When Davis Smith was 11, his father took him and his brother on an adventure into the Caribbean wilderness. Armed with nothing but homemade spears, the trio underwent a week-long effort to see how well they could survive. They lived off the land--sleeping on the earth and eating whatever they could kill.
This was the first in a series of six survival excursions that Mr. Smith has embarked on throughout his life. And as CEO of Cotopaxi-a company whose slogan urges consumers to "believe in the power of adventure to make the world better"--Mr. Smith is definitely living his brand. But he's not the only one willing to forgo the comforts of contemporary existence for the sake of braving the extreme. Survival trips are becoming increasingly popular, especially among entrepreneurs, executives, and even politicians.
There seems to be something inescapably alluring about confronting the wild with nothing but the clothes on your back and a crude weapon in your hand. After all, the very notion of man versus nature is imbued in our collective consciousness-it's always been at the forefront of what it means to be alive. But why are these trips gaining popularity now? Why would anyone--especially someone with the weight of a startup on his back--choose to go?
Perhaps, the answer lies in the immediacy of our tech-driven society. With the touch of an app, we can hail a ride to any destination at any time. The yearn to purchase luxury clothing has been quelled by platforms that allow us to rent anything we could possibly want to wear at a fraction of the retail price. Between Instagram, Netflix, and Hulu, there is enough content to entertain us until the end of time.
Tech has undoubtedly made every experience more accessible--however, it may be this accessibility that strips us of the things that truly sustain us: the challenges we face that allow us to learn and grow, the bonds we build with others through our collective efforts to survive, and the unadulterated experience of being alone in the midst of a savage expanse. Maybe, our society's game has gotten a little too easy.
Whatever the reason may be, there is something about returning to nature and conquering the physical universe that is increasingly compelling. However, I wanted to know what underlies that compulsion. What really urges someone to extend himself beyond the limits of civilization? What would drive an individual to leave his daily life and face the ultimate challenge of existence?
In pursuit of an adventure
"We went to a small island in the Marshall Islands called Jabonwod," says Eric Rea, CEO of Podium. "It is on a lagoon that had fish you can eat as well as crabs that you can hunt on...