Odyssey is a set of 4 varied and challenging experiences through the year for young men aged 16-19 years old, in a range of exhilarating environments, guided and mentored by two experienced and inspirational outdoorsmen Chris Packe and Fergus Drennan (aka Fergus the Forager).
We shall be learning to live skilfully on the land, live off the land, travel across the land, and seeing what is revealed to us, and about us, as we go.
** Detailed info on dates and pricing options set out further below**
**A voucher can be provided if you want to give this experience as a gift - just enquire with mentor**
WHAT IS THE ODYSSEY?
The Odyssey is perhaps the greatest adventure story of all time, 2,800 years old but still perfectly relevant today. Odysseus' ship gets blown away to unknown lands. The stakes are high, there is treasure and danger, but it is the beginning of a journey that is the making of him. He comes back changed, defined by his own values manifesting through his own actions, no longer defined by others.
Anyone up for that? Yes please.
WHAT THE COURSE IS ABOUT
How we walk through the woods and hills is how we walk through life; let's aim to walk well.
The mark of a man is whether he is truly taking responsibility for himself and for others. To live life fully is to accept a whole heap of trouble and joy, and to walk with it, with courage. We need the influence of hearty struggle and worthy opponents in order to grow: it is in this way that we find meaning, and a large measure of respect. In order to develop as men, we need to step into the arena, and not just spectate. The warrior spirit needs a place where it can emerge.
This programme provides such an arena for a group of adventurous young men. You shall meet yourself - when navigating yourself on long routes through the hills and woods, when surviving purely off what the land provides, when sleeping in uncivilised locations, when sat in extended solitude in wild and beautiful places, and through the playful and deep experiences you will share with your fellow men as you travel. Self-reliance, self-reflection, resilience and a growing sense of competence are qualities that shall be called on, and sharpened through their use.
4 EVENTS (15 days, with an optional reunion event):
1: GATHERING UP (Tues 14 - Thurs 16 April) Location: Sussex woodland
Introduce the skills well need for the year, including foraging, bushcraft, fire by friction, navigation and expedition skills, as well as establishing certain juicy reflective practices
2. VENTURING OUT (Sun 24 - Thurs 28 May) Location: wild environment to be confirmed (Wales perhaps)
A 5 day trip, starting with a big walk out away from civilisation, followed by the 60-hour Hunter Gatherer challenge, where we will get by relying only on our foraging, firemaking, water purification and wild cooking skills
3. JOURNEYING IN (Mon 3 - Thurs 6 August) Location: Dartmoor
A 4 day trip, again starting with a big walk into the wilds of Devon, followed by a 24 hour solo fast in the remote Dart Valley
4. GOING FORTH (Mon 26 - Weds 28 October) Location: Sussex woodland
A culmination event, centred around an ancient ritual: the Fire Quest
5. COMING BACK (December. Optional and not included in price)
A reunion event in the cold of winter (because well be so toughened by then), to feast, catch up and reflect on the year
- £1,500 (equivalent to £100 per day) if paid in one go
- £1,600 if paid in 4 fixed instalments (£500 deposit on booking, £400 on 20 March one month before first event, £350 on 20 April following first event, and £350 on 20 May before second event)
- FUNDED PLACES: If this programme appeals to you, but feels out of reach financially, then please do not turn away. I have a patron, the Spayne Lindsay Foundation, who supports my work, and we can have a conversation about how we might be able to help. Get in touch with me and we can talk about it
- Whats included: all meals (when not foraging or fasting!), accommodation, mentoring, tuition, activities, materials, group equipment
- Not included: Personal kit and travel. For the Wales and Devon events, an efficient option is for me to hire a minibus and drive the whole group (note that times shown relate to the activities, and do not include travel times - we would leave early and return late for these two trips). I would expect this to cost £40 per person on each occasion
1. Get in touch with me (use the purple 'Contact Mentor' button)
2. Conversation between parent / guardian and me
3. I meet / Skype / speak with the young man in question (to break the ice, allow him to find out for himself from me what its about, and to allow me to understand that he himself actually does want to do it - a critical factor)
4. Then we make the booking
OTHER IMPORTANT INFO
- In order to be able to offer a programme like this, I require the full commitment of the participating young men (and their families). In a bonded group like this, an amount of synergy is lost by an individual missing one trip, and the whole group is affected, not just the absentee; each member carries a responsibility for the wider group. Interested participants will be able to meet or speak with Chris before committing, in order to be fully informed to make the decision.
- A degree of physical fitness is required, and a mindset to take on the various challenges. We will be carrying our equipment over consecutive days, often over rough terrain. We will encounter - by design - hunger, thirst, weariness, solitude and whatever the elements put our way (as well as all the treasure that can only be found on the other side of these discomforts!)
- Similarly, this programme requires a degree of social / emotional skill, and an agreed willingness to engage in such challenges, as they come hand in hand with the physical endeavour
- Bookings on this course are subject to Chris Packe's Terms and Conditions. To review these, please copy this link and paste into your web browser:
If you are interested in this programme, do please contact me to discuss further, using the purple Contact Mentor button at the top of the page.
This course is the big brother to Chris Packe's Wolf Pack programme for 13-16 year olds, also listed here on Eequ.
See my blog 'Insights from the Outdoors' at www.chrispacke.com for writings and observations pertinent to the matters that Odyssey addresses.
This programme features an exciting team-up of Chris Packe and Fergus Drennan.
For Chris, at the heart of this project is a desire for young people to experience freedom and the transformation that comes from it: the freedom that comes from a young man discovering his own power, shaking off imagined or unchallenged restraints, and making up his own rules about who he is and how he chooses to face the world as a man.
Chris has been a bushcraft instructor for 5 years now (for 15 years he was an investment banker in London), and he is a qualified hillwalking guide. He's also engaged in mentoring (through the charity A Band of Brothers and with individuals locally), as well as coaching and guiding, both adults and children. He has convened a consistent men's fire circle in the woods for over 4 years, owns a wood which he manages and serves as the venue for some of the events, is part of a sketch comedy troupe, writes, cartoons... even makes rap songs. He has hiked all his life and spent many years mountaineering before having children and shifting his time in nature to the more easily accessible woods. Whatever the landscape, he has built up a massive respect for the powerful medicine contained in expedition-type journeys, and the glorious, valiant struggle they often serve up.
Meanwhile, wild food experimentalist, course facilitator, forager, the ever-curious Fergus Drennan, aka Fergus The Forager, has been gathering and learning about wild plants, seaweeds, and fungi for over 40 years, beginning on Wimbledon Common, aged 3 years, collecting dandelions for the family’s pet tortoise. Since those early days, and through much creative and experimental exploration he has continued his foraging practice, not only as a means to understand and to discover the practical relevance that foraging has in the modern developed world, but also in terms of what it means to be an environmentally conscious human in relation to the natural world. “Can foraging ever be considered a truly sustainable practice, and if so how?”, is a question that always orchestrates his foraging activity, as does a pursuit of foraging’s playful and creative possibilities, whether they be found in novel recipes using plants, fungi, and seaweeds, or unlocking the possibilities that wild botanicals offer for other non-food-based creative pursuits. That includes, among other things, the making of baskets, mushroom paper, and natural dyes and pigments. Fergus has a huge amount of wild food knowledge to share, and an array of imaginative ways of doing so. After even only an afternoon with him, the natural world around you will never look the same again.
Strengths you may develop
Public Liability Insurance
First aid training
First aid kit
Please note it is the responsibility of the booker to satisfy themselves about the adequacy of the safety measures. This platform is merely an introducer and does not verify the items listed here.
My experience consists of a leisure activity, on a specific date(s), and therefore the 14-day ‘cooling off period’ under the Consumer Contracts Regulations 2013 does not apply.Cancellation process
This programme demands a high level of commitment from the organisers, and therefore a reciprocal level of commitment from families sending their son to join. We form a tribe and journey through the 4 experiences as a cohesive group. Absences or mid-programme cancellations are highly disruptive to the group, due to the strong bonds formed. Once the programme starts, no new participants are able to join, and so the ability to provide refunds for cancellations is limited. The £500 deposit on booking is not refundable. If a participant decides after the first camp that, for good reason, he does not want to continue, then any money paid except the deposit will be refunded. Beyond this, there can be no further refunds. In order to avert this situation, I will meet / speak / Skype with parents and son, to ensure that the time is indeed right, and the intention strong and clear, to participate in this programme. After booking, I will send you additional documents including terms of participation (various acknowledgements and understandings around how we will operate), along with brief questionnaires around health and intention. Detailed event information will be circulated in good time ahead of each event.
Chris used to climb mountains and work in the City until he had children, took off the tie, stopped travelling so far away and promptly fell in love with the woods and hills and their associated crafts. He is particularly fired up by running events and programmes that relate to men / fathers / teenage lads. This comes to life as nature-based youth mentoring programmes – year courses for young men such as Wolf Pack (13-16 years) and Odyssey (16-19 years), as well as Feral Fathers (feisty weekend events for fathers and sons / daughters) and convening a monthly men’s fire circle (since 2015). In addition, he does work that is variously described as coaching, mentoring and guiding (he is a qualified hill walking guide), and also sketch comedy, writing, cartooning and songwriting. Chris also finds himself owning a piece of woodland - a place to work, experiment and often to just go to alone and sleep in. He lives in Forest Row and has two children.