The Third San Juan Island Leading X


Leading X: Everglades is just a few short days away. Before we ship out to Florida for our last Leading X of 2015, we'd like to share a video from our third San Juan Island Leading X!

The San Juan Islands were the first destination for the the inaugural Leading X week-long excursion three years ago. In 2012, we circumnavigated Orcas Island and banked 56 miles of paddling and navigating currents. Back then, most of the crew was from Oregon (shout out to the lone Idahoan) but this year saw folks from the very edges of the map. Adventurers converged from Pennsylvania, New York, Seattle,  and even two brothers from Chevak, Alaska (They are the only two people affected with a bleeding disorder in their village). 

Despite coming together from very different parts of the world, the group gelled together and disembarked a team. Check out the video is below.

Please forgive the low lighting on some of the interviews. We had to shoot during sunset one night. No electricity (besides a few batteries) in the backcountry means no lighting kits, and sometimes the weather dictates the schedule. 





Be Brave,



This is what competent multi-tasking looks like. Eric, from Comprehensive Health Education Services (CHES), is demonstrating a self infusion while rappelling from a 60 foot climbing tower during the debut of our new program: LEVERAGE. 

LEVERAGE is a week-long experience for young adults affected by hemophilia with inhibitors. GutMonkey collaborated with CHES to bring a new kind of adventure to the inhibitor community. The week included zip-lining, rappelling, rafting, whittling, fishing, leadership and goal setting sessions,  and a very cushy campout. Our goal was to design an experience that not only accommodated folks with inhibitors, but adapted to meet every foreseeable need and leverage the participant's unique position. 

Click on the picture above to view some photos from Kevin Finkle (aka Crooked Branch), and learn more about Leverage.  


Be brave,



Green River Float

The Green River Expedition is about a week away and we at GutMonkey are on the look out for the spontaneous, the wild, and the adventuresome folks who will fill out this trip's crew. Now's you chance to drop everything, and escape to slot canyons the color of sunsets and lingering conversations around the campfire. Life on the river is calling.

The Leading X Green River Expedition is a week-long, immersive, leadership development program put on by GutMonkey for adults in the bleeding disorder community. It takes place October 18-24, 2015. 

Click below for information, to get in touch, and to register for your adventure

Be brave,


The Everglades

Endangered, exotic, and one of our Leading X destinations for 2015. Mac Stone demonstrates the Everglades' beautiful flora and, often misunderstood, wildlife in this stunning TEDx Talk. 

Feeling inspired? Now consider, especially if you live in a chilly climate, that this trip takes place December 6th - 12th.  Learn more about Leading X and sign up for your adventure by following the links below. While you're there, check out the Green River Leading X trip taking place in October. 

Leading X 2015


We're psyched to announce a change in our Leading X programs for 2015. The Green River canoe expedition in epic Utah, is now open to all ages 18 and up! The trip takes place October 18-24, 2105. Click below to check it out and apply.

Here's even more information about this incredible destination from our partners at Breakwater Expeditions.

To get the flavor of a Leading X trip, check out the newly posted videos from our Upper Missouri River, Montana expedition. Watch the long video for a  few interview bitlets from our exceptional participants and guides. Or check out the short video if you just need to kill a minute while you ride an elevator or toast a bagel. 

Long Cut

Short Cut


See you on the river! 


Be brave,


Leading Edge is Game On!

Hello Mighty Monkey Minions! 

GUTMONKEY was hit the ground running into the first three Leading Edge Programs of 2015!


Big Dog and Jacose flew to Michigan to Pilot this year's Leading Edge: "MasterMind" 

It's safe to say that the GutMonkey crew are seasoned travelers. (flying monkeys, anyone? ruby slippers, etc..) So, one of our favorite parts of settling into a hotel room, remote woodsy cabin, what-have-you, is the "scenic reveal!" This is that very special moment after we, drop a heavy duty duffel (encumbered with 50 lbs of rubber chickens, buzz rings, and other fanciful play things), saunter over to the nearest window, and pull back the curtains; thus revealing whatever scenic vista that particular locale has to offer. Will it be the Las Vegas strip? An truly awesome Montana mountain range? Boreal forest, rich with birch and spruce? or the white sands of Oahu? 

This is the scenic reveal that met BD and J in Michigan:

"These curtains look normal enough. Let;s see what we have here."

"Why, this window doesn't face outside at all. It's a door directly to open courtyard within the hotel! Let's see what folks are up to."

"Gasp! A Paint & Pour! and just inches from our room!" 

That was just the first of many happy surprises that this year's inaugural Leading Edges delivered. More Pics and stories are coming soon from NEHA and Utah! 

Happy Trails,


Life Profit & Micro-Adventures

In the waning sunlight of a busy Saturday afternoon, I checked the last task off my to-do list. With twilight closing in, and predictable patterns clawing at me to turn on netflix or hulu, I decided to, instead, bank some life profit. Specifically, in the form of a sunset hike up to Angel's Rest in the Gorge. Check out the timelapse video to get a sense of the evening. 

Taking on this excursion meant a rush pack job and hiking down in the dark. (Of course I took the ten essentials and knew the trail well). I think that just added to the novelty.

Life profit. It's a phrase that gets thrown around the GutMonkey HQ a lot these days. The theory posits that people remember novel experiences, and "compress" repetitive tasks. Here's a TED Talk about it.  (Feel free to take this presenter with a grain of salt, but the message rings through). 


We invite people outside of their comfort zones with every activity we offer. We use sea kayaking expeditions, ropes courses, and mousetraps. We even find ways to use a large paper pad and easel to create a novel experience.

We do this in an effort to design a metaphor for people to take back home after the experience. This fancy kind of metaphor is called "Isomorphic," and you can read more about that from an Outward Bound professional named Stephen Bacon... mmm, bacon... 

The real trick of it all comes with the take-away. How do we take something home with us after a really impactful experience? Have you ever come home from an epic vacation, camping trip, or week at summer camp, and you want to download the whole experience on the first unfortunate person you see? Intense experience can come in all shapes and sizes. Whether they were exciting, reflective, fun, thoughtful, or whatever - if it was chock full of "A-HA!" and "Eureka!" moments, chances are you learned something. And, if you learned something, how are you going to bring that back to your world outside of that experience? 

  click here for the Outside article

click here for the Outside article

Here's a way to keep that novelty and excitement in your wonderful everyday life after that Big A-HA Adventure. Go for a Micro-Adventure. Outside Magazine just published a great article on the art of tiny experiences to shake up the routine. 

Remember, the change doesn't need to be earth-shattering to gain Life Profit. Just like a savings account, you can add a little at a time. It can be as simple as a little walk to catch the sunset. 


To climb a mountain

 Jacose's trusty be-stickered water bottle

Jacose's trusty be-stickered water bottle

GutMonkey's own Jacose Bell, spent her Sunday in the "Gorge"-ous Columbia River Gorge, just east of Portland.

If you're a mentor for The Generation IX Project, put the Gorge high on your list for extra destinations when you come out to Portland for the retreat. 

On your way out, pick up a copy of Scott Cook's "Curious Gorge." More detailed and personal than your average trail guide, it catalogs all the best hikes, viewpoints, and destinations in the Gorge. 


NACCHO 2015!

From Tempe to Portland, unpacked and re-packed,  GutMonkey is ready to head out to another conference. Tomorrow morning, we head out to Southern California to attend the Association of Challenge Course Technology Conference. Before we take off, let's talk about last week at the 2015 North American Camping Conference Hemophilia Organizations Conference!

GutMonkey kicked off the opening session for NACCHO this year. With a conference theme like "The 7 Summits," we thought it appropriate to transform an unsuspecting conference room into a montane basecamp, complete with snowy peaks, Himalayan prayer flags, and ample opportunity to attempt an act of bravery. 

Big Dog invited conference attendees to stretch their comfort zones through a team relay which ran the gambit of challenges - everything from cactus kissing to mousetrap snapping. 

As a culminating activity, "mountaineering teams" wrote their goals for camp on the iconic flag bunting in the form of mantras. 

GutMonkey also facilitated a few breakout sessions. Pat, Joe and Kristine shared a robust checklist for programs interested in running adventure camp programs. Pat and Jacose ran a session about taking positive risks. 

 As always, it was really fantastic to connect with good friends, make new connections, and to be a part of this community. Thanks to everyone who braved NACCHO! 

- Garma


Bravely done.


You took the first step. Remember to breathe. It’s time for one more.


Welcome to the Be Brave Blog: an amalgam of all things GutMonkey. This is where to go for the latest and greatest GutMonkey news. A place to see content like new video and pictures and share articles and quotes that reinforce and challenge our mission.

GutMonkey's mission and direction have been influenced by a confluence ideas from legends of outdoor education, like Outward Bound founder, Kurt Hahn. 

I regard it as the foremost task of education to insure the survival of these qualities: an enterprising curiosity, an undefeatable spirit, tenacity in pursuit, readiness for sensible self denial, and above all, compassion.
— Kurt Hahn


Kurt Hahn’s words ring true to our mission. Yes, it’s about education, but more specifically education through building resilience and taking positive risks. As experiential educators we design programs that challenge people’s attachments to an ordinary day. The Be Brave Blog should be no different.

So, on this inaugural post, we’d like to invite you to a shared experiential challenge.

We want to you to share with the community where you choose to Be Brave.


Step 1:

Get a Be Brave sticker from a GutMonkey Program. We’ll be giving out a bunch at the NACCHO Conference!


Step 2:

Stick it wherever you need a reminder to Be Brave.

We think orange looks striking on a variety of water bottle and insulated thermos sizes and colors. If you spend a lot of time adventuring, you know how important it is to stay hydrated.

Bravery is not the lack of fear. Bravery is doing something even though you’re afraid. That’s why we designed the stickers to fit nicely on an infusion mat, and we choose to use ink that would not smear from an alcohol prep pad. That means, you can keep a little orange reminder with you whenever you need to infuse.


Step 3:

Take a picture of your primo Be Brave sticker location and share it with your community. Send it to us in an email by clicking on the envelope icon at the bottom of this the website, or via the contact page. Or you can upload it to the comments to this post, post it to Instagram with the hashtag #gutmonkey, or post it on our Facebook page. 

We'll post fresh crops of pics that you send in, and you can be GutMonkey famous!

  Maggie Lou: Official GutMonkey

Maggie Lou: Official GutMonkey

So, check back often to see examples of brave folks from our programs around the U.S., Canada, and beyond.

We are tremendously excited to share this new website, and blog with you, our friends, our family, and our community. We will continue to post videos and pictures from our programs here and elsewhere on the website. There will definitely be more challenges and calls to action. Like any community, we need your enthusiastic participation by commenting and sharing to make this blog a more robust and exciting destination. 


Big Dog handpicked this quote to wrap up our very first Be Brave Blog Post. We'll leave you with that for now, and a hearty thank you for checking out the new site. 

It is not the critic who counts; not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles, or where the doer of deeds could have done them better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood; who strives valiantly; who errs, who comes short again and again, because there is no effort without error and shortcoming; but who does actually strive to do the deeds; who knows great enthusiasms, the great devotions; who spends himself in a worthy cause; who at the best knows in the end the triumph of high achievement, and who at the worst, if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly, so that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who neither know victory nor defeat.
— Theodore Roosevelt