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If the buttoned-up, boardroom lifestyle of an in-house lawyer seems worlds away from the great outdoors, consider this month’s GCs, who bring the same energy, focus and skill to their outdoor adventures that they do to their careers. On weekends and vacations, this group eschews the office for such heart-pumping pastimes as hiking, camping, water-skiing and cycling. But the trick to enjoying stints in nature, they say, is to combine it with time with their families. Whether it’s bunking with the kids during “family camp” or trekking around national parks, outdoor settings, remarks GC Ronald Gern, “help you get rid of the distractions and really enjoy each other.” RONALD GERN Senior vice president and general counsel, General Growth Properties Inc. The legal department: It’s a mall world for Gern, who heads an 18-lawyer team at the Chicago-based company, which is the second-largest U.S. shopping mall owner and operator, with 141 developments in 39 states. Outdoor adventures: Sleepaway camp may sound like an unlikely pastime for a 43-year-old corporate lawyer, but Gern swears by it as a way of reconnecting with his three kids, ages 4 to 13: Every August, after the regular campers have cleared out of Wisconsin’s lakeside Camp Marimeta, the Gern brigade bunks together for a weeklong “family camp” session, where activities range from hiking to water-skiing. “There’s nothing like learning to water-ski on 43-year-old legs,” jokes Gern, who says his spills make him the target of ribbing from his two oldest sons. At home in Glencoe, Ill., the Gerns bike en masse to the botanic gardens — or, on lazy Sunday mornings, to the world-famous Walker Bros. Original Pancake House, “where we work off breakfast on the bike ride home.” But their favorite outdoor tradition by far is summer camping on the beach, when “almost the whole town of Glencoe turns out” for an annual, sandy sleepover on the shores of Lake Michigan. How do you know when you’re too close to nature? “When you’re out in the woods, away from it all, and suddenly the rain showers start.” ELIZABETH FAYAD General counsel, National Parks Conservation Association The legal department: The Washington, D.C.-based organization, established in 1919, is devoted to protecting the country’s national parks system. Outdoor adventures: Work and play intermingle for Fayad when her family — including two teen-agers — vacations in the country’s national parks. Favorite spots include California’s Yellowstone and Colorado’s Black Canyon of the Gunnison, but her most memorable excursion was last year’s cross-state road trip in New Mexico: “We went with a Navajo guide through the Canyon de Chelly, walking in our bare feet, since the floor of the canyon was flooded — it was very spiritual,” Fayad recalls. She’s also had some high-adrenaline moments in the outdoors, including a jaw-dropping hike in Arizona’s Grand Canyon, and a hairy encounter with a grizzly bear, her cubs and a pack of wolves while Fayad and her husband were on horseback in Yellowstone. “Luckily it all ended peacefully,” Fayad says. “The wolves had already had their dinner.” How do you know when you’re too close to nature? “When you get scratched, sunburned or bitten!” says Fayad, who has had plenty of experience with all three during numerous treks through national parks. GEORGE HERZ II Senior vice president and general counsel, Uno Restaurant Corp. The legal department: Boston-based Uno operates 115 company-owned and 73 franchise restaurants across the United States. The 7,000-employee company — which went private last year — slimmed its legal team from four to two in October 2001. Outdoor adventures: With two teen-age Eagle Scout sons, Herz — himself a former scoutmaster — is a self-proclaimed “extreme camper.” Last summer, Herz helped the boys prep for “high-adventure camp” by trekking 13 miles a day in the West Point area of New York state, where they faced dramatic temperature shifts. Yet the group’s most perilous camping experience came on the Appalachian Trail, when a bear entered the camp and helped himself to the family’s provisions. “He wandered into camp, sat down by a tree, and dug out these packets of dried cappuccino — we’re 15 feet from the bear, making breakfast and he’s ripping the tops off these coffee packets, eating away.” How do you know when you’re too close to nature? “I’m drawn to the idea of ‘tree-camping’ in the Redwoods in California — you actually sleep up in the boughs of the tree — but then what happens if you roll over at night?”

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