Last Wednesday afternoon I headed out of sweaty London to rural Sussex and walked into a small woodland and the home of wild cooking school, Hunter Gather Cook. Nick was busy rubbing down a newly built kitchen table while Dave finished dabbing a clay oven in the school’s kickstarter funded treehouse. I’d only just arrived but already London seemed a long-time ago.
Soon a well-known wonderer rambled into the clearing to join us. Alastair Humphreys, lifestyle adventurer-in-chief (he always camps at business conferences), has been extolling the virtues of what he calls microadventures: hit the refresh button on our busy lives by going on an overnight camp under the stars. Tonight was just another meeting for him.
Next into the woods were the escape boys. Rob & Dom are two of the founders of London’s most exciting career startup: Escape the City. Together with they’re rapidly growing community (currently 150k) they’re on a mission to unleash frustrated corporates into fulfilling careers — whether that be startups, dream jobs or big adventures.
Soon we had a fire going and two large legs of local lamb roasting on a homemade spit, basted with delicious foraged herbs and oil with a rosemary brush. The meeting room was set. Nick then started to show-off by infusing foraged meadow sweet into a martini! Yes, we sat around the fire that Wednesday evening sipping wild cocktails and watching out roast dinner cook to perfection.
But what about the conversation? Our projects of course. Frequently meetings I have in the world’s urban caffeine-hubs are great to get a conversation going but rarely get to the meat of the matter. Around the fire-pit, the most ancient of meeting places ideas, reflections and connections are almost always more valuable. As much as a coffee-culture would like to think they sell ‘experiences’, its hard to compete with this.
The findings of our meeting were as follows:
1. Roasting legs of lamb over an open fire beats burger and fries in an expensive London pub
2. Foraged meadowsweet martinis beats £5 pints of Staropramen
3. Fireside idea sharing beats Starbucks blue-sky thinking
4. …and waking up in the trees clears the mind for the day ahead
Investing in experiences that provide focus
We’re not the only ones escaping on a mid-week microadventure to top-up the creativity levels or detox.
Through Tribewanted we’ve exploring this with curious travellers for over 8 years. If there is one theme that weaves through all the experiences we’ve been part of on our off-grid community projects from Fiji to Sierra Leone to Umbria, its that people are looking for a feeling that, for a moment or two at least, they belong there. To that place. With those people. At that time.
Only yesterday, perhaps the business pin-up du jour, Airbnb, relaunched their identity with the headline: ‘Belong Anywhere’.
The interesting thing for me is that now this isn’t just something we do outside of work. We feel like we’re part of a bigger community who are experimenting in work and life design not just so we can enjoy a fireside martini or two but are finding that these experiences are helping us achieve our goals — be they sales conversions or sleeping in a treehouse.
Its no wonder that we’re seeing the start of a response to the digital city life that surrounds so many of us. It doesn’t feel like a rejection, rather a recognition that we need to balance things a little better.
And of course there are a bunch of startups emerging to provide these experiences themselves…
9 upcoming outdoor meetups, camps & digital detoxes…(or you can just take your team on a microadventure)
A digital detox to get away from it all. August 1-3 Brecon Beacons, Wales
Escape to the Woods
A microfestival for inspiring career change. September 5-7, 1hr from London
The Good Life Camp
Summer camp for aspiring world-shakers. September 11-14, 90 minutes from NYC
The Happy Startup Camp
Unplug. Get Inspired. Have fun. September 19-21, 1hr from London
Escape to Umbria
3 days of dreaming, planning, wine & pasta. October 17-20, Italy
An entrepreneurial time-out to disconnect from the all the noise and reconnect to what’s truly important. October 12-24, Bali
Getaway for change-makers. November 6-9, Mexico
The Do Lectures
Inspiring speakers, an engaged class of attendees and a beautiful location. Wales, USA, Australia.
Digital detox adult summer camps. Anderson Vally, California