So much of the essence of the outdoors community is about possibility.
Even if it can be obscured at times because 'the outdoors' is well-marketed and extensively Instagrammed, the spirit that makes the community tick is the same one that drove, for instance, Polynesian sailors to set off from their small islands into the uncertainty of the Pacific, and John Muir to strike out into the Sierra to "Climb the mountains and get their good tidings". Even if the globe's been Google-mapped, and most explorations are recreational nowadays, adventure is done in the interest of figuring out what life, and the natural world, might have to offer that we haven't yet discovered, either individually or collectively.
That sense of possibility is, we hope, what Boldly Went is cultivating and sharing with you all, because it's definitely what you are sharing with us.
The spirit of individual and human possibility is right at the heart of our original outdoor love - trail and ultra running - but since starting this project we keep hearing about it from different angles. This week's podcast, recorded in Calgary, features Michelle Landry, who as a young single woman set out into the Himalaya on a trek that went sideways, but ultimately morphed into an incredible experience of parts of the world she didn't anticipate visiting. And Felipe Civita, who biked the entire Baja Peninsula in search of someone he never found. We hope their experiences will give someone out there a nudge towards doing something they didn't realize was possible.
I have to admit that this idea of possibilities - and the idea that Boldly Went wants to cultivate the explorer's spirit in all of us - is personal. While our hearts have traditionally been in the mountains, since starting this project a couple of months ago Angel and I seem to keep coming across people whose passions are on the water. It started at our first event, where the winner of our first useless, meaningless prize for best story was a sailor, has continued through multiple great connections in the SUP boarding community, and hit a high point at our most recent event in Tacoma, where one of the crowd-favorite storytellers was Ken Campbell, author of Around the Rock - A Newfoundland Sea Kayak Journey , and director of The Ikkatsu Project. Ken's an inspiring guy, and also the subject of an award winning film called Message in a Plastic Bottle, about the time in 2014 when he built a kayak out of discarded plastic bottles and paddled it from Olympia to Bellingham, WA to raise awareness about the importance and fragility of Puget Sound. Sounds crazy, but that's possible. You'll hear his story in a couple of weeks.
A few months ago all these water people got us thinking about our own possibilities, and loose existing plans for an East Coast trip morphed into an idea for what will be, for a couple of novice kayakers, an epic river journey. So in a couple of weeks we're going to pack up the folding Oru Kayaks we invested in recently, hop on a plane and spend a couple weeks paddling the Lower Hudson from Albany to NYC. Along the way we're hoping to connect with folks, collect some local stories, and stoke the spirit of exploration in an area of the country we've never visited before, doing an activity that is relatively new to us. For us, it's a direct impact of the Boldly Went community that we're giving this thing a shot, and it's just the kind of inspiration for adventure that we hope develops for other people through this project as well.
In the meantime - there are more great things happening soon:
Our second Seattle storytelling event is next week, on Tuesday, May 2 at Naked City Brewery. Prep your stories and buy tickets here!
And we're excited to announce that tickets will be on sale soon for our first Portland event on Monday, June 12th, and our second Bend event on Thursday, June 15th!
We have also reached a point of being able to soft-open our Adventurer Next Door network - we already have some opportunities posted for folks in or visiting the Seattle area to sign up for local adventures with us, and we're inviting you to send us your CV (or, you know, just send us an email) if you or someone you know are interested in making money by taking like-minded people on some of your own favorite adventures in your area!
This week's podcast featured Alana Schick from Calgary, Canada who shared her story of getting stuck in a tent for 40 hours when she was caught in a huge snowstorm while crossing the Lillooet Icefield near Pemberton in British Columbia, Canada.
Alana told her story impeccably, and her adventure carried a high gnar factor. Stories aren't judged based on sexiness, but if they were, Alana nailed that too. When I was preparing the podcast for release, I asked Alana if she could share a photo or two with me that I could use for promotion on social media. What she sent in return is this series of photos that give us new perspective to her daring adventure.
If you haven't listened to this week's podcast yet, hop over here. Be sure to subscribe because we have some really good stories coming up from all different types of adventurers that you don't want to miss.
Top, left to right: Alana and partner; Storm rolling in; Tent buried in snow during storm.
Bottom, left to right: Approach to food; Flagged food cache-look closely to see the flag peaking out in the lower right hand corner!); Dug out food cache.
Tacoma adventurers impressed us with their masterful storytelling about surfing, kayaking, SUP boarding, ultra running, and snowshoeing. This is more evidence confirming what we've been thinking all along--adventurers of all types, in all locations have inspiring stories to share. We know we're not the only ones who are getting inspired. Here's a napkin note given to us at the end of the event, and it warms our cold feet right up.
Dean Burke lives in Tacoma, Washington, and loves it. He's a hardcore paddleboarder with maps of the local waterways on his refrigerator, and the Executive Director at Tacoma South Sound Sports Commission. He's also a sought-after storyteller who's been a TEDx speaker and coach, and he's been an early adopter here at Boldly Went. (Check out his compelling TEDx presentation on "Tacoma and the Sea" here for a sense of who he is and what he's about.)
We don't know anyone better to help adventurers take their favorite experiences outdoors and turn them into stories that can be presented publicly in an effective, compelling way. We asked him to share some of his best tips, so he sat down with us and offered the most important basics in this 5 minute video.
Write it out. Divide it up. Distill it down. Blow people away.
Storytelling is the art of bringing other people into your own experience, and like all art it comes more naturally to some than to others. And anyone with a good story can speak at our live events. But the fundamentals that Dean offers here provide a simple process that allows anyone to quickly become more competent, and feel more confident, doing it in front of a crowd:
1) Start by writing out your story on a piece of paper, start to finish.
2) Divide your story into it's natural "chapters" - note natural transition points, or topic shifts: for example the shift between when you fell off the rock and then had to make a plan. Or the shift between sleeping calmly and being woken by the bear.
3) Physically draw a line there on your paper. A tip Dean told us: refine each "chapter" individually - tell each part of the story as well as you can.
4) Consider whether your story will have more impact if you shift "chapters" around. What do you want people to see and feel first? How do you build tension towards the climax of your story? What do you want at the finish so the story resonates after you're done? Get creative. Shift chapters around if you see fit.
5) In order to feel confident when you're telling the story, distill each "chapter" to a one word "waypoint" that you can memorize, max 5 words, so if you get lost in front of the crowd, you'll remember where you're going. (We allow notecards, so feel free to write them down if you want!)
6) Practice! Out loud, not just in your head. And in front of another person. The more the better.
6) Blow the crowd away with your amazing adventure story.