Let’s face it, we are creatures of habit, myself included. We create rituals and routines that move us through our day and give a sense of control. Sometimes, habits are formed with intention and other times they develop without us noticing. When left unattended, some rituals and routines can leave us stuck, really stuck. Toxic tendencies like self-sabotage, negative self-talk, complacency, distraction, and one of my favorites, letting perfect be the enemy of good can become part of our habit-repertoire. That’s when it’s helpful to bring in fresh air and outside perspective, literally. For many of us in the outdoor community, adventure challenges do just that.
By providing an opportunity to construct intentional habits, reclaim personal power, and build a strong and tenacious community, outdoor adventure challenges offer roadmaps to help us get unstuck. These challenges take on many different forms from multi-day technology shutdowns, learning to hike, re-learning to hike with kids in tow, to developing daily habits that get us out and moving. Well-organized challenges are widely accessible and push participants to try new things.
Participation in wilderness challenges is becomingly increasingly popular but figuring out which option best suits your unique needs can be overwhelming. Earlier this summer, in collaboration with AMI, I took on the task of profiling four wilderness challenges:
52 Hike Challenge
100 Hours Unplugged
365 Mile Challenge
Hike it Baby 30
To make the material digestible, we prepared four separate pieces. In each, I outline the premise of the challenge, how to join, founders, history, and more. Our hope is to veer away from a one-size-fits-all mentality and make it easier for people to connect with an experience that uniquely serves them.
In this modern world, it can feel like we’ve lost our village. Often, we juggle work, home-life, kid-rearing, marriage, self-care and a million other tasks in isolation. Humans weren’t built for that. We are better together.As I worked through the project, I realized at the core of each of these challenges is community. It is profoundly powerful to surround yourself with others who are undertaking a goal parallel to yours. Facebook groups, local meet-ups, and popular hashtags give participants a way to connect and find support.
I heard incredible stories about participants who overcame fears, pushed past perceived limitations, and developed self-reliance in the midst of enormous difficulty. I learned of a stage 4 cancer patient who outlived her prognosis, a newly-single mom finding power and purpose, an obese woman who out performed her doctors’ predictions, and many more. I realized that regardless of our unique stories, there is something to gain from taking on a challenge and stretching ourselves in different ways. At any point in our lives, we have the opportunity to step up our game and reclaim our own power.
We’ll be releasing the individual pieces one by one over the next week. My hope is that after reading more about each challenge, you’ll feel empowered to find an experience that works for YOU.
Sabrina Carlson is on the AMI Board of Directors and is also the Youth Outreach and Education Coordinator with the Seeds of Stewardship Program of the Arizona Trail Association. She is a mama, writer, adventurer, outdoor educator, PPD warrior, fiercely passionate friend, self-care advocate, and deep lover of chocolate and bacon (occasionally together). Follow Sabrina’s adventures @mamawildnfree or read more of her writing at mamawildandfree.com.