MADE BY MOUNTAINS MINI STORY
Content Creators Camp with The Appalachian Adventure Company
There is more interest in hiking and backpacking and outdoor adventure than ever, and a new generation of stories waiting to be told. And, without doubt, the better those stories are told, the more people will be in alignment with The AAC’s mission to share the stoke of adventure while protecting the planet – a mission I’m fully behind. Together, we decided to launch Content Creators Camp (CCC) with support from MADE X MTNS and Eagle’s Nest Outfitters, to help equip new and aspiring content creators with skills and vision, forged in the mountains.
By Shannon Davis — Former Editor-in-Chief of Backpacker and Climbing Magazines; Adventure writer; Content Strategy and Marketing.
The Appalachian Adventure Company paired up with Former Backpacker and Climbing Magazine Editor-in-Chief, Shannon Davis, to host the first
Content Creators Camp
The Appalachian Adventure Company’s Content Creators Camp hosted a masterclass-level experience in outdoor content creation July 8-11, 2022, with an overnight backpacking trip on the Mountains to Sea Trail followed by a two night stay at the rustic Cabins at Sandy Mush Bald. Participants had the opportunity to hone their skills around creating outdoor product photography and telling an authentic story.
I don’t know why I wore those knee-high gaiters. It was hot and humid near the North Carolina/Georgia line, and the well trodden trail was dry. Sunscreen or DEET would have been better protection than swampy Gore-Tex. But hey — I was on the first real backpacking trip that I researched and planned myself, and we were all just trying to look like the folks in the pictures we’d seen in magazines like “Backpacker.” On my second “big” backpacking trip, we started late from the trailhead at Grayson Highlands State Park in Virginia, hiked into the dark, promptly got lost, futzed with our seemingly impossible tent and stove by headlamp, and slept only intermittently. We thought the wild ponies who came to graze nearby were bears of course….grizzlies, probably.
Every trip you take, no matter how many times you’ve left the frontcountry behind, has opportunities for mistakes and growth and awe. Those experiences and the landscape surrounding them become part of you and part of your story. My story grew from those first two bumbling outings in the Appalachian Wilderness, all the way across the nation to guiding on Mt. Rainier, a Teton Grand Traverse, summiting Denali and more. Experiences in the wilderness, both the embarrassing and epic, make your story.
Earlier this year, I was talking with my friend Steven Reinhold, founder of The Appalachian Adventure Company, about this: There is more interest in hiking and backpacking and outdoor adventure than ever, and a new generation of stories waiting to be told. And without doubt, the better those stories are told the more people will be in alignment with The AAC’s mission to share the stoke of adventure while protecting the planet – a mission I’m fully behind. Together, we decided to launch Content Creators Camp (CCC) — with support from MADE X MTNS and Eagle’s Nest Outfitters — to help equip new and aspiring content creators with skills and vision, forged in the mountains.
I’ve been in outdoor media a long time, most recently serving as Editor-in-Chief of Backpacker, and, with “content” bombarding us all day, every day, and from every angle, I know we need more of that good experiential stuff, shaped by the mountains. Those stories and images are the ones that make you need to go pack your pack and hit the trail. So we ideated CCC and planned its inaugural offering in the misty, dreamscape hills outside of one of America’s coolest and “outdoorsiest” towns: Asheville, North Carolina. Our participants ranged from guidebook authors, to social media managers, to climbing club founders. Everyone brought an open and energetic mindset to learning adventure photography and writing skills while on a killer little backpacking trip. All of us walked away buzzing with new skills, and new stories.
At its heart, what I believe outdoor content needs to do is inspire people to get outside more, remove barriers to entry, and empower folks to do it better, more comfortably, and more often. To have more fun out there. This is the stuff that makes your life better. To me, this makes content creation a service. If you’re a content creator who wants to share outdoor stoke, you’re in the service industry just like a mountain guide, and should strive to connect with people in relatable, useful, and human ways to light a little fire inside. We gather tinder and fuel, and light a match together. That’s what a content creator should strive to achieve through their storytelling.
Why? Depending on the nature of your goals and platform, you have various key performance indicators (KPI’s) and revenue to work toward, of course. But, beyond the metrics, we do it because we believe in the power of the outdoors to change lives. Outdoor experiences make stress go down and smiles go up. Friendships deepen, and your cardio gets a kick in the pants. We also do it because folks who get outside grow to care more about the land and to learn more about its history and best means for conserving it. We care more about nutrition and how best to fuel an adventure. We care about how our gear is made. This stuff that happens in the backcountry all translates to myriad frontcountry purchasing and ballot-box decisions that can change the world.
How do you pull off that grandiose stuff? Well, you can come along on next year’s CCC and get immersed in ideas with which to fill your bag of tricks. Also, you can do one simple thing: go have real experiences in the wilderness. Go and make mistakes, and learn how not to make them next time. Learn for yourself just when you’ll need to rock gaiters, and when you won’t. Go and have successes, and learn how to have more. Become a subject matter expert. Go and find out how you are made by these mountains.
The first Content Creators Camp crew from left to right; Danielle Johnson, Avery Hayden, Rose Goodbread, Jessie Johnson, Shannon Davis, Lee Trebotich and Steven Reinhold
The Appalachian Adventure Company was founded to share the stoke of adventure while protecting and preserving our planet. Founder Steven Reinhold, a native of Waynesville, NC who now resides in Sylva, NC, is an avid explorer and adventure philanthropist who has pursued his passions around the globe. He created the #trashtag cleanup effort, has represented Big City Mountaineers’ Summit for Someone Program and served as Backpacker Magazine’s Brand Ambassador. Steven founded The Appalachian Adventure Company in 2014 after climbing several of America’s most iconic peaks with the industry’s leading guide services. On those original expeditions he realized that mountain guides are the coolest people on the planet and that he found his best self while climbing mountains. The AAC was founded to share the stoke of adventure with everyone! Find out more at TheAACSite.com
Shannon Davis is a former Editor-in-Chief of Backpacker and Climbing. His family tree hails back to the mountains of WNC. He now lives in Lyons, Colorado on the banks of the North Saint Vrain Creek with his son, doggo, and a few chickens.