Tuesday, May 18, 2021
Posted by
Campaign to Save the Boundary Waters

Adventure Advocacy

What is adventure advocacy?
Adventure advocacy is the process of raising awareness for a cause through an adventurous act. National Geographic explorers Dave and Amy Freeman are some of the most well known adventure advocates for the Campaign to Save the Boundary Waters; however, there have been a variety of incredible people who have used adventure advocacy to raise awareness around the proposed sulfide-ore copper mining on the edge of the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness. 

Why do adventure advocacy? 
Adventure advocacy is a unique way to use your passions to raise awareness for a good cause. It also is a great way to stand out and gain exposure for the cause. Here are some examples of news stories that covered past adventure advocacy projects for the Boundary Waters.

Paddle to DC
In 2014, Dave and Amy Freeman paddled and sailed on a 101-day, 2,000-mile journey from Ely, Minnesota, to Washington, D.C., to call attention to a proposed sulfide-ore copper mining operation threatening the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness. The Freemans departed Ely by canoe on August 24, 2014, and arrived in Washington, D.C., on December 2, 2014. They made stops in communities along the way, participating in events such as the September 5-7 celebration of the 50th anniversary of the Wilderness Act in Duluth. In Washington, D.C., they participated in a press conference and co-hosted the Youth Outdoor Collaborative, a wilderness and outdoors youth engagement event for nearly 150 area elementary and middle school students.

Photo Credit: Bryan French

Bike Tour to Save the Boundary Waters
On April 2, 2015 three dedicated young women: Erin, Iggy and Lisa -- wilderness guides from Voyageur Outward Bound School near Ely --began a journey of adventure advocacy across Minnesota stopping at colleges and communities along the way, to raise awareness about the threat to the Boundary Waters' clean water, clean air and forest landscape from proposed sulfide-ore copper mining on its wilderness edge. On May 10, 2015, the riders completed their journey of 850 miles over 39 days and celebrated in Ely, MN, which is at the edge of the Boundary Waters.

Read their notes from the road here.

A Superior Hiking Trail Thru-Hike
On August 9, 2015, Kathleen Ferraro began a thru-hike of the Superior Hiking Trail. Kathleen decided to hike in support of the Campaign to Save the Boundary Waters and use her hike as a chance to educate people about the risk posed to the Boundary Waters from sulfide-ore copper mining. 

Read Kathleen’s blogs here:

A Year in the Wilderness
On September 23, 2015, Dave and Amy Freeman embarked on a yearlong adventure in the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness in support of the Campaign to Save the Boundary Waters’ efforts to protect the Boundary Waters from proposed sulfide-ore copper mining on the Wilderness edge. On September 23, 2016, they returned after 366 days. Since they departed on their Year in the Wilderness, Dave and Amy camped at approximately 120 different sites, explored 500 lakes, rivers and streams, and traveled more than 2,000 miles by canoe, foot, ski, snowshoe and dog team. In 2014, Dave and Amy traveled by canoe and sailboat from Ely to Washington, DC, on the Paddle to DC as a first step in their efforts to protect the Wilderness.

Listen to the Freemans discuss their adventure advocacy projects on this Dirtbag Diaries podcast

Runnin’ for the BWCA Boston Marathon fundraiser
In 2018, Kate and Adam Eskuri signed up to run the 2018 Boston Marathon. Instead of just running the race, they created a GoFund me fundraiser to make the race represent something even bigger. They had a goal to raise awareness for the proposed sulfide-ore copper mining on the edge of the Boundary Waters, as well as to raise $100 per mile that they were running. 

Waterway Jay: Paddle for progress
In 2018, Jay Gustafson, known as Waterway Jay, spearheaded a project called Paddle for Progress with the vision to galvanize Minnesotans to take pride and state ownership of the freshwater ecosystems that make our state unique. 

Pedal to DC 
On April 22, 2018 Amy and Dave Freeman set out from Ely, MN to bike to Washington, D.C. on a bike-book tour for their new book A Year in the Wilderness. Not only did they bike from Ely to D.C. they also pulled a canoe behind them the whole way and collected signatures as they went. Once returning from living in the Boundary Waters for one year, they determined that a traditional book tour wasn’t for them and decided to partake in a bit more adventure advocacy to promote their book while continuing to raise awareness for the proposed sulfide-ore copper mining on the edge of the Boundary Waters. They arrived in Washington, D.C. on June 18th, 2018 and met with elected officials to share the importance of permanently protecting the Boundary Waters.

Swim for the Boundary Waters 
Swim for the Boundary Waters is a 3-year open water swimming and paddling expedition along the BWCA/Canada border to celebrate and protect the BWCA. In 2019, a team of 2 swimmers and 2 support crew took part in a 12 day 80-to-90-mile canoe-and-swim expedition of the Boundary Waters. 

Read about their adventure here.

Running for the Boundary Waters 
In 2019, our Government Affairs Director, Alex Falconer, decided to combine two of his greatest passions (running and the Boundary Waters) together to try something no one has done before. Although the Boundary Waters is often known for its pristine canoeing, Alex had a vision to run through this Wilderness Area consisting of over 1,200 lakes. Read about Alex’s big run on May 22, 2021 here

Listen to Alex discuss his running adventures on WTIP podcast.


As you can see by these awesome adventure advocacy examples, anyone can use their own skills and talents to raise awareness and protect the places they love. You already love adventure- why not adventure to protect special places like the Boundary Waters!