People don't think that I'm the type of person who can camp but I have a very strong, (some might say) overdeveloped survival instinct.
In grade nine self-defense class, when the padded instructor lumbered threateningly towards me, I punched him in the ONE place I was told not to. Not there you sickos! His face was off limits because it was only protected by a thin sheet of plastic but when you have a large man coming at you…you react without thinking!
One time, when someone jumped out at me during a ghost tour of a cemetery in Scotland, I (to my everlasting shame) pulled my friend in front of me like a human shield! True story.
This is why I refuse to spend my Halloween at Screemers where people chase you dressed up like zombies. Knowing that my corgi-like legs wouldn’t get me very far, I’d choose fight over flight and punch the first “zombie” that came at me in the throat.
So when my travelling buddy invited me to San Francisco to participate in the Pursuit Series hosted by Camelbak and The Outbound Collective, while I was fairly certain that I'd be pretty inept at most of the activities, I knew at the very least that I probably wouldn't die. Maybe. Like, 70/30. Ish.
So, what IS Pursuit Series?
The way I described it was that it’s an adventure camp for adults. Camelbak and The Outbound Collective joined forces to host a 3-day outdoor event where you could try a plethora of activities guided by world-class instructors.
From daredevil mountain biking and boundary-pushing rock climbing to chill yoga sessions and valuable skills like wilderness first aid and basecamp cooking, the weekend was brimming with adrenaline and adventure.
After a jam-packed day, you could relax by the campfire, listening to live music in the Pursuit Village while toasting marshmallows for gooey s’mores and socialize with new friends in the Pinterest-worthy tipi lounge with a boozy drink in hand.
Where was the event held?
The event I attended was in Sanborn County Park, burrowed in the Santa Cruz Mountains and approximately 50 miles (or an hour’s drive) south of San Francisco, but the inaugural event was in Salt Lake City. A lot of the events were either within the park and surrounding forestry under towering redwoods or nearby like at Lexington Reservoir for water sports like stand up paddleboarding and kayaking.
What were your favourite parts of the Pursuit Series?
The entire weekend was unlike anything I’d ever participated in before! Prior to the trip, I was really excited and my hopes were high, but there were a lot of aspects of the event that shockingly exceeded my expectations.
The 10 Most Shocking Things About Pursuit Series Weekend In Sanborn County Park
01/ THE WELCOME KIT
By far the coolest swag bag I’ve ever received, instead of disposable shopping bags, each attendee got a legit Camelbak backpack, complete with reservoir pack. Perfect for convenient hydrating while hiking or rock climbing! There were also high quality coffee tumblers to encourage sustainable, eco-friendly practices while filling them up with cold brew tea or coffee.
02/ CUSTOMIZED ART MUGS
The coffee tumblers were not only convenient for filling up with your favourite beverage throughout the day but provided the ideal blank canvas for the event’s resident artists. Scribble on a post-it, either detailing your colour preferences or a theme, and return to a personalized piece of art. It was such a cool idea to walk away with a personalized memento from the event. Loved my “Jungle Wild” tumbler by Ryan Petersen!
03/ TOP NOTCH ACTIVITIES
Considering that the activities were meant as a trial, as suitable for beginners as well as the experienced, the were surprisingly hardcore, thorough, and well-organized. Luxury, air-conditioned shuttle buses transferred us to pursuits outside of the park like kayaking and surfing and the instructors were knowledgeable, enthusiastic, and you could tell they loved what they were teaching. Even the skills classes like building vertical containers (plants) and basecamp cooking were really interesting!
04/ THE SPONSORS WEREN’T SPONSOR-Y
As a modern, savvy consumer, I tune out annoying, sponsored content but in the context of the Pursuit Series, it was a relevant way to see the products in action. It was cool to see how the Oru Kayaks folded out like origami so they were easier for efficient transportation. Clif Bars and Red Bulls were in abundance to provide necessary fuel for active schedules. After slipping during a hike, I visited the Altra tent and traded in my ineffectual sneakers for an insanely comfy pair with tons of grip and I didn’t even have to sign anything!
05/ BADGE SYSTEM
Clif bars had little badges made that had symbols on buttons that represented each activity like a lotus for yoga or crossed paddles for stand up paddleboarding. It reminded me of the badges I collected when I was in Girl Guides that I felt such pride in earning. It was a smart way of gameifying the event, motivating people to try as many things as possible with a little souvenir that they could walk away with.
06/ THE MEAL SPREAD
This was not your average camp food! There was a variety of good food to be had, including vegetarian AND gluten-free options as well as an abundance of dessert options for those with a sweet tooth. Nothing was too heavy but provided energy for a busy day and attained the right balance of nutritious and delicious with Clif Bars aplenty to fill in the gaps between meals. All meals were included in the pass!
07/ OPEN BAR
Yes, open bar! After a hectic day, jam-packed with activities, you’re sure as hell going to look forward to relaxing at happy hour in the Pursuit Village. The best thing about it is that it’s not actually a mere hour but lasts from 5 - 11pm and you don’t have to worry about fumbling for cash because drinks are included in your pass! You could choose sparkling grapefruit cocktails made with Tito’s Vodka (an event sponsor), Laguinitas beer, or a selection of wines.
08/ THE WASHROOM SITUATION
I’ve heard horror stories of bathroom breaks during camping involving poorly dug holes and dry leaves so I had low expectations for this 400 person outdoor event. Not only were the bathrooms well-attended and clean but were situated in prime locations around camp. They even had fancy trailers for showering that were kept spotless, complete with shampoo and soap.
09/ SLEEPING IN A TENT
I haven’t slept in a tent since I was a kid but I knew enough that sleeping on the ground would be uncomfortable. Honestly, I was so exhausted from exerting myself at activities all day in 100 degree heat and socializing/drinking all evening that I zonked out the minute I lay my head on the bag of clothes that I was using as a pillow. Also, while you can’t see anyone through your tent, they are still super thin! I could hear someone ten tents over fidgeting while waiting to fall asleep.
10/ MIX AND MINGLE
Pursuit Series was nothing like the summer camps of my childhood with mini mean-girls-in-training, unleashing random acts of emotional terrorism upon me. Everyone was exactly like the kind of person you’d expect to meet at an event like this – friendly, vibrant, and ready direct you to the nearest restroom. Despite being exhausted from a full day, we’d chat till the sky was bright with stars, wandering from campfire to campfire, toasting to new friendships and an awesome weekend.
- Bring a pool float or yoga mat to make sleeping on the ground more comfortable
- Wear a lot of sunscreen and bug spray to protect from midday rays and pests
- Stay hydrated…it’s hot as balls!
- The weather changes from hour to hour so bring layers
- Bring shoes with a grip for hiking
- Take it slow with new activites and know your limits
- Bring a headlamp to help navigate the campsite at night
People were pretty surprised that I travelled all the way from Toronto just for a quick 5 day trip (the even was 3 days) but I feel like I exerted myself more in 3 days that I would in a month! Definitely looking forward to future events.