Archive by Category "Adventure travel"

The Venture Out Project

Interview with The Venture Out Project

The Venture Out Project 

Recently I found out about an amazing organization called The Venture Out Project. I was so inspired by what they do I asked if I could interview them to share their story with our readers here at DNK Presents and Live Adventurously. Being in the LGBTQ+ family and in the outdoor space, it has always been very important to Kate and I to provide an inclusive environment for our participants, especially when often times they are already in a vulnerable state being outdoors and trying something for the first time with people they are meeting for the first time. If you don’t feel like you can be comfortable about your sexual orientation that can make it even harder to want to try something new in the outdoors. Have you experienced this feeling in the outdoors or trying something new in another area of your life? We would love to hear YOUR story. I hope you enjoy the interview, keep on adventuring!
Venture Out Project
What is the number one way you feel The Venture Out Project (TVOP) is able to provide a safe space for the LGTBQ+ community?
Perry:  

The biggest surprise to me was how many folks have come on more than one trip.  When I founded Venture Out I thought it’d be the kind of thing where people came on one trip, learned some skills and then went to backpack on their own.  But what I found was that for so many folks, Venture Out was their only trans or queer community.  In many cases our participants may have had friends online, but many had never hung out with, or even met, another trans person.  People come back for a second, third, fourth or even fifth trip because they know that’ll it’ll be an opportunity not just to be outside, but to make friends and find community.

 
Travis:
Safety in numbers!  Being with other queer folks not only provides the collective safety container, but also, safety in our own bodies.  I know even for me, I feel safer and seen when around other queer & trans folks.
The Venture Out Project
 
What has been the biggest eye opener or surprise as TVOP has grown in what it is today?
Travis:
The biggest thing I’ve noticed is how many people have WANTED to learn how to backpack or break into outdoor activities, and just don’t know how to start or who to ask. And gear is often SO GENDERED.  Which is completely ridiculous.  We’ve heard so many stories at this point of our participants going to outdoor stores looking for boots or backpacks and being steered away from the “men’s section”, or the “women’s section” because of their perceived gender.  It literally makes no sense at all.
 
How did you become part of the TVOP family?
Travis:

I found out about TVOP in 2015 when a friend posted something about it on my Facebook wall.  Like “Hey look at what these queers in New England are doing”.  I’m originally from New England, but was/still am living in Portland, OR.  I immediately contacted Perry, the founder of TVOP, and asked I could lead a trip for him.  We agreed on a week long backpacking trip that summer on The Long Trail in Vermont.  There were three guides and two participants!

Six months later, he hired me on as his Office Manager and now I’m the Director of Operations.  We also now fill our trips to capacity (and even have wait lists!)

What is your favorite trip to guide and why?
 
Travis:
 
After every trip I lead, I declare “that was my favorite!”.  This is such a hard question – all of them are so emotionally powerful.
But I will say…this last summer Perry and I lead an experienced backpacking trip in Oregon.  It was originally supposed to be on the Loowit Trail around Mount St. Helen’s.  Due to Oregon having such an amazing snow winter last year (yay!), it was not clear of snow in time.  Instead we spent four days backpacking in the Colombia River Gorge – which is so incredibly beautiful.  The area we were in last July, is the same area that caught fire this fall and has since burned.  I’m so grateful we got to share this special area with folks.  The gorge will regrow, probably even more beautiful, but it will be some time.   On the last day of this trip, we crossed into Washington and summited Mount St. Helen’s – which is never NOT a profound experience.  This trip was an incredible one.
This upcoming summer, Perry and I are guiding a trip for those of trans experience in Maine – my home state.  We’ll be climbing Mount Katahdin, spending a few days in Baxter State Park, and then spending a few days in a small rustic cabin on a cove on a small Maine Island.    I have a feeling this will also raise to the top of my list of “favorite trips”.
Backcountry Venture Out Project
 
What have some of your participants gone on to do or said after a trip with TVOP?
 
Travis
This is such a great question.  Several of our past participates have actually gone on to become instructors for us!  Another one of our favorite participants lives in Texas and had never played in the snow before.  His first trip with us was a week-long Queer Winter Camp in Jackson Hole, WY.  He now regularly goes on skiing trips with his brother!
Perry:
 
My favorite story about a what a participant did after his trip still gives me chills.  This participants came on our queer ski trip in Wyoming.  He called me up a few weeks after the trip to tell me his story.  “When I came on this trip I was only out to four people in the world as trans.  I thought it was something I needed to keep secret. I felt scared and ashamed.  But on our trip, I met so many out and happy queer and trans folks.  It was really eye opening to me.  I saw the lightness with which you all walked through the world and contrasted that to the tension I felt from carrying this secret.  So after much thought I decided I was going to have a gender reveal party for myself.  I invited a bunch of friends over for a party and about an hour into the party I told them I was trans.  They were so welcoming, supportive and happy for me.  It feels so good to be relieved of this burden.  I could not have done this without TVOP.  Thank you for showing me what could be.”
Queer Youth Venture Out Project
What are you most proud of as an employee of TVOP? 
 
My proudest moments are spending time with Queer Youth.  This past summer, we put the youth fully in charge coming up with a plan to get everyone up the mountains.  Their care for each other was so pure.  To see them struggle, to see them negotiation and compromise, to encourage, and support each other.  It’s just incredible.  And then to hear them giggling at night is just the icing on the cake.  So proud to be an employee of TVOP and be able to create these experiences for queer & trans youth.
 
 
What is next for TVOP?
TVOP is growing!  We’re offering more trips, and as mentioned before, hiring past participants as guides.   This summer we’re offering our first “POC Centered” Classic Backpacking Trip lead with Mercy Shammah of Wild Diversity in the Pacific Northwest! We’re also expanding our ages on our Queer Youth Backpacking trips and have trips for both 12-14 and 15-19 year olds!  Another exciting new offering is a Nature Connection Retreat co-run by Tam Willey of Toadstool Walks taking place in Colombian River Gorge of Washington.
The Venture Out Project
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Winter camping

Guide to Winter Camping

Guide to winter camping

by: Scott Jackson

As the weather begins to turn and many peoples thoughts turn to Christmas and the warmth of an open hearth, for some people with a sense of adventure the worsening weather isn’t an excuse to forgo the outdoors. As the Scandinavians say “Ikke dårlige vær, bare dårlige klær”, which translates as “There is no such thing as bad weather, just bad clothing”. So don’t make the weather an excuse. With the correct preparations, skills, and gear you can have just as much fun camping during the winter.

Preparation

Planning to go camping in winter takes more skills and gear than your typical summer frolic in the woods. As such, your prep should be above and beyond to help ensure you have a safe and fun trip. It is a great idea to invite some companions, especially ones who have experience or specific cold weather skill sets, e.g., avalanche training, building snow shelters, etc.

Many preparation elements are similar to those you would do for a summer hike, such as route planning, leaving a trip plan with someone or checking the weather conditions. However, as the margins for error are so much smaller in more miserable weather, you should pay extra attention and go over your plans with your whole group two, three (or more) times to ensure everyone is on the same page.

Also, being able to recognize and avoid avalanche areas is a crucial skill, and we would highly recommend that your whole group receives training if you will be at or near any slopes greater than 20 degrees inclination. Indeed, taking a cold weather hiking or camping course may be beneficial in any event.

Winter hike
Hiker with snowshoes in winter

Gear

The first rule of winter hiking and camping is to stay dry and warm, so choose appropriate clothing that’ll insulate you, wicks moisture, dries quickly, is waterproof and breathable.

It is commonly acknowledged that you should be wearing three layers; base layer(s)* next to your skin that will keep you warm and wick sweat away from your body, middle layer which will act as insulation such a fleece shirt or jacket, and finally your outer layer which should be waterproof/windproof and breathable, so you should be thinking about a good jacket.

* in especially cold weather, consider wearing two base layers.

When considering your “big 4” items (Bag, Shelter, Sleeping Bag & Pad), you should look at whether your bag, pad, and tent are appropriate for the weather conditions and upgrade if necessary. You may also need to bring a larger bag than you usually would when you consider the extra gear you will need to bring.

A cold weather sleeping bag is more heavy duty than your summer one, and is often filled with down, has additional features like a hood and draught collars. You should select a bag that is rated for temperatures about 10 degrees F colder than what you expect on the trip. As most heat is lost to the ground when you sleep, be sure to bring two sleeping pads with high R-ratings (R-Ratings are how insulated the pad is). A common hack is to place a closed-cell foam pad on the ground and layer a self-inflating pad on top for maximum insulation

Look around for a sturdy 4-season tent – these are designed with sturdier poles that can support more weight (should you get a substantial dump of snow overnight), and are often double layered to provide extra insulation and reduce condensation.

At the camp

Choosing a site & Setting Up

As you reach your appointed campsite area, make sure you have set out early enough to get there with plenty of daylight left to set up. When choosing an exact campsite location remember the following:

  • do not set up on any ridges or other places exposed to high winds
  • do not set up directly under trees as branches can break
  • do not set up camp if there is a risk of avalanches

Once you have picked a spot, spend some time packing down the snow around your pitch areas. If you can, give it 30 mins or so to settle before beginning to pitch your tents. When pitching your tent make sure to set up the entrance, so it is at 90 degrees to any prevailing winds. Rather than using tent stakes, bring plastic shopping bags, loop the guys through the handles, fill with snow and bury them so only the tops of the handles are visible.

If it is going to be especially cold night, then build either a snow wall to protect your tent from the wind or pack up snow on your shelter from the base up – make sure you have someone on the inside pushing back against the snow, so it holds up. Once it has set this will provide extra insulation than just your tent alone.

Finally, dig out a pit under your porch (about 3 feet), so that you can sit down to comfortably take off your boots before entering the tent, plus it generates more space to hold the rest of your equipment.

Camp kitchen

If you are planning on camping in the same spot for several days or more, consider packing down and digging out trenches to create a table and benches set up to enjoy your meals. If you are just overnighting this probably isn’t worth it, but in either case, it is worthwhile bringing a smaller tent or tarp to give yourself some shelter to cook if the weather turns foul.

At cold temperatures, Liquid-Fuel stoves will perform better than canister stoves, and it is worth bringing a second stove as a contingency just in case the first one fails. Also, remember to bring extra fuel – cold weather reduces the efficiency of all stoves so you will go through more, faster.

One benefit of cold weather camping is the ability to bring boil in the bag meals which tend to be a bit more flavorful than your typical dehydrated meals. Thanks to cold weather these will be kept refrigerated (or frozen) during your trip.

Lastly, a few words when it comes to water on your trip. The first being, DO NOT eat snow! It takes a considerable amount of calories for your body to convert ice to water that it can use, and additionally snow and ice can be full of bacteria and microbes. Always, boil the snow first to kill off any bugs and to prevent yourself from expending energy.

When storing water, it is best to use wide-mouthed plastic containers so you can simply pour your hot (boiled) water into them, then flip them upside down and store them in insulated pockets. Flipping them upside down prevents the lid/drinking tube from freezing.

Bio

My Open Country is a 2 person campaign to try and get more people excited about the outdoors and wilderness. We believe life wasn’t meant to be lived behind a computer screen so we provide as much information as we can into one site, so you can spend less time planning and more time doing.

My Open Country

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Backcountry Women DNK Presents

The Wild Wild Wilderness

By: Anne McCarty

This October, 13 women and I decided we were going to heighten the bar of our limitations while doing something we love. Our adventure was in the ever beautiful Morgan-Monroe State Forest (http://www.in.gov/dnr/forestry/4816.htm) just outside of Martinsville, Indiana and began in the Low Gap Trail Parking Lot and ended at the Fox Den Shelter at the end of the Tecumseh Trail. We set out on a trip that pushed us physically but relieved us mentally of our day-to-day stress.

Wilderness Women DNK Presents

Teamwork makes the Dream Work

Some of the group were veterans to backpacking while others, including myself, had not been on a trip this rigorous in a while or ever. Even so, everyone motivated and helped each other out when someone was struggling or couldn’t figure something out. At the beginning, most of us were strangers to each other coming from very different backgrounds and even different states, but by the end we were a dynamic and supportive (and also an exhausted) group of individuals ready to take on the world. This adventure was the epitome of having fun while learning especially since we were all wanting to learn for ourselves. For two days we learned about water filtration, leaving no trace behind, the basics of camping, trail reading, how to rehydrate/cook dehydrated food and most importantly about our mutual passion for the outdoors.

Backcountry Women DNK Presents

Disconnect to Reconnect

Going to the backcountry and not having cell service can be a bit daunting but we took every precaution by bringing first aid kits, having emergency contacts, letting the folks at DNR (MorganSF@dnr.IN.gov) know where we would be going and how many of us there were, and staying on the trail. Ultimately the benefits of not being able to check social media or email showed, in joking around, sharing advice to a fellow outdoorswoman, talking about goals and plans in life, the list goes on. Beyond that, you really tune into your mind and body which made conquering this 18-mile hike with 35 pounds on your back more than manageable.

Outdoor Women DNK Presents

Changed for the Better

A lot can happen in two days, and I think I can say for most of the ladies, their goals for going on this adventure with DNK Presents were met. I personally exceeded my own expectations having past injuries, and I couldn’t be prouder. I learned that you don’t need half of what you think you do; to bring a long flowy skirt and baggy shirt for the drive home; to be prepared for allergies you didn’t think you had to show up; always have some sort of measuring tool, to bring at least two large water bottles; that the word “bladder” is used frequently in the backpacking world and you can go further than you think you can.

Backpacking Women DNK Presents

We came. We learned. We conquered this adventure.

Check out the video summary of our wild wilderness adventure below, hope you can join us on adventures in 2018!

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DNK Presents Camping

Camping Hacks Series

By: Anne McCarty

Here at DNK Presents we are all about helping people discover themselves through adventure whether they are dogs trying new tricks or sticking to what they know. This blog series will be dedicated to bringing together campers far and wide to make sure they are safe and knowledgeable about camping!

Let it be light!

No lantern but need more light? No problem. Strap a headlamp to a water bottle or jug. If you don’t have a headlamp a phone’s flashlight set up under the bottle works just as well!

Light - Camping Hacks

Photo from Pinterest

Green with envy or red from Ivy?

It is recommended that you familiarize yourself with dangerous or irksome plants like Poison Ivy! Here is a helpful link for your convenience: https://www.thespruce.com/pictures-of-poisonous-plants-2132624

 

Sticks and Stones

Camping and other outdoor activities can be dangerous so being prepared with a mini first aid kit is the way to go!

First Aid - DNK Presents

Photo from Pinterest

 

Getting cold feet about camping?

A lot of times people worry about camping in cold weather so if this is something that worries you, have no fear! Something that is important is to take your shoes off when you get into your sleeping bag because it restricts the heat from your feet. Two options to keep your toes warm are bringing a heated water pack/bottle and if that’s not an option use what you have: your clothes! Stuffing your clothes by your feet will help keep your feet toasty!

 

Stay tuned for next week’s edition of Camping Hacks: Packing Hacks. Stay up to date on our trips coming up on our Adventures page. Don’t see something that fits with your schedule? Contact us for a private customized adventure for you and your friends.

Is there something you would like to see on our Camping Hacks series? Reply in the comments or email us at hello@dnkpresents.com, happy trails!

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Women's Backpacking DNK Presents

An Outdoor Weekend Adventure to Remember

By: Kati L Taylor
08/27/2017

 

In mid-August, a fun and diverse group went on the DNK Presents Wild Women’s Backpacking Overnight Adventure here in the beautiful Midwest. Several of the women had never been backpacking before. While some had been camping or “glamping”, most had not done an overnight trip for a while and it was a new experience for them to carry everything needed on their backs. Perhaps by the end of the trip some were questioning what they really need versus what provides comfort.

This weekend overnight trip gave women an opportunity to hike in the backcountry of both the beautiful Morgan-Monroe State Forest and Yellowwood Forest. The trip was structured and guided by some experienced women backpackers who want to share their love of nature with others. Meals, water filtration, and gear were provided, plus there was the security of knowing that the guides are trained to keep the group safe.

Being a women-only adventure makes these trips special.

Spending time outside, immersed in nature experiencing new things, brings out a different side to thoughts and how women connect with each other. Moreover, when you get a group of women together in the woods overnight, mentalities change, and conversation can be powerful and get intense!

There were two mother-daughter adventurers who got some quality time together. Two of the ladies were connected through a third friend but did not know each other. All three were young mothers. Another bold woman joined the trip solo, not knowing anyone prior to the trip. Regardless of their initial relationship, everyone worked together and became closer over the 24-hour adventure.

Wilderness trips prove to be great bonding opportunities, not only with each other, but ‘getting back to nature’ makes you more aware of yourself. After an energetic hike, several of the women realized an exceptional peacefulness in meditating by Bear Lake which set a more subdued mood for the hike back to the campsite.

No phone, but not alone.

Being in the backcountry means your phone basically does not work. With no reception a phone becomes only useful for the camera function and obviously there is nowhere to charge it. In fact, as the photo/video documentarian on this adventure, I may have been the only backpacker who intentionally left my phone back in the car.

While it’s comical now, at the time, everyone was concerned when the trip guide lost her phone. She was sure it had fallen out of her pocket at night near our campsite while gathering firewood. So the women teamed up to search through the darkness and find it. A persistent gal on the trip politely asked if she could search through the guide’s tent and backpack. Lo and behold, the phone was in her backpack the whole time. What a relief when it was found?!

This trivial happening, while it turned out well, was a great reminder that we need to disconnect. Having a great group of thoughtful, caring women on your team makes connecting easy even without a signal!

Leave no toothpaste… I mean leave no trace!

While trying to hang food in the tree overnight to avoid and racoons or other critters invading it, one of the ladies decided to use her toothpaste as a weight to get the rope over a tree limb. Long story short, it got stuck in the tree. With the intent of always leaving no trace on the trail, the group of women teamed up to get the toothpaste out of the tree. What an adventure it was! For more on this funny happening and to see what the women had to say about the trip overall, watch the video summary of the weekend’s adventures.

Mind the gap.

At the moment when this backpacking adventure had ended and the women were crossing the bridge to get back to their vehicles, a group from the Indiana Forrest Alliance was hiking in. These passionate folks were handing out brochures to raise support and awareness around an important issue in these exact forests where these women had just experienced so much.

Our state has plans to sell logging rights in this area where nearly 300 acres could be affected and thousands of trees could be logged if the deal goes through. This affects everyone and while the terms of the agreement may be vague, preserving our Indiana natural resources is for a greater good.

It’s important to preserve Indiana’s beautiful forests for the health of our planet, the wildlife that lives there, and for ourselves–let everyone forever enjoy the natural beauty! Please consider contacting Governor Holcomb and urge our state to stop logging the forests.

 

For those who have never been backpacking, or want to experience it again, consider a trip. Indiana has some beautiful outdoor spaces and amazing trails to experience. Disconnect, decompress, experience something new, and enjoy the natural beauty around you.

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dnk presents, private group adventures, corporate team building adventures, adventures, mountain biking

Millennials & The Workplace

There is a new wave of employees entering the workforce: millennials. Soon enough, according to Forbes, millennials will make up the biggest chunk of the workforce in America. In order to keep up with the fast pace world we live in, it is important that employers create a work environment that is inviting to millennials. Millennials have grown up surrounded by bright screens, “breaking news”, and all the information in the world, at their fingertips. But what kind of environment is this generation generally interested in in the workplace?

According to Forbes, Jamie Gutfreund, the chief strategy officer for the Intelligence Group, states that these are some of the preferences millennials have when looking for a place to work.

  • 88% want an environment that integrates work and life into one comfortable blend. Keep in mind that this is different from a balance between work and life.
  • 88% also want a work-culture that is more collaborative in nature than it is competitive.
  • 72% may want to be their own bosses, but 79% acknowledge that in the meantime, they’d prefer that their bosses be more like mentors to them rather than what much too often is the behavior expected from a boss.

In other words, millennials are looking for a cohesive, nurturing, learning environment in their jobs. Open to different experiences and more personable workplaces, this could only mean great things for your future workplace. A team that gets along will produce the best results. If you think about it, there is really no sense in having to dread the people and place you work for and with. Making changes to your workplace practices will bring in not just millennials, but the best of the best.

Now you’re probably wondering how you can achieve this. It’s simple really. Take the work place out of…. the work place. Even if it is something like grabbing lunch together or catching a local concert, even if it can’t happen on a weekly or monthly basis, it all counts. Just one time could leave people in your workplace feeling more comfortable and at ease with one another having now seen that your all humans with lives outside of work as well.

Here at DNK Presents, it is our belief that one of the most rewarding and amazing things you can do as a workplace is hit the outdoors. As we talked about in an earlier blog post, Finding Our Oxygen Again, there are many benefits of the outdoors including its health benefits, social benefits, as well as its elements of rejuvenation. These all aid in garnishing a stronger workplace environment. On top of that, it has been well documented that being outdoors, even if doing something as simple as walking, can increase mental health. This can lead to an increase in attention and productivity as well as with the overall well being of a person. You can read more about this from The New York Times.

So what do we recommend? Well, there’s nothing like getting down and dirty and exposing yourself to some of your greatest fears. Why not try out something as simple and relaxing as a paddle trip or a light hike in your local park. Looking for something a bit more challenging? Good! The more challenging, the more you as a group will be able to come together. Try something like a weekend backpacking trip or a white water rafting adventure. Why not leave the state all together and check out a national park? Whatever it may be, it will prove to be a true bonding experience that you’ll be sure to never forget.

In order to stay relevant as a work place and to enjoy the time you spend working, it can’t hurt to try something new, as a team. Even though there may be some people in your workplace that you don’t directly work with, they are still a part of that team and are still working towards the same goal as you. It can’t hurt to know who you’re sharing workspace with and to get out and stretch yourself while you’re at it.

Luckily, we at DNK Presents specialize in corporate adventures as well as personal ones. Check out the rest of our website for more information and to get your workplace up and on its feet! Unplug for just a second and connect with those around you. In the long run, it will pay off in a way that you can actually see. But in the mean time? Enjoy the people you are surrounded by everyday.

Eden Ashebir
Adventure Marketing Intern

Your Next Great Adventure…
#DNKpresents

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