Source of Confidence began in April 2015 when Alyce decided to canoe the Jefferson-Missouri-Mississippi river system, the 4th longest in the world. She had canoed the Mississippi River from its headwaters in Northern Minnesota, to the Gulf of Mexico, in fall 2014 and wanted to take on an even greater challenge. Wanting a partner on the trip, Alyce asked her friend Lisa to come with her, and she said, “Yes”! At the same time, Alyce and Lisa were reading the research of Katty Kay and Claire Shipman, in The Confidence Code, a book that highlights the disparity in confidence between girls/women and boys/men, known as the confidence-gap. Reflecting on the ways we had developed confidence, we realized that confidence enabled us to take on great challenges and risks (and we have been taking positive risks our entire lives). Not everything has been successful, yet reflecting on those experiences, we realized that we have taken that learning and along with celebrating success and achievements, it has propelled us forward, confidently in the direction of our dreams.
This is the philosophy behind Source of Confidence - taking positive risks, in order to build confidence, no matter the outcome, and learning from failure, celebrating success, or a combination of both. We agreed that the expedition should be an undertaking with intentions beyond personal achievement, so the confidence-building curriculum was born and has been growing ever since! We are now developing confidence-building workshops that we will facilitate in towns and cities along the rivers!
We did not stop there either! Alyce and Lisa had joked around during the initial planning stages, about how awesome it would be to have someone follow along and film their expedition. In December, Alyce collaborated on a short film with her good friend Victoria. During this time working together, Alyce brought up the idea of making a documentary about the expedition and Victoria was immediately on board.
As work on the documentary got under way, we started having numerous supportive and empowering conversations around topics of confidence, risk-taking, and the lack of female role models in all facets of life and career, with our women friends. We started filming these conversations and asking our friends for individual interviews. Like everything with Source of Confidence, the documentary has grown and we want to keep pushing the conversation around confidence and what it means to be a confident girl or women, in the world today. It will also be a vehicle for sharing the confidence-building curriculum with an even wider audience. So Victoria is joining us, via car, for the seven months we are canoeing, so that she can interview girls and women in the towns and cities we paddle through, and provide logistical support for the expedition.
Canoe 4,000 miles, source-to-sea, on the Jefferson, Missouri, and Mississippi Rivers. Starting at Brower’s Spring in Southwestern Montana and ending in the Gulf of Mexico, this is the fourth longest river system in the world. We will be the first women to canoe this river system in its entirety. Starting May 10th, through a combination of hiking/backpacking and inflatable rafts, including traveling up 9,000 feet to the ultimate source, we will traverse a series of small creeks, rivers, and reservoirs. Outside Dillion, MT, we will get into our tandem canoe and travel 3,000 miles on the Beaverhead, Jefferson, and Missouri Rivers.
We will reach the confluence with the Mississippi River, in St. Louis, MO, and switch our mode of transport, for the final time, to solo canoes, with our ultimate destination the Gulf of Mexico, via New Orleans, LA. When we reach the Brackish water, we will have traveled 4,000 miles, over the course of seven months; having eaten enough rice and beans to last a lifetime.
As young girls and teenagers when we encountered situations we were unsure about, we often heard the phrase, “just be confident”. But what does that mean? How do I do that? It was confusing and frustrating to hear a word attached to an expectation with little understanding of how to achieve it. We needed role models, to see it and experience it, and tools to begin to understand it. It was through our experiences with wilderness travel and extended expeditions that we each discovered how to build confidence: through positive risk-taking, processing failure, and celebrating success. By learning to process these experiences, we built confidence and the next risk didn’t seem so intimating. By repeating this process, both on expeditions and off, we felt an increasing internal inspiration to take on greater challenges. This is the heart of our confidence-building curriculum, which we will deliver through adventure learning models, including our partnership with the Wilderness Classroom, an organization that connects with thousands of students yearly through their educational website.
We have developed this confidence-building curriculum with the goal of reaching middle and high school-aged girls, via the educational website. We will also facilitate confidence-building workshops in towns and cities along the route, connecting with even more girls and women. We will document our experiences on the expedition, uploading video, photographs, and daily events, in real time, along with curriculum materials and activities, to our educational website. The expedition will serve as a platform for exploring what confidence is and how to build it. We will showcase our successes, failures, triumphs, and challenges on the rivers and the tools we use to persevere.
We have been busy interviewing girls and women in Minnesota the past few months, hosting brunches to talk about what it means to be a confident woman, as well as the challenges faced in having confidence in the world today. These have been extremely rich conversations with engaging and captivating themes emerging. We are excited to share these conversations with you! You could even be interviewed for the documentary. As we canoe through towns and cities in 14 different states our goal is to connect with girls and women, spreading the conversation and working towards a collective confidence.
There are still tremendous obstacles for females of all ages to be confident individuals. We are socially conditioned from a young age to avoid risk, especially physical risks. We need a seismic cultural shift for girls and women to live as confident risk-takers, not afraid of offering the wrong answer, playing in the mud and raising our hands!
This documentary will be a vehicle for change, creating inspiration and providing real examples of women in the process of building confidence. It is also a story in action as we document the seven months we are backpacking, rafting, and canoeing the 4th longest river system in the world. It will not just be the beautiful, inspiring, and incredible moments that an expedition this size has to offer. We will not shy away from showing our failures and the dirty, challenging, want-to-quit moments. That is a critical message we are sending – learning from failure is how you build confidence. As women, we cannot let fear of not knowing the right answer or getting it perfect, stop us from stepping up to the challenges we face. The documentary will capture all of this, with the goal of creating a lasting resource for other women to create their own sources of confidence, put their goals into action, and live a life they envision for themselves.
Every individual who makes a contribution will receive an electronic copy of the documentary upon completion.
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We hope you will follow along! Thank you!
Risks and challenges
This is a perfect fit with our philosophy of confidence building, which is rooted in taking on challenges and positive risks. Our project is ABOUT risks and challenges! First, this is the biggest expedition any of us have ever done. From the challenges of weather, like 50 mile per hour winds forcing us off the river for days at a time, to snow at the beginning, and rain and hail throughout the summer and fall months to the interpersonal challenges of being with the same person for an extended period of time and pushing ones self beyond preconceived limitations. That is not to say we aren’t prepared for this challenge - Lisa and Alyce both have extensive experience with personal expeditions, backcountry travel, and leading people on camping expeditions (along with the necessary wilderness medicine skills, just in case).
There are inherent risks in film projects, from equipment breaking down, to memory cards not working and losing footage. Victoria, as our Artistic Director has the skills and experience to create solutions and keep on filming. Lisa and Alyce have been learning more about framing shots and filming themselves, since they will need to collect footage out on the Rivers, when Victoria is not able to access them.
As the SOC crew, we have the passion and drive to accomplish these goals and the willingness to learn from our mistakes. We also like each other’s company a whole lot, which is good because we are going to be together for the next seven months.Learn about accountability on Kickstarter
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