Expedition Mentality

Expedition: A journey with a purpose

Mentality: A way of thinking

Expedition Mentality: A way of thinking that supports the journey and the purpose


Our Expedition

The Journey: Canoe from source-to-sea on the Jefferson, Missouri, and Mississippi Rivers

                 Alyce Kuenzli and Lisa Pugh                            Women, Explorers, Adventure Educators

On May 11, 2016, we set out to become the first all-female team to canoe the Jefferson, Missouri, and Mississippi Rivers from the source in Montana to the Gulf of Mexico. In total, we will travel 4,000 miles down what is the longest river system in North America and the 4th longest river system in the world. The journey will take us seven months from May to November 2016.

    The Jefferson, Missouri, and Mississippi Rivers

The Purpose: Supporting girls and women in navigating their own paths to confidence

Our Mentality

As former girls, we understand how difficult it can be to find self-confidence.  As women, we now recognize how over-exposure to a world of narrow and unrealistic expectations surrounding womanhood creates barriers to building confidence. As adventure educators, we have experienced how positive risk-taking begins to break down those barriers, allowing us and our students to see beyond previous limitations. We have a lot of practice taking risks and have spent a lot of time learning from our failures and celebrating our successes. This process, though painful at times, has given us the confidence to take on our biggest risk yet: become the first all-female team to canoe the Jefferson, Missouri, and Mississippi Rivers. Through our adventure, we want to share our positive risk-taking experiences so that more girls and women feel inspired and empowered to take on their own challenges and pursue their own dreams.

Source of Confidence’s Expedition Mentality

Take care of yourself, take care of each other, take care of your stuff.

The challenges of expedition life are many. You must be prepared physically and mentally to: endure long days of hard travel; withstand wind, rain, snow, and relentless sun; and fend off bugs and food-stealing critters as well as self-doubt, criticism, selfishness, and fear. At times, you will need to carry more than your “fair” share of the load and allow your teammates to do the same for you. This is called compassion and requires trust and humility. It’s part of what makes teamwork great. You must be prepared to change plans, accept loss, fix things that break, apologize, ask for help, and forgive – sometimes all in the same day. You must also prepare yourself to be awestruck by: nature’s beauty; the power of your body; the potential of your spirit; and the generosity of strangers; and the support of friends, family, and your team.

Ok, if we had waited until we were perfectly prepared in all of those areas, we’d never have gotten out the front door. For simplicity, let’s go with this: be prepared to be out of your comfort zone. A Lot. Here’s how to know you are ready to do that:Picture1

The categories of team, self, and resources are each a point of the triangle. They all play a part in the success of the expedition and no one is more important than the other. Too much or too little attention to one and the triangle becomes lopsided, placing extra stress on the others. By taking care of yourself, you can be there to support your teammates. By supporting your teammates, they can better support you. By taking care of your resources (gear, food, environment), you ensure they are there when you need them (if you crash your boat, it might be a long swim home). On any given day, you may experience so many challenges, so many mood swings, so many tough decisions, so many unknowns that you forget which way is up. Your confidence may be called into question. This is when you come back to Expedition Mentality (EM). By thinking through the EM triangle before and during the journey may help you maintain the balance needed to complete your purpose.

For Educators: Ideas for bringing our Social and Emotional learning curriculum into your classroom.

This curriculum activity can be conducted through out the year, as many times as needed. It can be a good way for students to reset their goals and assess how to make them happen.

Questions to consider when forming your Expedition/Life Mentality:


What is your personal purpose? Goals?

  • What are you willing to sacrifice for the journey? Not willing?

What strengths do you bring to the journey?

In what areas would you like/need support?

  • Be honest with yourself
  • Be open to supportive feedback from your teammates


Who do you have with you?

  • What are their strengths?
  • In what areas do they need support? (Be sure to ask them)

What are your strengths as a team/class?

  • When are the moments when you shine?

What are your weaknesses as a team/class?

  • When do you clash?


What/who do you have available to help you on your journey/in life?

How do you ensure the continued supply of necessary resources?

1 thought on “Expedition Mentality”

  1. Pingback: Expedition Mentality Questions Answered - Wilderness Classroom

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