Campfire Stories ~ a publishing initative inspires tales by firelight

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Few things in the human experience are more profound than the power of storytelling. Dating back to the days of our earliest ancestors members of our tribe gathered around the fire at night to share their experiences of life on Earth. Camped under a blanket of stars primitive men and women recounted their adventures of the hunt or a newly discovered landscape rich with food and shelter to the marvel of their kin eager to hear more exciting tales. The long tradition of fireside storytelling endures to this day. And despite the technical advances of electronic broadcast communication and high capacity data storage there is still no better way to share the compelling narratives of our lives, particular in the wilds og nature, than through the wonders of campfire stories.

A new book project currently in production aims to rekindle the world’s enthusiasm for stories told by firelight. A very cool Kickstarter initiative is generating awareness and support the efforts of creators Dave & Ilyssa Kyu to assemble a collection of nature-themed chronicles into a book they call simply Campfire Stories. With special attention paid to a few of the most iconic national parks of North America the Kyu Collective is looking to find tales that explore the history and legacy of humanity’s relationship with the natural world and the ongoing effort to protect it for future generations.

The Joy Trip Project is proud to support this ambitious objective. As a part of a community of outdoor enthusiasts and stewards of the environment I want to encourage everyone to find their personal stories that connect us directly to nature. So I reached out to Dave & Ilyssa to invite them to share a bit about their process and motivation behind the creation of this book. And I hope that members of this audience will share their thoughts, a little cash and maybe a few stories of their own.

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The Joy Trip Project:
What made you decide to put together this collection of campfire stories?

Kyu Collective:
The idea for this book happened when we were sitting around a campfire and I (Ilyssa) watched as my hand, with a mind of its own, went to reach for my phone. Here I am, in the midst of beautiful trees on Mount Desert Island sitting around the fire with my husband, and I reached for my phone. I thought about what I could do other than play my ukulele (it was late) and I found myself wishing I knew stories to share around the fire.

We didn’t grow up with the tradition of camping… so we found ourselves longing for good campfire stories. We tried finding a collection of campfire stories and couldn’t really find what we were looking for—there were mostly regional stories or ghost stories. We were looking for stories about adventure and the wild and the history, people and cultures of the places we were visiting. So, in a conveniently transitionary part of our life, we decided to make the book be were looking for.

JTP:
Who are some of the authors you will include?

Kyu:
In short, that is what the trip is for! We will be traveling to five more National Parks from May to August to first identify themes that capture the essence of each park and then second to that, identify the stories and/or writers that best convey those. We spent a month in Acadia National Park in October to kick off our book and test our process. The authors we selected (so far) for that chapter of the book include: Ruth Moore, William Carpenter and Peter Blanchard.

JTP:
Why do you suppose storytelling is a good way to help build awareness for natural settings in general and the National Parks in particular?

Kyu:
This is a great question! We wrote a bit about this for our Kickstarter:

Why National Parks?
• They’re beautiful and unique places, and it is our hope that these stories generate an interest and impulse for new, unfamiliar audiences to visit and experience nature.
• And the time is right – in 2016 the National Park Service celebrates its centennial! Much like the intention behind the founding of the National Parks, nature should be protected and made accessible for everyone to enjoy—not just the wealthy or privileged. We feel National Parks serve as a great introduction to the outdoors—providing modern amenities and comforts of home in unfamiliar places. In short, Thoreau is wonderful, but his wilderness experience is not accessible to all.

Why stories?
• Stories play a powerful role in creating emotional connections necessary in creating individual connections to nature.
• Stories teach us lessons, build our empathy, and share ideas that are emotionally important in the art of living.
• We crave stories. Podcasts and television shows are in such high-demand, told with wonderful complexity and high production value. Yet when we held a “Campfire Storytelling” event in Acadia National Park, asking attendees to bring a story to share, we found everyone had come in hopes of hearing a story. We’re surrounded by great narratives, but don’t feel they are ours. We want to collect stories that can be passed down – ones that are simpler to read, simpler to share and relevant for generations to come.
• Ghost stories dominate the campfire story genre. You’re out in the woods, it’s dark, it makes sense. But there are so many more stories to tell when you’re out in the woods. There are stories of the landscape, the trees and animals that inhabit a place. There’s the human story of the land and ballads for the folks who’ve lived and breathed these places. Campfire stories that can capture all of these ideas can reignite our curiosity for the world, and sharing these stories evokes a camaraderie that we’ve lost – one that lives inside a good campfire story.
• Whether somebody is reading Campfire Stories from their living room, a local city park or around a campfire in a state or national park, we hope these stories create new individual connections to and positive experiences with nature, especially younger generations who are increasingly disconnected from the outdoors—generations of people who, one day, will be responsible for protecting it.

JTP:
How do you want your book to be read? Literally around a campfire? Or as a source of inspiration in advance of a camping trip?

Kyu:
Around a campfire is the feeling that we want to try to evoke, but we want it to be read anywhere and everywhere. We realize camping is not accessible (or of interest!) to everyone, so we hope that reading the stories could evoke the feeling of community and the sense of awe and wonder about the nature world!

 

You can support the Campfire Stories project on Kickstarter

 

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Author:James

I'm a freelance journalist that specializes in telling stories about outdoor recreation, environmental conservation, acts of charitable giving and practices of sustainable living.

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