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Follow the story of a family of five as they backpack over 2000 miles from Georgia to Maine.

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Beyond our Boundaries

You are funding the production of a video series about a family of five thru-hiking the Appalachian Trail. The series will be filmed, edited, and published as it happens; starting with trip preparations in early 2014 and concluding with post-hike re-entry late in the fall.

We are the Tougas Family - Damien, Renee, Celine, Laurent, and Brienne. In April 2014 we are starting our long anticipated and planned-for thru-hike of the Appalachian Trail. We want to share this story with you: the joys and discoveries, our experience and mistakes, to maybe inspire and challenge you to have your own adventures.

For six months our family will be hiking the trail; carrying all our gear on our backs, hiking twelve to twenty miles a day, setting up camp, and cooking and eating in the woods. Half of a year living in the outdoors.

Is this safe for families? How much weight can kids carry? Do kids even want to do this? Won't they miss video games, friends, and their personal space? What healthy foods can you eat when you're burning over 5,000 calories a day? How much does it cost a family to do something like this? Why would families even want to do this?

Fund our project to find out the answers to these questions and more.

The Video Series

The goal of this project is to create an online video series. The video series will be released in two phases:

  • A Monthly Subscription, as it Happens: Subscribers can follow the journey as it happens. Videos will be viewable online in a private social setting where subscribers can post comments, ask questions, and have influence over future episodes.
  • A Purchasable Video Series: When the project is complete, the video series will be made available for purchase in multiple formats: as individual videos or as a complete package, and in both downloadable and DVD formats.

The Anatomy of an Episode

Each 10 to 15 minute video episode will have one or more segments. At minimum, one segment will always be the story of our hike and how it is progressing. Are we still getting along? What are we doing about the kids' constant hunger? About our constant hunger? What do we do when we just want to call it quits? These honest story telling segments will capture the highs, the lows, and everything in between.

Along with the story, we will mix-and-match other segments into the episodes as we see fit. Some example segments might include:

  • Trail school: What does it look like to homeschool on the Appalachian Trail?
  • Interesting places: Highlights of interesting locations we discover. 
  • People profiles: Highlights of some of the interesting people we meet.
  • Trail culture: The Appalachian Trail has a culture all its own. What does it look like?
  • Q&A: We answer subscriber questions.
  • How-to: A demonstration of how we do a particular thing/action/etc. These may be inspired by or done in conjunction with Q&A segments.
  • Reviews: How is the gear holding up? What is working? What isn't? 
  • Outtakes: I am sure there will be lots to laugh about.

Release Plan

In February 2014 we will release the first video episode. In March we will release two video episodes, and April through September (while we are on the trail) we will release three video episodes per month. We will also release one to three post-hike video episodes in the fall, depending on whether or not we feel there is still enough of a story to tell.

All together, with your support, we will produce more than 20 episodes telling the story of our family thru-hike.

Logistics

While we're on the trail we'll be taking video footage but we will not have the time or opportunity to edit that material and publish the episodes. In order to achieve our goals, we are partnering with a video editor who will edit, produce, and publish each episode for us.

Whenever we get to a town stop along the way, we will mail the memory cards to our editor who will in turn produce and publish the videos.

Meet the Family

Location independent in our work, our family currently makes our home on the beautiful Gaspe peninsula of Quebec, where we hike and ski in the Chic Choc Mountains of the International Appalachian Mountain Range.

Our family has been hiking together for nearly a decade, mostly in Maine and New Hampshire. A few years ago we added backpacking and backcountry skiing to our favorite activities. We have been dreaming about thru-hiking the Appalachian Trail for years.

Damien

 Dad. Early forties-something. Damien is a web consultant and programmer. Damien grew up in the Rocky Mountains of Western Canada and mountain sport runs in his blood.

Passionate about minimalism, healthy living, outdoor activity, and shoes (yes, shoes) Damien is the founder and editor-in-chief of Toe Salad, an online publication that supports and advances minimalist foot-powered adventure, and is dedicated to the health of active feet.

Damien has been leading and guiding his family in the outdoors - lightweight hiking, backpacking and backcountry skiing - for nearly a decade. An editor at Backpacking Light, Damien brings to this project a problem solving mindset, technical aptitude, patience, and servant-leadership expedition experience.

Renee

Mom. Late thirties-something. Renee is a homeschooler and a homemaker; she is a story teller, a seeker and celebrator of beautiful things.

A blogger and photographer passionate about intentional family living, freedom education, creativity, and beauty, Renee writes a memoirist blog called FIMBY for Fun in My Back Yard.

Renee is a rooted adventurer, an avid hiker and outdoors woman. She spends her days living the life she wants to live, and as a writer and homeschool coach she encourages others to do the same. Renee brings her organizational skills, attention to detail, a "get-it-done" energy, and mother's touch to this project.

Celine

 Oldest daughter. Teenager. Celine is a homeschooled high school student, an artisan doll maker, and fantasy and sci-fi fan.

A Japanophile, Celine is interested in all things Japanese, rock music, reading, role playing games, British humor, history, video games, and drawing.

A self proclaimed geek (and proud of it!), Celine brings to this project her clean design sensibilities, technical skills, steady-as-she goes attitude, and good tunes.

Laurent

 Middle son. Teenager. Laurent is a homeschooled middle school student, a "people person", and naturalist.

A talented artist, Laurent loves reading and drawing graphic novels and is interested in animals, video games, taekwondo, snowboarding, and marine and freshwater ecology.

Compassionate and empathetic, Laurent brings to this project his love for animals and people, an optimistic outlook, and creative thinking.

Brienne

 Youngest daughter. Pre-teen. Brienne is a homeschooled middle school student, a competitive runner, and fashionista.

A writer, Brienne is interested in cooking, sewing, dress up, photography, skiing, fairy stories, and make up.

The baby of the family, Brienne brings to this project her competitive spirit, a "never say die" mindset, and pink bling.

Funding the Project

Rewards

By funding this project, you can gain access to one of three types of rewards:

  • Product reward: By funding us at the $10, $25, $50, and $100 levels, you will gain access to some or all of our released videos. Videos will be viewable online, with the option to download the HD video files if you donate $100.
  • Advertising reward: Each published video has spots for three brand logos. One logo is a full-screen title sponsor logo, that appears before the title (i.e. Company X presents...) and the other two logos will be displayed after the title together (in the same frame). The title sponsor will have their logo displayed on all videos. The bronze, silver, gold, and platinum level sponsors will have their logo displayed on one or more episodes, depending on the funding level. Additionally, each advertiser will have their logo, a bio, and a link on the bottom of the online video pages. There will also be a Beyond our Boundaries project sponsor page displaying all logos. 
  • Public speaking reward: If you would like to have one of us speak about our experience at your public event (after the hike), one funding level exists where we will do this. This will be done at the location of your choosing, however, you must pay the travel expenses.

Where Are Your Funds Going?

We've been preparing for our family thru-hike for a long time now. Years actually. Saving money, buying gear, and setting up our life so we can take six months to do a long hike. Creating a video series of our hike takes gear and trip preparation to a whole different level. It requires equipment, technology, logistics, and the services of talented people.

We're not asking you to fund our AT thru-hike. We're asking you to help us produce a video series of our AT thru-hike.

Funds for this project will go towards:

  • Product delivery. This includes costs associated with hosting and delivering the videos over the web to subscribers. This also includes costs for the day-to-day webmastering that needs to happen to keep the project flowing smoothly while we are on the trail.
  • Video editing/production. Having a great story is not enough to make quality content, we need the help of a good video editor too. We will be paying for the services of a video editor to bring out the best in our footage, and really make the story come alive. 
  • Equipment and technology: Hard drives, memory cards, battery charging technology, etc. There is a lot of technology required to make the process of capturing the footage and sending it to our editor flow smoothly.
  • Process: Incidentals, like mailing memory cards back and forth to our editor, for example.
  • Videography: We will be expending a considerable amount of time, energy, and money to make these videos happen. Your funds will be used to support our family work in capturing this story.

Any funds we achieve over-and-above our project goal will go towards improving the quality of the series. Whether it means adding extra equipment, or upgrading technology to improve the user experience, or spending extra time in town stops to manage the project. We are not going to set stretch goals, as we want to do one thing and do it well.

Your Kickstarter funds make this video series possible and, giving you the benefit of watching the adventure happen from the comfort of your own home.

Risks and challenges Learn about accountability on Kickstarter

Thru-hiking the Appalachain Trail is a huge undertaking. Simply hiking the trail in itself will present a large number of challenges on a daily basis, let alone attempting to produce a video series along the way. According to the Appalachian Trail Conservancy:

"The most common reasons for a hiker leaving the Trail sooner than planned is due to an injury, running out of money, family matters at home, or finding the experience was not what was anticipated."

To maximize our potential for success on this project, we have taken numerous steps:

1) We have built a strong support network. We are bloggers and writers, through which over the years we have made a lot of friends and contacts in the outdoors and homeschooling communities. Many people have stepped forward offering to help us out in any way they can. Whether it be by providing us a place to stay for the night while we are on the trail, help with logistics, or trail advice, etc. We don't feel like we are going into this alone, and really appreciate how so many people we have never met are reaching out to lend a hand however they can.

2) We have a great team of sponsors. Several companies have generously donated clothing, gear, and food for our trip. These companies support what we are doing, want to see us succeed, and are helping to ensure that we have the right gear for the conditions we will face.

3) We have realistic expectations of the difficulty involved. Understanding and equipping ourselves for the challenges we may face has been an integral part of our trail preparation. We are going in with eyes as wide-open as we possibly can so that we are not surprised when difficulty strikes.

4) We put health first. We have kids, we are responsible adults. We will not be pushing them, or ourselves, too hard. We will ensure that everyone has adequate rest and nutrition, so we are preforming as well as we can on the trail.

If, for whatever reason, we are unable to complete our hike and thus are not able to finish the video series, we will have to evaluate our options in those circumstances. Will we be able to take a break, then get back on the trail at a later date? Do we just finish the series where we are? Either way, we will talk with our supporters and backers to determine what the best course forward is.

FAQ

Have a question? If the info above doesn't help, you can ask the project creator directly.

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