with me. I make sure that I have maps ready for the area we are going; I use a digital map system when I am on trails so I can track where I have been and drop waypoints of spots I want to mark. I also have at least one of my four children with me , so I make sure to have enough food, water, and supplies for them. Once the rig is ready, we go!

 

What is on your offroading bucket list?

I don’t really have a specific list. I just want to explore with my family.

 

Tell us about who you go offroading with:

Everyone! I almost always have at least one of my kids with me. I primarily wheel with NMJG and our members, friends, and whoever might want to tag along.

 

What is a piece of advice you have been given that you instill in your offroading adventures?

Attitude is everything. How you approach the trail, your rig, other people, etc. will change your experience on the trail and off-roading in general. I tell my ladies that I would rather wheel with a green, open minded driver than someone who is cocky or has a bad attitude. We might not do anything super adventurous, but it is more important to have fun.

 

Do you have anything else you would like to add?

I want to say thank you to the members of NMJG and especially the Ladies’ Chapter. Thank you for allowing me, and trusting me to lead you on trails and to help you. Being there for you to support you as a friend means the world to me. I would have never even considered applying for the Ladies Offroad Network Challenge if it is wasn’t for you and all of your support! Thank you for being there for me when I needed you, many of you have become like family to me. I can’t imagine my life without you!And thank you to my husband and kiddos - always supporting me in these crazy ideas and adventures. I love you!

 

Click here to see all the 2017 Ladies Offroad Challenge Entries.

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