Win Tickets to the Calgary Outdoor Adventure and Travel Show

Western Canada’s largest outdoor adventure and travel marketplace, The Outdoor Adventure & Travel Show, returns to the Stampede Park BMO Centre on March 21 and 22, 2015! This exciting two-day event offers a large selection of exhibits, interactive demos, and celebrity guest appearances. Learn all about the show here!

outdoor-adventure-travel-show

Be sure to follow the Outdoor Adventure & Travel Show on their social media channels: Facebook | Twitter | Instagram

Giveaway

You can win Tickets to the Calgary Outdoor Adventure and Travel Show, taking place on March 21-22, 2015! I’m giving away 2 x Family Four Packs. Please enter only if you are able to attend the show.

Contest open to entries until March 1 at 11:59pm MST.

→Enter to win tickets here

climArt change: Film . Art . Words .

Thursday, February 23, the North Columbia Environmental Society presents climArt change, a multi-media show that celebrates the possibilities in the face of climate change.

As the author of the Alpine Club of Canada’s “State of the Mountains Report,” I’ll be giving a short keynote address to kick off the evening.  This talk will introduce the theme of the evening, in addition to highlighting the importance of local knowledge – what we learn from people who have the experience and observations gained from intimate experiences in the wild places.

Other special guests include Greg Hill (he has one inspiring project to share with you), Trapper Snowboards (recreational locovores), and much more…

If you’re in the area, come on out for some art, short films, inspiring words, funky music, drinks, door prizes and a great crowd!

Things Are Getting adVenture-ous

I have the amazing opportunity of being out at Hollyhock, Canada’s Lifelong Learning Centre on Cortes Island, British Columbia. And while the scenery and the feel of the place is enough to make the trip worth it all, I have the added bonus of being here for the Social Venture Institute, “an intensive, interactive inquiry into how to face the day-to-day challenges of running a socially conscious enterprise” (from their website). What does this all mean for me?

Well, I’m not quite sure…yet. For one, I’m here wearing a number of different hats. First and foremost, I’m here on behalf of two very forward-thinking clients, who have me doing some ‘research.’ I’m here representing my own freelance writing and marketing business. I’m here as Editor of Highline Magazine. I’m here to learn on behalf of other partners I work with, including a very exciting health and wellness website to be launched by the end of this year. So, depending on whom I’m talking to, I’m here for slightly different reasons.

If I had to spell it out, though, I’m here to be inspired, rejuvenated, to regain hope, narrow my focus and to scope out the possibilities of seeing a similar gathering of like-minded individuals in Alberta.

I’m also here for me. Ah yes, that little person inside just waiting to be spoken to again. “Hello, Meghan, it’s been awhile.” In juggling multiple contracts, writing gigs, editing requests, trying to play outside during the beautiful summertime and planning a nine week trek in Nepal – let alone clearing the decks completely before I depart – I have been so busy I have somewhat lost myself. All (most) of my projects are very fulfilling, but reading The 4-Hour Workweek lately has got me thinking about how much I take on when I really don’t need to. Call me “Yes Woman.”

So, I am here to get some perspective and to “check out” of life for a few days, even if my email inbox is telling me I should do otherwise.

I look forward to sharing my learning with you.

Ciao (for now) from the coast,

Meghan

Y Leadership and The Shirtless Dancing Guy

“The first follower is what transforms a lone nut into a leader.” – Derek Sivers on TED.com

The Bow Valley of Alberta is a remarkable place. The scenery, of course, draws millions of tourists each year. Visitors and residents alike flock to this Mountain Mecca, allured by the invigorating fresh air, illustrious peaks and an opportunity to connect with nature in a new way. People come and go like waves on the shore. And while the area is known for its transience – students coming for summer, Aussies coming for winter and weekenders coming for a short holiday – the region is chock-full of inspiring people that are here to stay. Passionate people have emerged from the woodwork and done amazing things as leaders in their communities. (Chandra Crawford and her Fast and Female campaign to empower girls through sport comes to mind.)

There is so much more bubbling beneath the surface. This weekend I’ll be attending Y Leadership, a foundational leadership development program for 18 to 30 year-olds, that intersects leadership and experience-based learning. This program, being offered by local partners, including The YWCA, Reframe Leadership, Pacific Center for Leadership and Corporate Funk, is in its pilot phase and I have the opportunity to learning and growing along with a dozen other attendees. I’ll be there to develop professionally, but I’ve also been asked to come as a writer who can bring the message and learning from this program to others through online and print publications.

One thing I’ll be thinking about is how I, as an outdoor, travel and adventure writer, can be a leader in my community, through the pieces I publish and the research I conduct on a daily basis. How might my own learning as a writer affect the planet?

The program faculty sent us two things to take a look at prior to the course starting on Friday. One was a fascinating article in the Financial Post about how Generation Y Will Evolve Leadership. The second was a TED talk by Derek Sivers about How to Start a Movement. At only 3 minutes, the video is well-worth watching here and now! Plus, it’ll answer any questions you might have about the title of this post.

The program runs this Friday, August 5, to Sunday, August 7th. Stay tuned for more updates on this exciting leadership program in Banff National Park.

Celebrating Banff’s 125th with Canada AM

It’s 2:30 am and the alarm goes off. Eastern Canada is already waking up and we’ve got to get ready for the morning news. Being two hours behind Ontario, we had to boogie up to the Lake Louise Ski Area by 4 am to get ready to cheer in the 125th birthday of Banff National Park on a live broadcast with Canada AM. Now who would pass up that opportunity?

The crowd gathers outside in freezing temperatures to celebrate Banff National Park’s 125th birthday.

The torches descend the Lake Louise Ski Hill.

Jeff Hutcheson from Canada AM stands with the crowd at the base of the ski hill.

When Jeff Hutcheson arrived we knew we were in the right place. Soon, a crowd of about 50 people gathered outside in -22 degree weather to watch torches descend the ski hill. After the red lights snaked their way down in the pitch black, Jeff interviewed Parks Canada representatives, who spoke to Banff’s history as the first national park in Canada, a park that was established when the country of Canada was still just a baby.

The Lake Louise Ski Area hosted the live broadcast for Canada AM.

Later we moved inside and Jeff interviewed Eddie Hunter, a legendary Banffite who has been skiing locally for over 75 years, and Canadian Olympic downhill skier, Kelly VanderBeek. Turns out the Lake Louise Ski Area has hosted 150 different World Cup Ski events over the years. In fact, this weekend and next they host the Bombardier Lake Louise Winterstart World Cup for both Downhill and Super G events (you can read my report from last year’s events here).

Jeff Hutcheson interviews Eddie Hunter and Kelly VanderBeek.

Executive Chef Felix Pfister from the Fairmont Chateau Lake Louise came on next to describe the menu he prepares for the World Cup athletes, including 11,000 eggs they go through during the two weeks of the ski racing events. Then he cut a beautifully decorated birthday cake for Banff’s 125th birthday. It was a great way to celebrate such an historic and important milestone in Canada’s Parks System.

Chef Felix Pfister displays the food the World Cup athletes will be eating over the next two weeks.

Birthday cake for Banff’s 125th.

Jeff Hutcheson looks on as Beau the Bear, the mascot for the Fairmont Chateau Lake Louise, grabs hold of the knife to cut the cake.

Detailing on the cake in celebration of Banff’s 125th birthday.

And that’s a wrap!

© Meghan J. Ward, 2010.

Banff Mountain Festivals: Top 5 Speaker Sessions

Days of staring at movies, slideshows and my computer screen have made me feel a bit dizzy, but it’s all in the name of adventure and excitement at the Banff Mountain Festivals, so it is entirely worth it. I’d be writing (and you’d be reading) forever if I wrote about every aspect of the festivals, so instead I’ve decided to give you my Top 5 Speaker Sessions this time around, in no particular order.

Banff Mountain Festivals: Top 5 Speaker Sessions

1. John Vaillant & Sasha Snow: This was an intriguing conversation between two artists that were inspired by each other’s work. Snow is a filmmaker, who made the award-winning film, Conflict Tiger, about a tiger that hunts a human, and John Vaillant is the author of The Golden Spruce, a book about the felling of a 300 year-old tree by an activist. The two met in Banff back in 2006, where Vaillant found inspiration to write another book on the man-hunting tiger in Snow’s film. He sent Snow a copy of The Golden Spruce as an artistic exchange of sorts, and the rest is history. On Thursday evening, it was a pleasure to hear Vaillant read from his book and to see the trailer of Snow’s film about The Golden Spruce.

Greg Mortenson, author of Three Cups of Tea and Stones Into Schools, speaks at the Banff Mountain Festival on November 5. © Courtesy of The Banff Centre

2. Jon Turk: An eccentric though engaging speaker, author and adventurer Jon Turk presented at this year’s Mountain Book Festival.  He spoke about his book, The Raven’s Gift, which is based on his travels deep into Siberia. With all the confidence in this world, Turk spoke about his encounter with real magic thanks to his visits to a shaman, who introduced him to the dream world. Whether you believed him or not, he had the crowd absolutely riveted and looking at ravens in a different way forever.

3. Greg Mortenson: Need I say more? If someone’s size has anything to do with the size of their heart, Greg Mortenson has the biggest heart in the world. He may be a big guy, but you can tell he’s a teddybear at heart. The founder of the Central Asia Institute and author of Three Cups of Tea and Stones Into Schools, Mortensen spends most of his time away from home educating North Americans about the important of supporting the education of children, and specifically girls, in Afghanistan and Pakistan.  My biggest takeway from his interview: “Educate a boy, and you educate an individual. Educate a girl, and you educate a community.”

4. Steven Heighton: Canadian author Steven Heighton’s book, Every Lost Country, is based on the true story of the climbers from the Cho Oyo basecamp that witnessed Chinese soldiers shooting at Tibetans attempting to cross over into Nepal. Thought he fictionalizes the story in this novel, his version is equally captivating as the original. I had the privilege of speaking with Heighton over a glass of wine in between programs, and found we have followed similar paths. As a writer, it was inspiring to speak with someone so succesful, prolific and humble. I’ll definitely read his book over the Christmas holidays.

5. Greg Child: As if Greg Child, described by some as the best all-around climber of his generation, wasn’t enough, when he was joined on stage to be interviewed by climber, author and psychologist, Geoff Powter, the combination was positively electric. I admired Child’s humility as a climber, despite all that he has achieved with his life. Powter’s questions were pointed but respectful. I found myself taking notes on his interview skills – definitely the right guy for the job. I was so happy to learn so much about a climber, and writer, from another generation that I really knew nothing about before. That’s what the Banff Mountain Festivals are all about, I think.

Where else can you see this kind of line up of speakers within the span of two days? Nowhere, I’m convinced.

© Meghan J. Ward, 2010.

Gearing Up for the Banff Mountain Festivals

One of my favourite times of year is approaching here in Banff. Every year, the Banff Mountain Festivals bring the best in mountain and adventure films and books together in one place. This year’s festival runs October 30 – November 7. The energy is exciting and inspiring as climbers, adventurers, skiers, and enthusiasts of all kinds gather to share the passion for outdoor sports and mountain culture.

I am particularly looking forward to hearing Greg Mortenson, author of Three Cups of Tea and Stones Into School, speak about his work building schools in Afghanistan and Pakistan.

This year, I have some special things to look forward to:

First off, I will be writing a dispatch from the Banff Mountain Festivals for Alpinist.com, so stay tuned for that one!

Also, I am excited to announce that I’ll be sitting on the panel for the Big Topic Breakfast Conversation: Blog, Tweet, and Twitter for Success: Writing for the Digital World with the crew from National Geographic media team on Nov. 4 at 8:45 a.m. in the Max Bell  Husky Energy Foyer.

You can read about the upcoming festivals in two articles I’ve written:

On Travel Alberta: Banff Mountain Festival Better Than Ever

On NileGuide.com: Banff Mountain Festivals: Adventure and Insight

Hope to see you there!