A couple of months back, my sister Trish sent me a link to a story she’d seen in Gawker on The Wilderness Collective,
…a company that specializes in curating artisanal manliness by coordinating expeditions that invite robust young gentlebros "to find out what [they] are made of; to be measured by the wilderness." For $2,500 ($3,500 with bike rental), you can "reclaim masculinity through adventure." Included in the cost is a videographer on-hand to record the masculine rebirth for sick Facebook videos. (Source: Gawker.)
The full Gawker article is hilarious, and should be read in conjunction with viewing the sick – make that unintentionally hilarious - video of a 334 mile motorcycle trip from Sequoia National Forest to Yosemite, which can be found here.
Nothing wrong with a bunch of guys who want to blast off for a couple of days’ getaway – who doesn’t? – but to position an excursion in which you ride to your campsite, where you’re served “craft cocktails” and artisanal food as a masculinity reclaimer… These treks, while no doubt fun, are not exactly the Lewis and Clark Expedition, on which I don’t believe either Lewis or Clark packed a French press. Or even Easy Rider. Jack Nicholson had a harder time ordering toast than the Wilderness Collectivists had getting fed.
Gawker particularly liked the part of the narrated video in which the men get to their campsite and figure out, without being told, that they have to unload cars and set things up.
Each guy wasn't told what to do but they found a job; they found a place where they could lead, a place where they could be responsible. It was almost called out of them by the situation we were in; we had to set up a camp.
Wow. Just wow.
It seems to me that it wouldn’t be a revelation to most eight year olds that they were in a situation “where they could be responsible,” let alone a bunch of adults with the jack to fork over $3.5K for an adventure weekend. Presumably, these guys have jobs and home lives where, at least once in a while, they get to lead and be responsible. Okay, I guess it’s conceivable that they’re so spoiled at home that they never have to be the ones to figure out that a load of wash needs doing or a diaper needs changing, let alone actually do something about it. But surely at work…
It almost goes with out saying that the weekend culminates with the gesture guaranteed to stem “eroding masculinity”: lighting up a cigar and having the epiphany that they’ve become a “band of brothers.” (Tell that to Harry V’s “happy few” and/or the D-Day Veterans of the 101st Airborne Division.)
Needless to say, I had to collect myself and get on over to The Wilderness Collective and let them speak for themselves:
In an age of eroding masculinity where men are depicted as weak, blundering, misguided and shallow, men need to be ever more intentional to carve out time for camaraderie, introspection, and growth.
Hmmmm. Somehow I don’t think that sipping craft cocktails does much to transform that shallow depiction.
WC is not just adventure for adventure’s sake, but rather a chance to take ahold of the truth that there’s something about the wild that unlocks the greatest potential in us.
And although I know that there are hairpin turns at Yosemite, and speed limits on said hairpin turns reading 5 MPH, I don’t think that roaring around “the wild” on a motorcycle is going to unlock someone’s “greatest potential.” (At least I hope not.)
And am I the only one fogey enough to know what the abbreviation WC stands for?
It’s almost as if the wild was designed as a proving ground for men.
Having spent a memorable night in Yosemite sleeping in the cramped front seat of Karman Ghia after observing a bear family moseying around our tent, I want to point out that it can be a proving ground for women, too.
A place to face your fears, to wake up wet, cold, shivering and warm ourselves by a fire the next morning.
What, face your fear that you won’t get your morning cuppa from a French press?
I don’t think it’s exactly Grizzly Adams time to wake up wet, cold, and shivering. That’s about half the camping experience, isn’t it?
Wilderness Collective exists to lead men on memorable expeditions that develop character and provoke courage.
And here I thought that just getting through the regular ups and down of life gives most folks – M&F alike – enough opportunities to “develop character” and “provoke courage”. Silly me.
It almost goes without saying that when you man up, you need to gear up, so WC has an online shop, where you can get yourself $245 worth of Elsinore Icon Boots. (Elsinore Icon Boots? Wasn’t Hamlet the first existentialist, and not the epitome of uneroded masculinity?) Or a $49 Jetflow Hydration Pack, which niftily merges a backpack and water bottle into one. Or a $65 Bellroy Wallet made of “premium vegetable tanned cow leather.” Not that you need your wallet for anything once you’re on your adventure. Those craft cocktails are part of the prix fixe.
Meanwhile, if you want to:
Get your motor runnin'
Head out on the highway
Looking for adventure
In whatever comes our way
WC has another trip coming up in early May, and there are still a few slots open.
Yeah, darlin'Gonna make it happen
Take the world in a love embrace
Fire all of your guns at once
And explode into space
Born to be wild, baby! Born to be wild!
---------------------------------------------------------------------------------A tip of the Pink Slip motorcycle helmet (Icon Variant Helmet: $350 at WC) to Trish.