The Exercise

Wow, this exercise took a LONG time… it was hard to get advice from some people, but in the end I have a much better solution and a LOT more support! Thanks for your patience! Like Exercise 4, this one was all about getting advice from 10 people (not just talking to 10), but in this case they needed to be closer to my field of interest. I reached out to pastors, adventure coaches, Special Forces operators (oh yeah), authors entrepreneurs, adventure journalists, and counselors. I even got a response (not recorded here) from Erwin Mcmanus on Instagram (or at least from his IG person… it didn’t seem like it was him responding. I’ll have to ask him about that someday when we meet in person!). As with Exercise 4, I could choose to incorporate the advice from each person or not before moving on to the next, and I always asked for referrals (I STILL have a few more of those to reach out to!). One other thing I learned by the end (thanks Helene Scott!) is that I need to start keeping track of all my contacts for this initiative, and who introduced me to each one.

Along the way, I’ve been doing more casual adventures with our local ruck club, Boiler Ruck. Each week I’m seeing the fruit of this work, and how it inspires other men to want more adventure in their lives once they get a taste of it. This works. It will work. It continues to work. My good friend, Stefan Sondgerath is a professional videographer and has been inspired to put together videos like the one on this blog post for the club, and we’re now working on an adventure film together. How cool is that?? I NEVER thought something like this would come out of following God in the next step He lays out for me and trusting that the path He has me on will lead me to where I need to go. Like many things in life lately, if you had told me a few months ago when I started this initiative that it would lead here, I would have called you crazy. Let’s dive in, I can’t wait to show you what I’ve been up to!

Here’s where we started:

Old problem

The lack of adventure in the lives of men who are married, have children, and are employed professionally leads them to feel stagnant, empty, and stuck in life (I’ve been there before and know this well!).

Old solution

An e-learning platform where men are broken into small groups to adventure together, and rewarded for taking action on podcast challenges, and doing other adventure challenges as laid out by the Board of Adventurers.

The Board of Adventurers that includes Epic people such as Eric Davis, Larry Yatch, Mark Divine (all Navy SEALs), Bear Grylls, the Ransomed Heart Team, Adam Savage, Josh Spodek, Jeff Bonaldi, etc. This Board will provide mentorship (directly or indirectly) for the participants, and provide content for sets of adventure challenges (think Boy Scout merit badges).

These challenges will consist of a number of casual, crucial, and epic adventures building confidence in a specific skill set and are intended to be done in groups (the groups will be numbered classes, ie. Class 001, etc.). At the completion of the set of adventures, men will be rewarded with a unique patch. Members of the community will have discounts to affiliate adventure and gear companies (most of which will be associated with the Board of Adventurers).

Upon completion of a certain number of challenges, men will achieve a new ranking in the community, making them eligible for another unique patch. Leaders in the community will also be given opportunities for leadership training.

People I got advice from

Cadre DS (GORUCK Cadre)

Put together the Top 10 Badges. What do the levels of adventure look like?

How do you market this to people who aren’t doing GORUCK events?

Check out F3 (Faith, Fitness, Fellowship)

Put together an event within the F3 structure

D & D in a Castle

How does this position against other models?

Find a similar model to yours and start trading value propositions

Define more clearly who you’re selling to: is this a program for singles? A men’s retreat?

Talk to 10 users per week to interview!

Fabio Aromatici

He used to be a highly paid executive in the fashion industry but wasn’t fulfilled in that. He got the opportunity to adventure with his when she took a post as a diplomat. Since then, adventure has helped him find a life of fulfillment and joy!

Fabio sent over a bunch of really good questions in an email after our talk:

1) Is the activity merely commercial or it does also involve a certain level of social commitment?

This involves a level of social commitment as well. The men in the program will need to commit to at least 4 activities as a group per month

2) Are you thinking of something exclusively in the physical realm or also online/books etc. ?

Definitely more than just physical. Study and creative adventures will be part of it

3) Action based or more about talking/puzzles/lectures?

Action based. It’ll be all about taking action and getting guys moving together!

4) Is it similar to LRPG?

Yes, in a sense. Men will complete certain adventures together in different topic areas, which will let them earn badges.

5)  Fully private or open to public funds?

Open to public funds if someone wants to invest!

6) What is the target audience (gender/age/etc.) ?

Two audiences: men in their 20s to early 30s who are married, have children, and are in a professional career. Men in their 50s – 60s who are near retirement.

7) Does it have to be exclusively “adventure oriented” or it could be also intellectually challenging?

Adventure as I define it is: an experience where you learn through persevering into the unknown, finding fulfillment. So, therefore, it doesn’t have to be the typical adventure activities we think about.

8) Are you open to create a 24/7 environment or just single events?

24/7 environment

9) Who are the other partners involved at the moment?

Jeff Bonaldi (Explorer’s Passage), Larry Yatch (retired Navy SEAL), Eric Davis (retired Navy SEAL), Shelby Stanger (Wild Ideas Worth Living podcast), one GORUCK Cadre (retired Air Force combat controller), Larry Hagner (the Good Dad Project), Dan McPherson, Armando Cruz, Sam Eldredge (Ransomed Heart Ministries), Kenyon Zitzka (Zero Excuses podcast), Tuan Nguyen (Awesome Bizdads podcast), Helene Scott

10)  What is YOUR ultimate goal in this activity?

To create an environment where I feel unstoppable joy to continue adventuring with men in my community and across the globe because I’ve shown them how to embrace adventure every day, enabling us to create the time on our calendars and the resources we need to support epic adventures.

 

11) What do you expect my role to be?

I’d like to have you on the team in one of two roles:

  1. Helping me write content for merit badges in your areas of expertise

  2. Leading epic adventures in a revenue-sharing partnership with our groups

Mark from F3

All Pro Dads has open events where you can bring your kids and get together

F3 is all about building connection through vulnerability. Help guys see they have similar goals through adventure.

Fox Kits Survival School started out of F3 with themed events

F3 is what most men’s ministries wish they could be!

Tension always brings intimacy, that’s why GORUCK events work!

Use Tuckman’s stages of group development: storming, norming, performing, adjourning

Shelby Stanger

Just get a website up! Even if it’s “in development” having a landing page to build an email list is a good idea.

Get in touch with Francis St. John @ BroActive SD

Be FOR men. It’s needed! If you win the men, they’ll take care of the women in their lives better!

Billy Rogers

Introduced me to Mike Burchich, who runs Mastermind Adventures. Amazing introduction!

Do this in tandem with a women’s group if you can to get through the barrier of the men saying “I’ve gotta check with my wife”

Emily McCarthy

To keep it inclusive of the whole family, do a once/month family event, once/month spouse invite event

Consistency is key! Keep it easy to plan around

There should be a fee or a commitment to building your local community to join

Read Scripture, then do burpees!

This would be awesome with groups like AA too!

Distill it to it’s most simple form: you’re getting back to the roots of discipleship! Just get people to show up

Keep the events simple, don’t over think things. If you want to teach about getting lost in the woods and how that’s like getting lost in life… Murphy always finds a way. 😉

The Board of Adventurers would be great! Just wait until things are established and let it develop organically.

Scott Henderson

Read the book “Wisdom at Work”

Check out Marshal Mosher (https://vestigo.co)

Focus on giving older men (50+) a role in the group. The guys nearing retirement age need this too!

Scott Morin

Look @ the field manual for Wild at Heart

Guys don’t value time with guys, or adventure! Would need to teach new values!

Need to give them permission to give themselves permission to engage in it

Sages need to tell younger men when enough is enough. It’s especially important to have older men let younger, driven men know that money isn’t everything in life

Ask guys, “are you going to do this once, or just exist on autopilot?”

Teach them your values, because that’ll be the most authentic

Dave Urichuck

People need to go through a crisis to realize they need help. Show guys the trajectory they’re on!

Put a video on your website showing how your friends have incorporated this philosophy and changed their lives. Also could do videos with likeminded people in the industry.

Take your time and promote it well. Get video feedback on the casual adventures and put it on your website

Get through the “with kids I can’t….” argument with guys!

There’s something about getting guys together in a boat, raft, or canoe that really builds teamwork and teaches leadership (Dan: through this conversation we came up with the idea of making canoe paddles together with their names on them, along with my logo)

Let nature unravel the lessons of the day, don’t overthink things

Eric Davis

Make sure you look at the overall revenue and make it make sense

If it’s going to scale, do excursions where you live!

Ask John Eldredge and his team how they make money, you might be able to use a similar model

You’ll need Cadre for this (like Eric and Larry)

One way to get some Cadre would be offering an opportunity for people to teach skills in an environment they normally wouldn’t get. They could volunteer for this!

Reverse affiliate relationships: if you recommend guys for Eric and Larry’s leadership training, they can then turn around and send their clients to your adventures if you’ve got all the logistics taken care of.

One way to keep the adventures accessible would be to transparently have wealthy clients pay more for the experiences so that lower income men can attend affordably.

 

New problem and solution

New Problem:

There’s often a point in many men’s lives where the exhilaration of adventure diminishes leaving them looking forward to going to bed at night more than they do waking up in the morning.

New Solution:

Build off an F3 group, meeting weekly with a group of 5-12 men. Starting with my own church men’s group and building from there.

Casual, crucial, and epic adventures under different topics to earn ruck patches (like Scout merit badges). Kids can earn patches too if they do the adventures with dad!

Will incentivize the men to complete adventures with friends and/or family

Put groups together with men of different age groups (at least one guy who is 50+)

First Group HQ in the schoolhouse owned by Chuck and Brian (one of many examples of amazing support coming together around this!)

Will connect each group with a mentor that has the gear and skills they need to do the adventures they want to do

Get guys into the program through an adventure festival in the spring after pilot group

Have a regular call with the Board of Adventurers to get ideas on each set of badges, new adventures to plan, ways to work together to solve this problem. The Board will be comprised of the men who lead the Epic adventure for each badge (or any other Epic level adventurers who want to join along the way. The point is to grow it slowly and organically). Currently we have Jeff Bonaldi on the Board since he’s going to lead the first Epic adventure!

Adventurer Hall of Fame – videographer @ Epic adventures and highlight video for each guy w/ adventure journal style article

For crucial and epic adventures, include support for the men’s wives in the fee. Will send a massage gift card or some other way of supporting them while their husbands are away.

Fund the operation of the business through social entrepreneurship grants to make the casual adventures on a regular basis free or low cost. Use affiliate deals with other companies like Plan Sight, Average Frog, etc. for the crucial adventures and have them send their clients back to us for the epic adventures we put on with Explorer’s Passage.

First 10 badges:

Leadership

Fitness

Fire building

Canoeing

Camping

Adventure logistics

Resilience

Navigation

Knot tying

First Aid

Here’s what I’ve got so far for the Leadership badge, as an example:

Anthem of the Adventurer Leadership Badge

Desired End State

We will hold the obligation to have a leadership development badge to create an environment where men will gain confidence in their abilities to lead, manage, and follow on a high functioning team, enabling them to level up their coordination of actions with others in the individual, family, and professional domains.

And to avoid an environment where men feel chaos and uncertainty on their teams in life because of a lack of leadership skills ensuring they will fail to live up to their ultimate potential.

Casual Adventures

Supporting resources/learning

Casual adventure course and distinctions

New skills to develop

  1. Show the characteristics of an effective follower on a team
  2. Demonstrate connection within a team

Adventures and requirements

See Casual Adventures under the Leadership category on this sheet: https://docs.google.com/spreadsheets/d/1xNQrCkQivesKqbS9zaweVm3EWCyUsZs9DUddxIFQ5i0/edit?usp=sharing

Crucial Adventures

Supporting resources/learning

Plan Sight Leadership and Teams course with Larry Yatch

New skills to develop

  1. Confidence in the power of language
  2. Able to own distinctions for Lead-Follower, Manager
  3. Able to exhibit the behaviors of an effective Lead-Follower and Manager on an adventure

Adventures and requirements

Epic Adventure

Supporting resources/learning

https://www.coloradoan.com/story/sports/outdoors/2015/08/20/climb-longs-peak/32073089/

Navigation: need some resources here!

Climbing: https://meritbadge.org/wiki/index.php/Climbing

Mountaineering: https://meritbadge.org/wiki/index.php/Mountaineering_%28Ranger_Award_elective%29

Hiking: https://meritbadge.org/wiki/index.php/Hiking

Fitness training: GORUCK

New skills to develop

  1. Confidence in the ability to lead, manage, and follow in different aspects of the expedition
  2. Be able to apply lessons learned during the expedition to individual, family, and professional domains

Adventures and requirements

Option 1: Expedition to Longs Peak in Colorado with Explorer’s Passage

Requirement: previous climbing/mountaineering experience to assume Leader or Manager role

Option 2: Colorado expedition with firearms element, Eric Davis included as guest Cadre along with Jeff Bonaldi

 

Reflection:

I felt really motivated going into this exercise. I wrote down a whole bunch of ideas of people to talk to…. and at first no one answered. I got a lot of “that sounds great, but I don’t have the bandwidth” type of answers to my requests for advice. I got honestly really discouraged a few times throughout these conversations, but I pushed through. And wow, am I ever glad I did. The solution that came out of this is tighter, more doable, and more REAL than ever before. Heck, I’ve even tentatively got a place to host this crazy thing (thanks Chuck and Brian!)! Everyone I actually got to talk to was genuinely excited to see this happen and wanted to help.

One of my favorite things was when Emily McCarthy said  something along the lines of “you’re doing for church men’s groups what GORUCK did for rucking. You’re turning it on its head and getting back to the roots!” I hadn’t thought about this like that before. Really, at its core, I’m getting back to what men want out of a relationship with other Christian brothers: true fellowship with Christ and with each other, the ability to do adventures together regularly, and to serve others powerfully.

If you want to join in the adventure, I’ve put together a landing page with a signup form. You can express your interest to be in a group as a member or to lead a group. Once I’ve got the structure together, I’ll be contacting anyone interested in leadership with next steps and tools to get going.

Local Adventure

If you want to suggest some ideas for adventures we can do in the groups once they go live, feel free to share those with this form.

I’ll be using ideas from there to start populating the first 10 badges, so put in as many as you can think of!

Who’s ready for some adventure together?