The Matt Prior Adventure Academy

Two years ago an email appeared in my inbox from Matt Prior.

“Having recently spoken to our mutual friend about a few trips, your name came up and it reminded me, I still need to write to Squash.  Unfortunately we haven’t met face to face…”

Matt continued by telling about some of his projects and was reaching out to discuss other opportunities.  I had a look around his website and realised he was a pretty remarkable character.

Matt did a Q&A with me as part of a series of interviews to show what effect adventure can have on your life.

He also told me about his baby!  The Matt Prior Adventure Academy.

“A one week adventure like no other.  A no-frills, practical course designed to give you an introduction into Adventure, Travel and Overland Expeditions.
The aim is to show you the benefits of adventure to you and your life. Once you understand the mindset and how to implement what is required, you will be able to achieve anything you want to.”

It sounded remarkable and I thought to myself, I wish I could go on that.

Amazing how things work out!

I finally met Matt, in person at the end of last year and he said he would like me to join him on one of the trips to see what I thought and to see if we both thought this was something I could lead.

My ‘interview’ was two weeks ago.  Matt was very keen that I experienced the adventure academy as he delivers it, so armed with very little information I arrived in Indonesia with my kit and met the team.

The next six days would be off grid and without internet, that I relished, but not knowing what the itinerary was, that was tough!  Not knowing where or how far we would travel or for how long, not knowing when our next meal would be or where we would stay, for me this was a new experience.  I adapted quickly – we all did, we had to!

We were a small team of four and diverse in age and background but an expedition is a great leveler and friendships formed fast.

With a strap line of Live, don’t just exist, the academy packs a huge number of unique experiences into a short space of time.  There was motorbikes, active volcanoes, remote villages, things very few other people have ever seen before and tough times where digging deep and asking a lot of yourself is needed.

I hadn’t really thought about the fact that most of the expeditions I’ve done previously have been in cold environments in dry air.  The intense heat, high humidity and tropical rain storms were a shock to my system and I was so out of my comfort zone – which of course is where the magic happens.

If this trip was easy then everyone would do it, with very limited spaces available each person is interviewed and what follows is a week of tough, unforgettable experiences that show you who you are and more importantly what you are capable of.

If you have an adventurous spark but are not really sure where to start then click here and you’ve already begun and I might just be seeing you in Indonesia next year for an amazing adventure.




The Wonder of Camping

My first real camping experience was with my friends when I was at secondary school.  We were doing our Duke of Edinburgh’s award and to me, at the time, it meant one thing…  FREEDOM!

Leaving no trace!
Leaving no trace!

I was so excited.  We headed off into the hills with huge packs on our backs, big smiles on our faces and not a care in the world.  I was with my closest friends and it was brilliant.  Looking back, we were less than organised when it came to getting the tent set up, cooking dinner and keeping things in order.  Of course none of that mattered and we figured it all out eventually.  The main theme seemed to be laughter and fun, no one was there to tell us what to do so we stayed up late and ate chocolate in bed.

Not a great deal has changed over the years!

Whether camping in the snow, by the waters edge, up a mountain, in a grassy field or in the woods, sleeping in a tent is always an adventure and it still thrills me.

Camp Two on Everest
Camp Two on Everest

There’s something magical about being cocooned in a sleeping bag – warm and cosy with just a thin layer of material between you and the elements.

Often, camping goes hand in hand with some kind of hardship.  That could be a long hike or climb to the place you pitch your tent, it might be that you’re out of your comfort zone, that you don’t have your luxury items, you’re confined to a small space or maybe you’re too cold… or too hot.  Somehow all of these things make lying in your tent, in the still, calm darkness of the night all the more sweet.

The natural light of the morning and the birds twittering is a delightful way to wake up.  I love unzipping the tent from my sleeping bag and looking out into the new day, breathing in the fresh air and feeling invigorated and inspired.

Amazing views when wild camping in the South of France
Amazing views when wild camping in the South of France

Practically, camping is such a simple, inexpensive and accessible thing to do.  Mentally it’s like having a recharge.  Getting away from all the chaos and clutter of our everyday lives and removing technology, just for a short while, allows us to reconnect with ourselves, the people with us and nature.

You don’t always have to go far to go camping or to find a great spot to pitch your tent.  Look no further than your back garden!  If you’re new to camping it offers a safe and easy place to start.

Good food and great company makes any camping trip even better.  With a little imagination and effort you can cook up a feast over a campfire, not to mention melting marshmallows and chocolate to serve on biscuits – a well-known treat aptly named a S’more!

Camping is an adventure.  It’s fun, liberating and exciting.  Definitely don’t take my word for it though, grab a tent, go outside and sleep under the stars.