We are just one week away from our annual camping trip: #5DadsGoWild
Just one year ago five blogging, social media influencing, photo taking Dads met for the first time in the middle of the forest. Literally. A little insane? Yeah, that's what we all thought.
Technically, it all began online in a Facebook group. From there we formed a group chat and began talking on a daily basis. We began following each others' stories and journey online. We encouraged each other, and we not only "liked" each others' content, but we would private message each other and talk about it as well. And then the weekend in September arrived.
We all got into our Ford-sponsored vehicles and drove deep into Manning Park in southern British Columbia. It was there and only there as I emerged from my Ford Explorer that I met these four other guys in real life for the first time.
What a weird, risky, intimidating and slightly scary way to make four new friends-but it worked! On top of all of this, two of us had never gone camping in our adult lives before. Me, and Michael. I had nothing! I didn't own a sleeping bag, a tent, an air mattress, a cooler, a light and obviously I didn't own the manual on how to do the camping.
Somehow I survived. And not only did I survive, but I actually had a great time and made four new friends that I've talked with virtually every day since then. We even decided to do it again! I remember a year ago, as we were all packing up and about to go in separate directions the comment was made, "we should do this again next year".
How often have you said that with NO INTENT of ever doing it again. But we meant it. And we're doing it. Next weekend we're all meeting up again. Ford loved that we were brave enough (AKA stupid enough) to drive back out into the middle of nowhere, so hearing about the size of my family - even though I'm leaving them behind - they gave me an Expedition this year to test out.
Many of the other sponsors from last year are are on board with us again and we acquired some new ones too. Altitude Sports and Coleman hooked me up with all my core gear this year. A tent, sleeping bag and air mattress... so I'm hoping my chances of survival are even better than they were last year. Others include McSweeney's Premium Jerky, Stanley, House of Knives, Blue Moose Coffee (who heard I don't drink coffee, so they are hooking me up with a custom non-coffee beverage package) and more!!
But most importantly next weekend is going to be about five extremely engaged dads leaving the noise of our life behind for a weekend, and bonding as friends... as fellow Dads. It will be a chance to sit around and not be worried about diapers, play dates, chicken nuggets, school field trip forms and screen time. We're going to write blogs. We're going to take pictures. We're going to get into a boat... maybe. And I'm going to attempt to set up a tent (with a little help from my friends).
If you want to join us... follow our accounts on Instagram, Twitter and Facebook. Read our blogs, and search for the hashtag #5DadsGoWild wherever hashtags can be found. I have provided all the links to these places in everyone's brief bio listed below. So, keep reading to meet the cast of this epic adventure!
From the moment I met Stephen, his larger than life personality and ideas blew me away. This guy didn't JUST bring a tent to last years camping trip... he assembled an epic 8 person palace that he resided in for the weekend. Then for the meal he was responsible for, he insisted on setting a world record for being the first person to make Hot Pot - a Chinese method of cooking a gourmet meal - while camping!
While not camping or looking for a his infamous Geoduck, Stephen is a brilliant content creator and digital marketer, a coffee addict like I've never seen the likes of before, he's obsessed with technology and gadgets and a proud Dad to three adorable and super successful kids. And his Instagram account proves that, as he is quick show the world all of these things in a captivating way.
Last year TWO of the five dads had never gone camping before in their adult lives. Me... and this guy! So, what does the group decide would be a good idea? To put us together in a borrowed tent and see if we survive. What could possibly go wrong?
Well we did survive and I'm glad we were put together, because Michael is one of the most genuine guys I have ever met, and his sense of humor cracks me up. He is a full time Freelance Writer, Professional Blogger, Published Author and Proud Father. He's fueled by caffeine and Wi-Fi; which was funny because we had no Wi-Fi. His vibrant and fun Instagram account is filled with eye-popping photos of life with his daughter mixed in with cultural experiences and food.
Maybe it was because we both have twins... maybe it was because we're both teacher - he's a secondary school teacher - maybe it was because if it weren't for him I wouldn't have survived or had any gear last year... or maybe it was none of the above, but I connected with Stacey from the moment I got out of my Ford Explorer last year. This guy is the real deal when it comes to outdoor adventures.
I remember him bringing reality into our social media sponsored weekend. His stories were fascinating, many of which ended in him admitting he forgot to post any pictures online because he was too busy living it. He claims he's not as savvy as the rest of us when it comes to Instagram and the like, but he's got nothing to be embarrassed at. His Instagram account and blog are filled with adventures, amazing food, travel through the Fraser Canyon and his perspective on being a Dad.
James R.C. Smith
James is the founder and creator of the #5DadsGoWild camping trip. He is also a Senior Brand and Social Marketing Specialist, "Captain Daddy" to his adorable daughter and a proud glasses wearer! James has a phenomenal eye for detail, enormous passion, and a very unique sense of humour. He was perhaps a bit quieter than the rest last year, but that's simply because he was so busy taking it all in. Simply put, this trip wouldn't exist without him. A camping trip is not a complex idea, but he was the only one who put action behind his thoughts and turned it into a reality.
His Instagram account which is filled with his amazing photography is second to none and continues to grow by thousands every day. I don't know how he does it - so go follow him. Jump on the band wagon, you won't regret it. His blogs are well thought out and informative and he even has a podcast too! If you're looking for quality content from another Canadian Dad... look no further!
Dale Allen Berg
And then there's me. To be honest I don't even know why I was invited on this trip to begin with. I had never gone camping before, and I had the smallest social media following - kinda the two prerequisites of going. But I'm glad I got in, because it was a weekend I'll never forget. As I stated above, I arrived with NOTHING! If it was not for borrowed items from the other guys (primarily Stacey) I would not have survived. I'm super excited that our sponsors are taking care of me this year, and hopefully I have an even better experience in my own sleeping bag and tent. Who knows, I may never show my face.
Unlike all the other Dads, I'm the only one without a job. I am a full time stay-at-home Dad looking after my three kids, two of whom have diagnosed special needs. My Instagram, social media and blog have grown dramatically since last year as I've found my voice sharing what my life looks like from home while drawing content from the daily challenges that occur being a special needs parent. I even won the 2019 Canadian Dad Blogger of the Year award. So I'm ready for this adventure.