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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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Rock Climbing, DNK Presents

Indiana’s ONLY Indoor to Outdoor Rock Climbing Program

Ever wanted to learn how to rock climb but didn’t want to go as a beginner or alone? Our developmental program meets every Wednesday from 7 to 9 PM from October 11th until November 11th.  On November 10th-11th the program will take a weekend trip to Red River Gorge to climb outdoors. The facility we will meet at is EPIC Climbing Gym (1931 Stout Field W Dr. INDPLS, IN 46241). EPIC Climbing Gym is an indoor facility where everyone in the program will be taught safety and technique when it comes to indoor rock climbing. Experts will be teaching a 2 hour instructional class a week, a month of unlimited practice time and a weekend trip to the Red River Gorge for outdoor climbing. Take your skills to the test with the last class being an outdoor trip to the Red River Gorge in Kentucky! You’ll leave the class confident and with your own gear to take on your next climbing adventure! If you are an EPIC Members the cost is $350 per person* ($25 off if you already have gear) and if you are a non-EPIC Member the price is $375 ($25 off if you already have gear).

Our program at DNK Presents is the ONLY Indoor to Outdoor Rock Climbing Program in Indiana and this is our last program of 2017!

Go to the link to learn more and sign-up!

Indoor to Outdoor Rock Climbing

*Must be a member at EPIC for a least a month prior to the Indoor to Outdoor class to obtain the discount.

>>>DNK Presents are certified Lead Climbers, Wilderness First Aid and CPR, and are in the American Mountain Guide Single Pitch Instructors Apprenticeship program. We will provide climbing instruction and belay for the group for the Red River Gorge Trip.<<<

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Whistler Mountain Biking, dnk presents, private group adventures, corporate team building adventures, adventures,

Spring/Summer Adventure ReCap DNK Presents

Dear Adventurers,

We hope your summer has been filled with lots of love, happiness, and of course adventure. We know ours definitely has! Our big season started out with a bang with our documentary film, “Live Adventurously” winning Best Documentary and being nominated for Best Cinematography in the Alhambra Film Festival in Evansville, IN. We then got to guide our new 2017 Live Adventurously Women’s Adventure Contest winners on their big adventure in central Indiana. This year the weekend was filmed by a local Indianapolis woman film maker, Lindsay Mitchell, stay tuned as she develops her feature adventure film.

In July we took some time off to work on our mountain bike skills, had some down time with family, and then got to assistant coach at one of the most exclusive mountain bike clinics in the world, The Trek Dirt Series. We began our adventure by taking one of the most famous of the Trek Dirt Series clinics, in Whistler Canada, where founder, Candace Shadley was born and raised. I not only got to celebrate my birthday in Canada, on Canada Day, on top of a mountain with my Trek Session downhill rental, but got to learn from some of the most bad ass, and professional women coaches in the industry. We highly recommend these west coast clinics, but are SO excited to offer you amazing coaching and mountain bike camps on this side of the country! Stay tuned and look for more events coming up from Campside Sessions, a joint venture formed from DNK Presents and other fellow Trek Bicycle Women’s Advocate, Erin Wells’ mountain bike business in Baltimore, MD, Muddy Pedals. Our first mountain bike event together is taking place in Brown County State Park, September 22-24, learn more by clicking here.

The summer may be coming to an end, but the adventures for fall are just beginning. We have a lot going on Brown County, who doesn’t love those beautiful autumn leaves? Join us for some bike clinics, backpacking, yoga, hiking, etc. Oh and did we tell you DNK Presents is guiding our first adventure trip out of the country? Yes indeed, Feb. 17-24 we will be guiding a yoga retreat in beautiful Lake Atitlan in Guatemala, filled with yoga, hiking, paddle boarding, meditation, relaxation, and so much more. Check out all the details here!

Keep adventuring!
Danielle & Kate

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How Backpacking Changed My Life

By: Ali Solomon
Our everyday lives can be compared to a revolving door – we go round and round, propelled by emotions of glee and disappointment, our surroundings becoming a distorted blur as we go through our daily routine.  While we can sustain comfort in this kind of lifestyle, what happens when our revolving door stops?  Do we push on as if nothing happened?  Or become overwhelmed with how we are going to move forward?
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8 Reasons Why You Don’t Have to Live in Colorado to be Adventurous

Adventure is out there.

This Midwest gal likes to get wild and dirty. I used to get a little ticked when people would ask, “you have an adventure company in Indiana, (literally laughing to themselves) what do you do, and where do you go?” Once someone actually told me, “to do anything adventurous in Indiana you need to get on a plane and fly somewhere else.” I now have found that when responding to these people I begin to show them photos on my phone, and talk about trips we have led in Indiana, and they slowly begin to see what they have been missing.

Mountain Biking at Southwest Way Park, Indiana

I’ve had a lot of friends move to the coasts, the mountains, to warmer destinations, and don’t get me wrong I LOVE the ocean and I LOVE the mountains. I also know that everyone can’t live in the mountains or on the beach, and even if you don’t live in a place that’s already considered “adventurous” that doesn’t mean that adventure isn’t out there! Some of my favorite adventures are the ones that occurred by mistake, or ones that you have to really work hard to get to, but that make it all worth it in the end.

There’s a saying, “The grass is always greener on the other side” but what about the side I am on, why can’t the grass be green here? I made it my mission to educate and connect humans to the outdoors, to get them to try something for the first time, and experience adventure in places they never knew existed.

So, here are 8 reasons why you don’t have to live in Colorado or California, or Arizona, or anywhere else that isn’t where you are to be adventurous.

  1. Take a road trip instead of flying to your next destination, you’ll be surprised what you find along the way.
  2. Explore a new trail in the parks around or in your city.
  3. If you are in an urban area, commute to work or try commuting to your favorite neighborhood restaurant.
  4. Walk silently, by yourself, in a new place, and without your phone, you will see far more than usual.
  5. Look up the rivers or lakes near your home, take a swim or paddle on the water
  6. If you usually run, take a walk, if you usually walk, go for a run, if you ride your bike, take a walk, or run etc. Switch it up, and change your perspective.
  7. Do yoga outside, let your mat be the Earth, let the ceiling be the sky
  8. Find an adventure meetup or group in your local community, do something different with new people.

 

There you go, you have 8 reasons that adventure is out there. Now it’s up to you to take the next step. Go outside, explore, and let your life become your greatest adventure. Let us know what you did or plan to do to find your next adventure in 2017, happy trails!

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