Post-partum depression. Anxiety over gender identity. Anorexia. Struggles with weight. A cancer diagnosis during pregnancy.
The first cohort of Out There ambassadors have very real challenges to talk about, despite some of the gorgeous photos they’re posting on social media.
Our ambassadors are listeners who are volunteering their time to help spark discussions amongst the Out There community, and introduce the show to new listeners. Today, we let each of them tell you a little about themselves. They talk about their hopes, their dreams, their struggles — all the very real things they’re dealing with as they navigate this crazy world we live in.
Their stories are raw and vulnerable and sad and beautiful, and — fair warning — you’ll likely be in tears by the end of the episode.
Part of our mission at Out There is to make the concept of ‘the outdoors’ more accessible to all. But so far, we don’t have a great track record.
Contrary to our intentions, this has become a show mostly about white people — and while we’re at it, mostly straight, upper middle class white people.
On this episode, Host Willow Belden and Business Development Director Alex Eggerking sit down for an honest conversation about how we got here, and what we hope to change in the future.
Adrian Fernandez thought he would never speak to his father again. His dad had ruined everything, and the situation seemed hopeless.
But sometimes, the people who hurt us most are the only ones we can turn to for help.
On this episode, Adrian shares his story. It’s a story of anger, desperation and longing. It takes us from suburban New Jersey to rural Montana, and it explores the surprising things that can happen when you feel you’ve hit rock bottom.
On this episode, we have a guest story from the podcast Hear in the Gorge, about what happens when something goes terribly wrong in the outdoors.
Producer Sarah Fox brings us the story of an accident that happened to a 10-year-old boy in Oregon, and she gives us a behind-the-scenes look at the Crag Rats, the oldest mountain search and rescue team in the U.S. They’re the people who get called to save lives in places where ambulances can’t get to. And they’re all volunteers.
Bill and Linda Ware live in the middle of Maine's notorious 100-Mile Wilderness. The only people they see on a regular basis are thru-hikers on the Appalachian Trail.
On this episode, we explore why people would choose to live like that — totally removed from friends and family. How do you keep from getting lonely, when your only human interactions are with hikers who stay a night or two at most? Can the magic of strangers really sustain a person?
When Halimah Marcus moved to Brooklyn, she took pride in getting to know Prospect Park. Running the park’s 3.5-mile loop over and over, as she trained for half marathons, was a comfort — a way to clear her mind.
But eventually, her little oasis lost its luster. After logging hundreds of miles on the same loop, she knew every twist and turn, every tree. There was nothing new to look forward to.
On this episode, Halimah shares her story. It’s a story about finding adventure when your only access to nature is city parks — about trying to ward off boredom when the places you play become overly familiar.
In 2015, Tiffany Duong was living the life — she’d finished law school, moved back to L.A. to join a big law firm, and traveled as much as she could. She worked hard and played harder.
And yet, she was miserable.
Then, on a whim, Tiffany signed up for a scuba diving trip to the Galapagos Islands. At the time, it seemed like just another bandaid — a way to escape her angst for a few days. But what happened on that boat, and in the wild blue ocean currents, ended up changing her life completely.
On this episode, she shares her story.
It’s been just over a year since Hurricane Harvey hit the Texas Gulf Coast. The Category Four storm devastated small coastal communities and dumped 51 inches of water in Houston. Harvey flooded over 200,000 homes and nearly burst major dams.
But that’s just the physical impact. Natural disasters can have deep emotional effects for us, too.
On this episode, Houston-based journalist Laura Isensee reflects on how powerless she felt to do anything useful during the storm. It’s a story that gives us an inside look at what it’s like to experience, and report on, a natural disaster, and about what happens when you feel like you’re incapable of helping the situation.
Monica Gokey was an avid whitewater kayaker. Paddling had stolen her heart, shaped her identity, and given her a tribe to belong to.
Then she had kids.
These days, Monica’s kayaking life has been replaced by the routine of caring for three small children. The adventurous side of her has been eclipsed by her new identity as a parent. And some days, that new identity is tough to swallow.
On this episode, Monica shares her story. It’s a story about the parts of ourselves we give up when we choose to become parents. And it’s about attempting to reconcile yourself with a new identity.
Bill Appel has devoted his retirement years to helping strangers.
He’s a “trail angel,” providing support to hikers and mountain bikers on several long-distance trails. He offers food and beverages to travelers, gives them rides into town to resupply, and cheers them on at some of the most demoralizing points in their journeys.
It’s a year-round operation. Appel angels along the Appalachian Trail, the Continental Divide Trail, the Colorado Trail, and the Florida Trail — and he does it all for free.
On this episode, we pay a visit to one of his aid stations, and we explore why people are sometimes so selfless. Where does altruism come from? What makes a person commit repeated acts of kindness?
FYI: the answer is not what you’d expect.
Susan Shain was on track to pursue her dream. She had worked hard in college, put in her time with unpaid internships, and had landed interviews with top media companies.
And then, just as she was about to graduate from college, one interview changed everything.
On this episode, she shares her story. It's a story about leaving behind your career ambitions and embracing a life of wasting time. And it's about the unexpected things that can happen when you stop trying to get ahead.
On this episode of our advice segment, Dear Nature, we respond to a question from a listener called Feeling Stuck, who is struggling to find motivation and passion.
"I’ve never been very adventurous or a go getter," Feeling Stuck writes, "and I have often wondered if those qualities, which I admire, are just inherent to some people and not others, or if there is a way for me to gain those qualities too."
Kayla Bordelon grew up thinking she didn't have a brain for science. Charts and numbers were indecipherable to her, and Latin names of plants and animals seemed irrelevant to her life. Instead, she was drawn to the humanities, where human experiences were front and center, and emotions had a place in the discussion.
Then, something happened that would unlock a part of her she didn't know existed.
On this episode, Kayla shares her story. It's a story that takes us from the Oregon coast to a remote river in Idaho, and it explores the boundaries between "science people" and the rest of us. Are we predestined to become one type or the other, or is there more to the equation? And what do we miss out on when we give up on science?
When Paula Davis went to Alaska to work with sled dogs, she had a storybook vision of what her life there would be like. There would be fur-filled cuddles, meaningful gazes, and nonstop dog kisses.
But of course, it wasn't that simple.
On this episode, Paula shares her story. It's about what happens when relationships don't turn out the way we'd hoped — and about how our expectations can hold us back in ways we'd never imagined.
On this episode of Out There's advice segment, Dear Nature, we answer a question from a listener who wants to know how to instill a love of the outdoors in her two small children.
"Day adventures used to be so easy before I had children," she says. "Do you have any tips for outdoor adventures with children? Have you ever brought a child on a hike longer than a mile? Do you have any fond memories from childhood that connected you with nature?"
Cindy Gagnon was backcountry skiing in Canada when she was buried in an avalanche.
Just a few hours later, the people she was skiing with — her friends — acted like nothing had happened. They reveled in the fresh powder, hooting and hollering as they skied home.
How could that be? And what did it mean?
This is a story about a type of denial we all engage in, whether in the wilderness or in our careers. It's a denial that simultaneously explains — and impedes — our ability for survival. And it might make you think twice about the decisions you make in the future.
Producer Bishop Sand, host of the new podcast Qualia, brings us the story.
Public Radio News Directors, Inc., a nation-wide association of radio professionals, recently honored Out There with a first-place award for our story The Instinct to Kill, which ran in January 2017. To celebrate, we thought we'd play you the story.
It's about one New Yorker's first experience hunting. And it looks at what it takes to actually pull the trigger. Is it something anyone is capable of? And if we can take a life, what does that say about us? How does it change us?
Sam Anderson brings us the story.
On this installment of our advice segment, we address a question about making a huge life change. A listener named Where Am I Going writes of his disillusionment with his corporate job, and shares his dreams to live a nomadic lifestyle. But taking the leap feels reckless to him — and would almost certainly mean ending his long-term relationship.
"How can I identify with confidence what is going to make me the most happy in the long term?" he asks.
When Olivia Round set off on a cross-country bicycle trip, she told people she was doing it to have an adventure, or to take a semester off school. But her real reason was more personal, more urgent: she wanted to overcome a paralyzing fear. A fear of men.
On this episode, Olivia shares the story of one particular night on her journey. It's a story about a surprising encounter she had in the mountains of Colorado — and about what's actually possible when it comes to overcoming our deepest fears.
Jen Kinney wanted to be a strong, independent woman. She had just split up with her long-term partner, and she felt a powerful need to prove that she was capable — that she could make it by herself — that she could meet her own needs.
So she decided to take herself backpacking. Alone.
She picked a 50-mile stretch of the Mountain To Sea Trail in North Carolina, and began planning meticulously. She worked through all the logistics, assembled her gear, packed everything she would need to provide for herself.
But what happened to her out in the mountains did not make her feel strong or capable. At least not right away.
The trip might not have been what she bargained for. But it left her with an important life lesson — a new understanding of what it means to take care of yourself.
On this episode of our advice segment, The Nature Fix, we respond to a question about fear.
A listener called Over My Head writes to us about a terrifying whitewater rafting trip she went on with her husband two years ago. The experience left her so rattled that she has not set foot in a raft again.
She wants to overcome her fear, in part because rafting is one of her husband's greatest passions — "so important it was in his wedding vows."
Our advice columnists offer some tips on mitigating fears, and discuss whether you should try to make yourself love what your partner loves.
Maya Kroth had her future all planned out: she and her boyfriend would move to Greece, where his family was from, they'd settle down in a beautiful village, lead an idyllic expat existence, maybe grow artichokes.
But that vision was shattered when the couple split up. No matter how good her life was, Maya just couldn't shake the breakup, or the loneliness she was left with.
Then, she took a trip to a small town in Greece. Alone.
What happened there would change her perspective on the breakup — and on how to find happiness.
Camille von Kaenel lost her mother when she was just 18. Her mom’s death left a gaping hole in her life. But in the years that followed, Camille discovered things about her mother that would give her a whole new appreciation for the parent she lost.
On this episode, Camille shares her story. It's a story that takes us from the Swiss Alps to a volcano in Ecuador. And it shows us just how much we can learn about - and gain from - our loved ones, even in their absence.
On the first episode of our advice segment, The Nature Fix, we tackle a question from a listener who feels trapped in his own life. He's desperate to move away from a place he hates, but feels obligated to stay, in order to care for his daughter and elderly mother.
"I just want to stand in the middle of a stream, waders on, with my fly rod in hand and live out my last quarter," he writes. "But I am about 5.5 years away from retirement. But even then, will I be able to live my dream with Mom still living and daughter still single? Or should I relegate myself to dying in a state that I cannot stomach to live in, just to please everyone else?"
In 2015, Australian journalist James Bennett moved to India, to take up a long-coveted role as a foreign correspondent.
James was an outdoorsy type: he liked to cycle, surf, camp, and fish. So he knew the move to India's crowded capital city was going to be hard. But what he didn’t realize was how the experience would change his perspective on speaking up about your problems.
On this episode, he shares his story.