Make Your New Year’s Resolution to Have More Adventure!

If you’re considering starting an Adventure Club, but you’re not sure when, January is a great month to kick-off.  Unlike other New Year’s Resolutions this one is easy to keep.

Because of the holidays in November and December, those are hard months to start. Once you get this ball rolling you’ll want to keep the momentum. In January people have slowed down and they’re mentally ready to try something new.

Plant the seed now that you’ll start January. By December, you’ll have thought of a great activity. (Or if you want ideas, feel free to contact me.) By January,  you’ll be jumping out of your skin wanting it to happen. Then, when January comes, you’ll have started the year off feeling successful with friends and fun. Not a bad goal.

Don’t Make Me Laugh

Imagine you have free time. . . and you’re with a friend. When your friend says, “What do you want to do today. . . “ And you reply, “I’m up for anything,” Do you REALLY mean it? Does that mean you’ll do anything you usually do, or something more?

When participants in “The Adventure Club,” sign up each month for their mystery activity, they really mean, “I’m up for ANYTHING.” Without knowing in advance, adventurers have shown up to go blacksmithing; learn a minute of choreography for a Bollywood musical;  and play a song  together on the steel drums. Sounds awesome, huh? Maybe you have to step out of your comfort zone a little. . . That’s the point.

Then there are times when you get thrown into the deep end of the discomfort pool. I got to experience that last month, when our Adventure Club activity was “Laughter Yoga.”

Now, I really do think I’m an up for anything kind of girl. But, this drizzly, cold Sunday morning followed a late night party at my house.  The party was alcohol free, but when I woke up in the morning I felt suspiciously like I had a  hang-over.  I wasn’t worried, though – Adventure Club had a way of chasing away any pain.

Once we reached our location and the activity was announced, there was a mixture of responses. Some people looked nervous, others were excited, and still others still weren’t clear about what they were in for. I think I fell in the third category, leaning toward nervous.

If you’re not familiar with it, Laughter Yoga is a practice involving prolonged voluntary laughter. It’s  based on the belief that forced laughter provides the same physiological and psychological benefits as spontaneous laughter. Laughter yoga is done in groups, with eye contact and playfulness between participants. Forced laughter soon turns into real and contagious laughter. At least, that’s how it’s supposed to work.

So, how do you work yourself into laughter? Here’s an example of one activity . . . We would pretend to get on a moped and turn the handle to start it while saying, “Ha Ha Ha Ha,” in the rhtyhm of a moped starting. Then, when it got going, you said, “Ha Ha Ha Ha” instead of “putt putt” while you drove your imaginary moped around. Or, you pretended to step on hot sand and said, “Ha, Ha, Ha” instead of “Hot, Hot, Hot.”

So, there we were . . . 20 women driving our pretend mopeds around in a living room. Now that I look back, I think, how could that not have been hilarious? Oh yeah, I was mortified at the time. We moved from one activity to another, to another and as we did, some women were starting to crack up . . . a couple were laughing hysterically. Three quarters of the way into the activity and my headache was starting to be a comfort because it felt sane. I didn’t even want to let go of my inhibitions and be foolish and have fun. I wanted to be at home. Asleep.

The last activity of the experience was the “highlight.” Everybody lay down with their head in the center of the room and laughed for 3-5 minutes. I have to give it to my group. They got what I didn’t. It was a full eight minutes of laughter before we stopped because several women just couldn’t. I took that time to get a little shut eye, all the while breathing out a little ha ha ha ha. I’m no doctor, but I think my body could tell the difference between laughter and that poor excuse for breathing with noise.

At the end of the event we all went our separate ways. I don’t have any scars from it, and in fact I’m glad I tried it. Since then, I’ve had women tell me how valuable that experience was and how they’re going to pursue it on their own. Others talk about it and immediately fall into laughter. In fact, that’s exactly what I do when I remember it. I’m sure there’s some health benefit to the delayed laughter, as well.

One thing that experience did not do was make me less of an “I’m up for anything” person. Adventure Club is happening again soon, and I’ll be there anticipating great things. I hope it’s not too stressful. Maybe we’ll just have to jump out of a plane or something.

Adventure Club Guidelines — For Organizers

These are the guidelines we use for preparing an adventure in Humboldt. They could be easily translated to suit another club.

  • If you have an activity in mind, ask to reserve a month with the club’s coordinator. Sometimes it could be as much as three months in advance.
  • Choose activities that challenge participants to learn or try a variety of activities.
  • You may teach something you know, or plan an activity that’s new to you.
  • You may invite a co-organizer to help with your event.
  • KEEP THE ACTUAL ACTIVITY A MYSTERY!
  • Keep activity costs under $35/person. Ideally, they should cost between $15-$25/month.
  • Once or twice a year, the group can collectively decide on adventures that cost up to $100/person – allowing for adventurous activities like rafting trip, canopy tour, or a day trip on the Skunk Train. (Or something like that ) These will be non-mystery events.
  • Post an event to Facebook about three weeks prior to your event, so people can schedule their day and confirm participation. Include the date, time, cost, what to wear, and any special physical requirements.
  • If there is a group size limit, and more than one section is needed, create a poll – in a comment within the event – with the different times. Have people select which time they will attend.
  • Find out how you will pay for the activity. Usually, it is sufficient for everybody to bring their payment to the event. If you need to pay in advance, work out a way to collect from the participants. (Maybe open a PayPal account?) We haven’t had this problem, yet. If you need to make sure you have a specific number show to cover the cost for a workshop, be sure to let people know that they will need to pay even if they don’t show for the activity.
  • Update “where to meet” info on the Facebook Event for participants two days in advance. To do this, edit the event location. (Usually it just says something like “TBA” or “Eureka.”)
  • Bring nametags to the event. (Or call Susan and make sure she brings them)
  • Get a group photo to post on your Group Facebook page!

Testimonials

As someone new to the community, Adventure Club has been a terrific opportunity to meet people while learning about the area and fun activities. I have enjoyed touring oyster nurseries, learning to Bollywood dance, learning Laughing Yoga, china painting, exploring a marine lab and much more. It’s a blast and makes networking a snap.

Joyce Lopes, Vice President Humboldt State University

I very much enjoyed my first Adventure Club experience. The Laughing Yoga and Improv event was fun and helped relax a very type A individual (me). It was also a great way to network with women in the community. I will definitely participate in other Adventures. Susan Tissot, Executive Director, Humboldt Botanical Garden.

Susan Tissot, Executive Director, Humboldt Botanical Garden Foundatiion

Adventure Club is a treat I give myself. I wouldn’t otherwise try so many new things, or invite people I like but don’t know well, or people I haven’t met yet, to go with me. Sometimes things I want to do go onto a “someday” list, or I think “Who would want to do that with me?” With Adventure Club, there is something new every month, and a changing group to adventure with. I got to share my passion for steel drumming, invite lots of pals to go a beer and cheese pairing (local products! funny beer professor!), try Bollywood dancing, and more. Who knows what adventure awaits next time?

Harriet Watson,Teacher/Maker/Shy Person/ and Adventurer

I love Adventure Club.  I meet wonderful women and laugh and play like a child.  Not knowing the adventure until minutes before the event is the best fun.

Marsa Jordan, Adventurer

Adventure Club Fun and Challenging Activities for Women with Limited Time and Money

Before Adventure Club, there were three main reasons I hesitated trying new things:

 

  1. Like so many women my age: I’m busy. I didn’t have a lot of time to make a commitment to try something new, like take a class or join a group.
  2. I didn’t have extra money for classes, or for the equipment needed to try new things.
  3. I liked the idea of trying new things, but not really doing it. When given the choice to try something outside of my comfort zone, I could always find an excuse not to.

 

Adventure Club started as an idea for a few friends to encourage ourselves to push ourselves to step out of our comfort zone without making a big commitment. At first, I thought of the idea as a recreational program through an organization, like a community center or parks and rec, but it got too complicated.  Simplicity was the key.  This would be like a book club with activities.

My friend and I decided we would commit to putting something together with some other friends. We would make a date once a month to do a mystery activity. Our only rules were that it couldn’t be over $50 (It’s since changed to $35), and it couldn’t require special physical strength or stamina without notice. At that time, I thought I would be planning all of the activities and occasionally somebody would relieve me. That turned out to be no problem at all.  

As we started talking about it, friends asked if they could bring their friends on the activity. What we thought would be six to eight people we wanted to include, ended up a much larger group. In the end, we had about 20 people in our Facebook Group.  Thirteen participants, including four that I didn’t even know, came to our first activity.

That was fencing. Most of the people I knew (including me) didn’t even know we had a fencing academy in Humboldt.  I don’t know why I got it in my head as an activity, but I was curious so I googled it. (That’s a great way to find instructors for ideas you have.)  I called the owner of the academy, and explained that we didn’t want a class, but a one day workshop. I told him we would have about 10 people participating. For many businesses, they have to put a lot of time and effort into recruiting participants, so somebody delivering 10 participants with no work was an easy sell. He opened his studio on a Sunday and charged us a nominal fee. 

Some people loved it. Some people hated it. Everybody was pretty excited to tell people that was how they spent their Sunday.  The companionship was a surprising side-effect. We didn’t know each other, but by putting ourselves in a vulnerable situation (and we were ALL in the same situation), everybody seemed more open to meeting new people, too.  

After that event, I found that I never had to plan another activity again, if I didn’t want to. The more people learned about the group and joined, the more they wanted to share their own interests or plan activities for them.

Adventure Club started in April 2013, and we’ve had an adventure every month. Today, we have about 150 members in the Facebook Group, although only had 61 of those have attended an event. Our average attendance size is between twelve and twenty people. A majority of participants have attended more than one event, although most will miss for several months at a time depending on their personal schedules.

We’ve gone kayaking, brewed beer, took a chocolate class, painted pottery and we even played Cops and Robbers in the middle of the night!  We’ve also made some great friends, and networking connections.

Adventure Club has been successful in serving its purpose, to get us to try things outside of our comfort zone, and more.

Make Any Activity An Adventure: Just Add Mystery

I always encourage my kids to try new things.  I, however, have never been one to veer from a comfortable diet of work, kids, chores, television and reading.  I’m not saying my life was unfulfilling. It was  just a little unchallenging.  I was always the person to stand on the sidelines and watch while everybody had fun.

Over the past few years, I’ve been making efforts to try new things. I started small. Drinks with colleagues after work – where we talked about things other than work — was a first step.  Then came short walks with a friend that became longer and longer until I walked a half-marathon.

Then, last year, I conceived an idea. Life has been one adventure after another since then.

This idea was called, “Adventure Club.”

It started with a plan for 6-8 friends to get together once a month to do a new activity. Ideally, it would be something that would push us just outside of our comfort zone.  An important element was that the event had to be a mystery. Somebody would plan it. Three weeks prior to the event, they let the group know the time, the cost and what to wear.  A day or two before the event, they let the others know where to meet.  It’s the mystery, I think, that’s made all the difference.

Let’s just say the idea caught on. What started with a list of about 20 women in April 2013 has turned into a Facebook Group with over 100 women only a year later. This is not a group of women with shared interests in a group. The commonality with the women is our willingness to just try something new.

Most recently, a local chocolatier from Drakes Glenn Creations, taught us about chocolate. We learned about the history of chocolate, a little history of the chocolate business and we got to taste different kinds of chocolate. We also got to work with different kinds of tempered chocolate to make a dozen chocolate covered strawberries.  What’s not to love about that?

Chocolate is a pretty safe bet for finding an activity that all people love.  Activities are not always so universally pleasing. The point is to challenge ourselves.

We once had an event that included Oyster tasting, after a boat tour of the local oyster beds in our bay. I would guess that at least a quarter of the 18 people who attended would have passed if somebody asked, “Do you want to go to the oyster bar?”  I talked to quite a few people who had never tried, or admittedly didn’t like, oysters. I didn’t meet one person who was sorry she attended that day, though. I believe every person tried at least one oyster, in the spirit of the activity.

The beauty of the mystery is that you can talk yourself out of something you don’t like — or something you think you don’t like.

The second benefit of the mystery is that, you can just as easily talk yourself out of something you DO like. If you know you love kayaking, and that’s the event, you might think, “I’ll do it another time, so it’s no big deal if I miss it.”

That’s the thing about people – at least people like me.  There’s always a reason to not do something.

But, here’s the thing about a mystery event. It’s like a gift, and you don’t get it unless you show up.  You may not always love your gift, but the thought and joy that goes into picking it out – as well as friends at the party where you get it — makes it special.  Since you’ve allowed yourself to be open to the experience — if you don’t like oysters, or brewing beer, or wearing those awful fencing helmets — you have still either learned something, or you can say you’ve tried it. Only a week after learning to brew beer, I was able to participate in a conversation about the affects of using wild yeast when brewing beer. This was especially surprising because I don’t drink beer.

Another reason Adventure Club works so well is that people love to share their passion.  People have been happy to take on the planning duties, making it a simple project to keep going.  It creates a truly eclectic set of activities, and relieves the burden of always having new ideas from any one person.

And, since I’ve opened myself up to these activities – and these wonderful people – I have thought of activities that I want to happen whether or not they come up through the club.   If I see something that sounds interesting, where I would have always found a reason to say no before, I say, “Yes.”

Want to learn to play poker? Yes.  Would you move a high school student from another country into your house? Absolutely! How about attending a canning workshop? That sounds awesome. Want to run a 5K? Why not?

You may be interested to know that I’ve pretty much stunk at everything I’ve tried.

I’m not the most talented black-smither, or the fleetest fencer, and I still have my doubts that I’ll be able to run for 3 miles.  My skill was making Adventure Club happen – and having that to fall back on allows me to be awkward everywhere else.

 

 

 

May 2014 Adventure — Chocolate Class at Drakes Glenn Creations

Chocolate Adventure Chocolate Covered Strawberries

 

The exciting thing about the May Adventure for me was that it was an Adventure that planned itself. Sandra Nakashima, at Drakes Glenn Creations, wants to add teaching to her chocolate business. Her kitchen is next to my office, so she came to see if she could use our Adventure Club as a test group. She did a great job with plenty of room for the twelve participants who made it to the event. We started by tasting chocolate, then talking about the history.  The class ended with an opportunity to dip strawberries in different kinds of chocolates. . . in an informal setting where we could work and talk. We always like to have a good amount of time to get to learn about each other.