The Happy Camper: The Year of Virtual Outdoor Shows and Film Festivals


This is usually the time of year where I prepare to present at the upcoming outdoor shows: booking flights and cheap motels and choosing what to wear on stage. Now, with all the shows being virtual due to Covid, I’m trying to decide which wall in my house makes a better backdrop, launder my favourite sweatpants and sharpen my skills on Zoom and Google Meet.

I’ll definitely miss the hugs and handshakes of the live shows. The in-person vibe is so much better than screensharing a PowerPoint presentation to a virtual gathering that looks like the introduction to The Brandy Bunch television show. But at least the majority of shows are still happening. And when I’m not presenting, I can take in some fantastic talks by some amazing outdoor gurus.

Here’s a list of ones you should check out, and some that I’m presenting at.


Frostbite Symposium, Alberta

This show happened a couple weeks back. The positive spin on virtual shows is that the majority of presentations are left online for you to watch at your leisure:

Hot Tent 101 with Ryan Fox

Kochanski Super Shelter with Jay Kilgannon

The symposium also linked folks to the following presentations that were being hosted by other winter campers:

Winter Camping Shelter Options with Dan Cooke

Advanced Hot Tenting Tips with Luigi Salerno, Wilderness Canoe Association

I was invited to be the keynote speaker for the Frostbite Symposium. Show organizer David Delafield set it all up. We had a discussion panel on Outdoor Leadership. Included were outdoor guides Dale and Colleen Kiselyk, university students from Burman University, university students from the Netherlands and wilderness guide Raoul Kluivers from the Netherlands. For two wonderful hours we answered questions, posed questions and created an amazing conversation that explored the challenges of outdoor leadership.

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Feb 16 to 27 – Quiet Adventure Symposium, Michigan

The 26th Annual Quiet Adventures Symposium—now virtual—will come to you over five evenings in February. Each evening offers two parallel sessions with new speakers every 30 minutes. The first two presentations begin at 7 p.m. and the final two speakers begin at 9 p.m.

The 2021 event starts on Tuesday, February 16 and will continue on Thursday, February 18. Presentations will come to you the following week on February 23 and 25. Saturday, February 27 at 7 p.m. brings the Grand Finale, concluding with a concert by Jerry Vandiver.

Here’s the breakdown of presentations:

I’ll be presenting on Paddlers Who Motivate Paddlers (February 16, 9 p.m.). During the initial lockdown in the Spring of 2020, I completed well over two dozen of my popular Whisky Fireside Chats with some of the most renowned paddlers in Canada, U.S. and the U.K.—young and old—who have motivated us to paddle wilderness areas. I have compiled a best of the best presentation. I also finish off the show on February 27 with a Q&A with renowned paddler Cliff Jacobson.

Wilderness Canoe Symposium, Toronto

This is the 36th year of the annual mid-winter symposium. It’s been a gathering of kindred spirits in search of knowledge and a sense of place. Its purpose is to educate and remind us of how sacred, fragile and endangered the remaining natural wilderness areas are, and to celebrate wilderness experiences in our northern Canadian habitat. Each speaker offers a unique perspective on far ranging topics that include subjects such as ecology, First Nations, guiding, history, unique trips and conservation.

Registration is now open. This year the event will be run virtually on Zoom on February 17 from 6 p.m. to 9 p.m. (ET). Expect to see 4-5 presentations in the usual format, with some Q&A time built in. There will be a short wilderness music interlude halfway through the evening.

February 24 to April 5 – Outdoor Adventure Show

The Outdoor Adventure Show was officially cancelled a couple of weeks ago. But they have something else to tide us over until 2022. It’s called The Go Ultimate Adventure Planning Guide.

This all new, online Idea Guide will promote the best adventures and gear to adventure seekers across Canada.

The guide will be launched February 24 and run to April 5 with separate editions for Toronto, Vancouver, Calgary and Montréal.  A massive digital campaign will hit each market, plus huge promotion to Outdoor Adventure Show past attendees. A number of presenters—including me—will be posting a pre-recorded video/presentation in their seminar section of the guide.


March 12-14 – Canoecopia, Madison

This show will feature 80+ online presentations, 70+ virtual exhibitors as well as special deals and incentives on gear for ticket holders. Virtual tickets are only $15 and most presentations will be available for viewing up to 60 days after the event.

I’ll be presenting on Paddlers Who Motivate Paddlers. I will also be presenting on Ontario’s Lost Canoe Routes, a full live Q&A and Canoe Tripping Safety Q&A with other paddlers, including Cliff Jackson.

Paddling Film Festival

Live theatre screenings are limited this year to just a few fortunate cities. The rest of us can still support our dedicated 130+ local hosts in a socially distanced and virtual film screening of the 16th World Tour in the comfort of our homes.


Banff Film Festival

This celebrated annual event is also being done virtually. You have a choice of signing up (and paying for tickets) for the best of 2020 as well as the new 2021 films. It’s best to see if your local outdoor store is offering it to help support your community’s screening. By purchasing and viewing the programs from your hometown tour host’s unique link, they will receive a portion of the revenue.