Archive for October, 2011


98.1 Feel Good Favourite

   Posted by: Dan    in News, Quest

A few weeks ago – specifically on the 23rd of September, a rainy afternoon – I called in to 98.1 CHFI, a radio station in Toronto that was holding a fundraising drive to raise money for cancer research.

Not usually so zombified

Darren Osbourne, er... Hallowe'en style.

I thought it would be a good time to call in and give some money to the cause outside of our little organization, and maybe try to help spread the word.  When I called in and requested – of course – The Proclaimers’ “I Wanna Be” (better known as “500 Miles”), I explained why.

Darren Osbourne, host of the afternoon program, put it on at 5:00pm just as thousands got into their cars listening.  He was kind enough to send me an MP3 of my nervous request.

A few things you’ll note:

  • I say six friends.  I was including our (potential) videographer in this number.
  • I sound sort of echo-y; this is because I was at work in the phone booth that has the worst acoustics in the world.
  • I do not give our website information, in what is possibly the worst marketing move in history.*

You can listen to the clip here: 98.1 CHFI Announces the Wayfarers’ Quest

What can you do with this?  First and foremost, spread the news.  We would love to have more radio exposure, some TV exposure, some newspapers – absolutely anything that can help us get the word out and raise more money for cancer research.  If you know someone in media, or even someone who writes a ‘blog, tell them about us.  Better yet, tell them to get in touch with us.  We’ll make ourselves available to do anything we can to help spread the word.

Second, leave us a comment here or on our Facebook page to let us know how you heard about us, especially if you don’t know any of us personally.  Let us know what’s effective.

Finally, and most importantly, bookmark our site, like us on Facebook, follow us on Twitter and check in regularly.  Next week we will be announcing a contest (complete with prizes!) and a few big events we’ll be doing early next year to help fundraise that we would love to see you out for.

As a bit of a teaser… have you ever been to a fundraising gala dinner?  Why did you go?  Did you enjoy it?  Leave a comment and let us know!

*I am sure there have been worse.  Thankfully.

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Long Nights by the Fire

   Posted by: Andrew    in Quest, Research, Training

This weekend, I went camping for the first time in years, although we ended up being able to fit everyone in the nearby (heated) cottage. We were only a few hours out of Toronto, near Durham, but we still could barely tell there was anyone else for miles – and the highlight of the night (after dinner, at least) was the campfire. I ended up volunteering to watch it alone for a while, while the others went inside for dessert, and I realized that I was kind of getting a glimpse into how next year will be:

It was cold. The half of me that wasn’t facing the fire, despite being wrapped in warm clothing, was freezing (we woke up with a layer of frost on the grass).
I was exhausted, despite not doing much that day, because I wasn’t bathed in artificial light and attached to the internet.
It was extremely dark – if I faced away from the cottage I could see nothing but the fire.
I was completely alone outside – and I had nothing to really think about. Next year, we’re going to be doing rotating watches, so more often than not I’ll be spending two hours a night doing exactly that – but I had a hard time with the ten minutes I spent on Saturday night. This should be interesting.

What would you think about, sitting alone staring at the fire for two hours in the middle if the night? How would you resist falling asleep?

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One Year

   Posted by: Dan    in Quest

One year from right now – the very time I’m writing this, 10:09am on October 25th – we will be walking our last leg towards Rosslyn Chapel.  In my mind it will be a sunny, cold morning, but that may have something to do with the fact that the image is reflected in Toronto today.

We will be tired, but only a few days out from our last bed, likely a small inn and tavern in Stirling.  Loch Ness will have been over a week behind us, almost two; Ireland almost four.

One year from today, we will be eating our final meal on the road with a small picnic lunch at Rosslyn Chapel.  Rosslyn was made famous in The Da Vinci Code, both the novel and the film; its ties to such media – and purported ties to the Freemasons and the Knights Templar – are secondary, in my mind, to its historically documented ties to William Sinclair.  Having a Sean Sinclair on our journey, we could not resist the small diversion on our path to bring us here.

After lunch, just a few hours hence 366 days from today, we will set off again.  Our backpacks will, I think, feel lighter; our feet less sore, the cold air more sweet.  We will set off on the 12.6km route to the north of the Chapel with an energy I expect we’ll not have felt for a few weeks by that point.

And at the end of that route, at the top of a broad, famous hill, we will gaze on the statues of Robert Bruce and William Wallace, ensconced at the entrance to Edinburgh Castle.  We will stop.  We will stare.  We will take at least a dozen pictures of exhausted, exhilarated faces.

366 days, 5 hours from now, our journey will be over and we will be in Edinburgh, ready to take a load off.  Change our clothes.  Take a shower.

One year from now our Quest will be done.

Will you help us get there?  Will you tell your friends, tell your schools, your gaming groups, your communities?

Spread the word, folks: we leave in just over eleven months.

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The Game of Amtgard

   Posted by: Paul    in Amtgard

Yesterday, a 23$ donation to the American Cancer Society was received from the Amtgard group the Shire of Boreal Dale, located in Sanford, Maine through our Quest for the Cure initiative.  Over half the money the Quest has raised up until now has come from the people and groups of Amtgard.  As such, I thought I would give it my best shot at giving a general description of what Amtgard is as well as how I am involved in the game.

Amtgard is a LARP (Live Action Role-Playing) game where people dress up and fight each other with safe foam-covered replica weapons all over North America.  Players have a choice of several classes to play, from the sword and shield using Warrior, to the bow-wielding scout, to the fireball-throwing and spell-casting wizard.  Every class has its own strength and weaknesses and players are allowed to play as any class they wish at the level they have attained (new levels are granted as players sign in as the same class over again up to 6th level in each class) for every game.  More information on the rules of Amtgard can be found here

I started playing Amtgard in July of 1997, in the Sudbury group now called the Duchy of Wolven Fang.  Little did I know at the time that my simple desire to experience medieval style fighting would turn into my primary hobby and a large source of friendship for at least the next fifteen years of my life.  While I took breaks from the game as I went away to school, I always returned to it. 

As the years went by, I realized that Amtgard was actually a large community, and not something that only happened behind the local high school.  I travelled to larger events in Virginia, West Virginia, Maryland, Pennsylvania, New York, New Hamshire, and even flew to New Mexico and California for Amtgard.  At every place, new players were met and new friendships formed.  Amtgard in Canada and the northern US grew, and four groups (the Duchy of Wolven Fang, the Duchy of Caradoc Hold, the Barony of Twilight Peak, and the Barony of Felfrost) came together and formed the first Canadian Principality:  The Northern Empire.

I still play because I enjoy the game.  It’s great exercise and gives me a challenge each and every Sunday, as well as a special event or two every month that I can attend.  I plan to continue to blog about Amtgard, and specifically Amtgard events.  Those events and the people are what really keep me coming.  People like the guys from the Shire of Boreal Dale in Maine – a state I’ve never visited – that are willing to help out a group of people who want to go overseas on a quest to conquer cancer.



Base Camping

   Posted by: Dan    in Quest, Research

When you think camping, what comes to mind?

For many people it’s bonfires with roasting marshmallows, big nylon tents, swimming in a lake and maybe some hiking.  Some people make it relaxing with a good book; some people portage with a canoe through lake- and river-filled regions and come back home pleasantly exhausted.  Some bring air mattresses and some think it’s not camping if you don’t wake up with the impressions of branches on your back.

I am, personally, not much of a camper – I prefer beds to the ground, showers in the morning, and a hot breakfasts and cold drinks.  I thoroughly enjoy my creature comforts.  But as soon as we decided to do the Quest as, well, a quest, I knew that my usual requirements for a good camp weekend – regular runs to the corner store, for instance – would be impossible.

And so I started to think about what we would be using to camp.  Certainly not the easy-to-build, easy-to-carry tents that we can buy at any major outdoor store; no air mattresses, no propane stoves, no coolers full of ice.  We would have to balance old-school materials like canvas or leather with considerations for weight, since we will be carrying everything everywhere distributed over the six of us.

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Some Thoughts on Training

   Posted by: Dan    in Training

When we started walking just after 9am last Saturday, one thing was clear: this was going to be a very different day than we had spent training in the past.

We had purchased new gear – some fancy waterskins, tarps and rope for making camp, even some flint and steel; any nerd will tell you that flint and steel is one of the first things you purchase as an adventurer, of course.  Paul and I both wore well-supported hiking backpacks, and everyone else had a pack of some sort.  I wore my steel chainmail over a thick gambeson, which I would end up regretting for the heat… but more on that later.

First and foremost it was our largest group – never before had five of us all gathered to do a training walk.  The closest we had come was four, and five provided a new challenge of an “odd man out” when people paired up.  We had seen this before in three-person outings, but there it’s easier to include everyone by just spreading out further.  We can’t really do that with five.

The size of our group also meant that it spread out more.  I walk more slowly than some of the members of the Wayfarers, especially with the gear I was hauling; I was often (but not always) at the back of the group, and there were times that I would stop to take a picture and the group would turn a bend and I would find myself alone.  Safe enough, to be sure, but without a line of sight on anyone.

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Training Weekend

   Posted by: Dan    in Training

This weekend we are training for the walk next year with gear for the first time.

We have done long walks – most of us have done 35 kilometre walks or more, in fact, longer than we ever intend to do while on the Quest. We did that on purpose, ensuring that we will know how exhausted we could be in hopes that the shorter days will be some relief.

Today, though, marks the first day we will be going out with backpacks. These are not the packs we will have for the walk; a mixture of high-grade hiking packs and simple bookbags that provide little support, they are just what we have for the time being.

It is also not the gear we will have, though it is sometimes a reasonable facsimile: we have tarps, rope, cooking gear and food. We have waterskins to drink from, and flint and steel to use if we need to start a fire…which, walking in Scarborough, I hope we will not.

I will also be wearing my chain mail, which will be my biggest challenge yet. With unseasonably high temperatures being predicted by the Weather Network, it may be the heat rather than the weight that makes it hard to finish today’s relatively short training walk.

We plan to see Scarborough’s beautiful Guild Inn, a park near the Bluffs, and then head to the Bluffs themselves. We are aiming at roughly 27-28km today; Andrew marked out a route using Google and I will be using a GPS-based walking app on my Blackberry to see how accurate Google’s measurements were.

We will be checking in this evening – at least a couple of us, and more when the weekend is done – so keep your eyes peeled. And if you are someone who saw us walking on the street and asked what we were doing – if you were directed here by a forest green strip of card stock – welcome to the site. Leave us a comment. Say hello. We look forward to hearing from you.

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Walking Scotland Legally Part 2

   Posted by: Drew    in Research, Training

So after trying to make time between my classes, my work, and admittedly my overall laziness I can finally say I have some results. The Scottish Outdoor Access Code answered a lot of my questions. Walking the trip as we’d hoped should be doable. The access code is long and lists a few restrictions for safety and non forest fire starting reasons, but much to my surprise it looks like we’ll even be able to build campfires in most of the out of the way places.

Hunting is an entirely different matter. Bow hunting and crossbow hunting is illegal in the United Kingdom. If I were being honest, I would say I found this to be a bit of a relief. It was something we had considered, but remains something that most of us aren’t very inclined to do.

Fishing surprisingly doesn’t seem to actually require a license. However some of us are skeptical about whether we’ll be staying anywhere long enough to be able to do it. Also, when factoring conservation laws and obtaining permits it starts getting a little confusing in terms of when and where we can fish for what. For now this is being put aside since it seems unlikely that we’ll even want to have to carry the equipment around. If we change our minds, we’ll either have to make a detailed fishing map or have our fishing spots planned out before hand.

For now this mostly just leaves questions about equipment. I’m very confident that we’ll be able to stay true to our theme (even if it means toiletries will be accompanied with leaves…) however our equipment lists remain to fully sorted out. Once we have that figured out, I’ll be able to determine what we can get across the boarder and what we can get onto a plane.

Another bit of news: this weekend is a two day training walk for us. We’re headed a bit north to get our first taste of what it’s like to walk all day, camp, and than get up in the morning and do it again. I’m looking forward to it, even if it is like to be cold.

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Donations Accepted!

   Posted by: Dan    in News

We have finally gone through two thirds of the motions required to get donations going through our team.  But before I get into that, I want to make a quick post about the money aspect.

We are not taking donations in ourselves; we will not be responsible for handling money except on very specific days (when we will be taking cash donations for actual live events).  We won’t be processing cheques or anything along those lines – doing those things creates costs that we would eventually need to have eat into the donations, and that’s something we want to avoid as much as we can!

Because of this, we are setting up separate systems for payment depending on where you live.  This means that you will be able to get tax receipts (where applicable) for your donations, and removes any chance of administrative fees being charged while simultaneously letting us form teams and see our progress towards our goal.

Have you ever joined a charitable team?  Run for Terry Fox, or done a 5k in your hometown?  We are looking for ideas to help us spread the word and get people involved over the next year, so please post your ideas here!