The AdventureKEEN Blog
In Memoriam, Ritchey Halphen
With incredible sadness, we share the loss of our dear friend and respected colleague Ritchey Halphen. Ritchey passed away unexpectedly on April 14th. Ritchey was a cherished friend to many, a loving partner to Tom, and what one production artist accurately described as “nothing less than an editor’s editor, the crème de la crème.”
A talented editor and project manager, Ritchey helped shape the direction of many books at Menasha Ridge Press and AdventureKEEN during his 18 years at the company. Notably, Ritchey was longtime co-author and editor of AdventureKEEN’s The Unofficial Guide to Disney Cruise Line, which is published annually. His incredible attention to detail benefited many of the complex and fact-rich titles published by the company. Ritchey loved dogs and was committed to helping animals in need.
Ritchey was integral to any project he worked on, offering so much time to polish a manuscript to perfection—something that his authors and co-workers greatly appreciated.
We already miss his insights, wit, and conversation so much.
AdventureKEEN and Bookstores Donate to Binc for Fifth Year
We are excited to share the results of last year’s SHOP LOCAL, LIVE LOCAL campaign in support of the Book Industry Charitable Foundation (Binc) and independent bookstores. In 2022, publisher AdventureKEEN and indie bookstores raised $9,670 for Binc. A matching $9,670 is currently being dispersed and mailed to all participating independent bookstores.
For the past five years, the SHOP LOCAL, LIVE LOCAL program has matched the 3% store rebates for a donation to Binc; to date, nearly $30,000 has been raised. Binc has put that money to good use by directly supporting bookstores with various needs nationwide.
Starting this year, changes to the SHOP LOCAL, LIVE LOCAL programwill make room for an even more significant impact in 2024. Going forward, AdventureKEEN will donate a percentage of the company’s overall indie bookstore profits to Binc. This move will allow us to give a larger donation to Binc each year without the need for complex bookstore enrollment procedures.
AdventureKEEN will continue our SHOP LOCAL, LIVE LOCAL mission across our entire brand and family of imprints. We are committed to providing stores with great resources on how to be regionally minded and support local outdoor and nature initiatives.
The Book Industry Charitable Foundation (Binc) is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization that coordinates charitable programs to strengthen the bookselling and comic bookstore retailing communities. Established in 1996, the core program provides assistance to bookstore and comic bookstore owners and their employees who have demonstrated financial needs arising from severe hardship and/or emergency circumstances. Support for the Foundation’s programs and services comes from all sectors of the book and comic industries. Additional information can be found at bincfoundation.org.
Through SHOP LOCAL, LIVE LOCAL, AdventureKEEN hopes to help readers find new outdoor activities and to reinforce the importance of shopping locally. The program aims to enlarge the scope of support to Binc. AdventureKEEN understands, emotionally and financially, the operational challenges and intrinsic rewards of selling books and Binc’s role in helping booksellers. AdventureKEEN is incredibly grateful for the opportunity to donate to Binc again this year.
The Castner Range in now a National Monument
Last week, Castner Range was officially designated as a national monument!
As members of The Conservation Alliance, we’re excited to celebrate major successes in conservation. The protection of the Castner Range represents 50 years of advocacy efforts led by the community in El Paso to make sure this land is protected for its cultural, ecological, and historical values. This new monument protects nearly 7,000 acres of mountainous terrain between majority-Latino city neighborhoods and Franklin Mountains State Park in El Paso, Texas.
Thanks to The Conservation Alliance grantees: Nuestra Tierra, Monumental Shift, and Fronterra Land Alliance for your hard work in protecting this landscape for communities, culture, and outdoor recreation. We’re excited to celebrate this success with you.
Successes like this one are one of the key reasons AdventureKEEN is a Conservation Alliance member. You can learn more: https://www.conservationalliance.com/
Cheryl Armstrong: The future of conservation depends on diversity
In 2006 Dudley Edmundson conducted a series of interviews with African American outdoors-people that culminated in the book Black & Brown Faces in America’s Wild Places.
A lot has changed, in the world, and around the United States, in the 17 years since Black & Brown Faces in America’s Wild Places was first published. Yet, when reading through the interviews, it is easy to see the common themes and energy that link all of their experiences with the growing outdoor community who LOOK like them and share their passion for nature and the outdoors.
Over the coming months we will be sharing the interviews from Black & Brown Faces in America’s Wild Places here on our blog, and we hope you can find your voice to add to those celebrating their passion for the outdoors.
Cheryl Armstrong, President and CEO,
James P. Beckwourth Mountain Club
Heroes and Mentors
The most important mentor in my life was my father. I guess you could describe him as a black Ernest Hemingway. He was a big game hunter and trophy fisherman; he was way ahead of his time. We traveled all around the world during my childhood and did outdoor activities as far back as I can remember.
We would travel to Mexico for fishing and traveled to different countries around the world visiting historic places, climbing the pyramids in Mexico—you name it, we did it. My father traveled to Africa quite a bit in the late 1950s as a big game hunter; he would go on safari there. He also wrote and was a civil and women’s rights leader and a great speaker, too. I had a great mentor in my father.
Minorities in Our Wild Places
I don’t think that African Americans and other people of color spend enough time in the outdoors. The reason, I believe, is because they just don’t have the opportunities and access to do so. Getting into the outdoors oftentimes requires transportation and many urban residents do not have reliable transportation. Another factor is that it takes a certain amount of know-how and equipment to do these things. Many of them simply cannot afford it, nor do they have the skill sets to be able to safely do things like camp or backpack. In order to get that knowledge, they need access to a program or organization like the Beckwourth Mountain Club.
Youth and Wilderness
One of the rewarding parts of running the Beckwourth outdoor and youth program here is experiencing firsthand the joy and awe of children who come through our program. This is Denver and we come very close to the front range of the Rocky Mountains, with its alpine lakes and flower-filled meadows within an hour or so of the city. However, 87 percent of the children who come through our program, although born and raised in Denver, have never been to the mountains and seen this breathtaking scenery. Most of them have never experienced what it is like to climb along a mountain trail or have never been camping. Oftentimes when they first have this experience of an overnight of camping, or seeing the night sky away from the city, the looks on their faces are truly remarkable.
This is a long-term mentoring program that is not just a one-time camp-out or one-week trip; kids can sign up in our program as early as age 8 and remain in our program until they are age 18, and even after that they can come back and work as part-time program assistants and also as youth leaders. A big part of the program is to not only introduce urban youth to the outdoors, but to seek youths who really enjoy the outdoors, key in on those particular kids and encourage them to pursue careers in natural resources fields. We help young people with career prep, college scholarships, and summer internships with national partners such as the Park Service, the Environmental Protection Agency, the U.S. Forest Service, the Bureau of Land Management, and others who are interested in diversifying their workforce.
The keyword is “diversifying.” Everybody is jumping on the bandwagon because they realize that the population demographics in the country are changing, and if we don’t impress upon this younger and more diverse generation the importance of protecting our wilderness areas, then we are all going to be in trouble. It’s very important to pass on those ethics and foster stewardship with our young people. Plus it is important to show them, contrary to what most city residents think, that the outdoors and outdoor activities can be enjoyed by everyone, not just by wealthy or middle-class white people.
Best Outdoor Experiences and Favorite Places
My favorite outdoor activity is and always has been horseback riding. I have been riding since I was five years old and still love it. Being on the back of a horse on a trail, climbing up into the mountains and wilderness areas of Colorado makes me feel like I am truly at home. Camping out under the stars and seeing the beauty of the constellations with no light pollution from cities puts me in a whole other state of mind. It relaxes me and takes away all the stress that I may have had. Nothing makes me feel the same way; nothing is even comparable.
Some of my more memorable experiences in the outdoors with my father and my family include touring the ruins of the fabulous city Angkor Wat in Cambodia and climbing the pyramids in the ruins of the ancient Mayan city, Chichen Itza, on the Yucatan Peninsula in Mexico. I remember holding a huge python in Algiers, Morocco, and watching a ceremonial snake dance with live cobras. We also rode camels at sunset in the desert there; it was just beautiful. We rode elephants while in Thailand and Cambodia. My father enjoyed life and enjoyed world travel, and he has given me outdoor experiences I will never forget. I feel very fortunate.
Here in the United States, some of my more memorable experiences include seeing the Grand Canyon at sunrise. And seeing a female grizzly with her cubs and, on the same morning, a wolf pack in the Lamar Valley of Yellowstone National Park. In New Mexico I took a night hike at the cliff dwelling of Bandolier National Monument. We saw thousands and thousands of bats emerging from their caves at dusk.
But my favorite place to spend time outdoors is in Colorado’s Rocky Mountain National Park. I say that even though I have traveled all over the world and seen some pretty incredible places. I have been in just about every state in this country, which includes visits to several national parks and state parks, but for me nothing can compare with the beauty of Rocky Mountain National Park.
Being a Face of Color in Remote Places
On field trips with youth groups here in Colorado, the children always notice that whenever we go somewhere hiking or camping, people stare at us. White people stare at our groups of African American or Latino youth or adults—it happens with our group every time we go on a field trip, simply because they are not accustomed to seeing people of color in the outdoors. There is also a certain amount of prejudice in some of the rural areas that we go to, which includes unfriendly and rude staring that is probably meant to intimidate us. The kids always ask why people are staring at them, and we tell them it is because they are special. Our program is very disciplined and structured, and we teach the children to conduct themselves in a very respectable manner so their behavior does not warrant the attention they get.
Environmental Advocacy and the Future
Stewardship might be the most important part of our program here in the Beckwourth Mountain Club. I am very proud of the fact that we not only teach our young people about the environment, but we also teach them the importance of protecting, preserving and managing this country’s natural resources. We do that by partnering with national organizations like the National Park Service, the U.S. Forest Service, Colorado State Parks and other organizations. Every long trip we do with the youth program also incorporates work projects. The kids not only learn that it is fun being in the outdoors, but they also have to learn how to protect the environment—how to restore trails, how to restore and protect natural habitats—and they learn about different ecosystems and how they function.
I do many presentations about the Beckwourth Mountain Club and its efforts to increase diversity in the outdoors. I have traveled to national conferences around the country as a guest speaker for seminars, panels and workshops. One comment I frequently hear from non-people-of-color never ceases to amuse me—“I didn’t know groups like yours existed!” People of color, whether they are Black, Latino or American Indian, have always had a deep connection to the land. It is part of their culture. They lived on the land, and they survived by living off of the land. It has only been in the last 100 years or so that people of color have become urbanized.
Another frequent comment I hear comes from environmental groups. They are surprised about the results of recent surveys. The surveys showed that people of color who reside in urban areas: (1) want their children to be exposed to the outdoors; (2) are very supportive of protecting the environment; and (3) look forward to opportunities to get into the outdoors. Why should this be surprising? Why would urban residents and people of color not want these opportunities for themselves and their children?
A New Release We’re Excited About: Wildflowers of Texas, 2nd edition
Releasing today, just in time for the upcoming spring season, is the new edition to the Adventure Publication’s popular flower identification guide – Wildflowers of Texas, 2nd edition.
This field guide is organized by color and size, dramatically speeding up your ability to identify every Texas flower you come across. To help make identification even quicker, the 200 most common wildflowers in Texas – and only Texas – are collected, so you don’t have to waste time sifting through flowers from other parts of the country.
This 432-page book by Nora Bowers, Rick Bowers, and Stan Tekiela features beautiful, full-color, full-page photos. Every entry also includes fact-filled information lists highlighting particular flower features to aid you in identifying flowers. Each flower entry also has icons pointing out specific identification points to help speed up your ability to identify Texas flowers. The book’s design uses a color-based chapter organization that set this field guide apart from the competition. Inside you’ll see the book organized by the colors:
Blue, Brown, Green, Orange, Pink, Purple, Red, White, and Yellow. The book also includes a super handy Checklist, Index, and Glossary.
This new edition includes updated photographs, expanded information, naturalist notes, and even more of the authors’ expert insights.
Perfectly sized for the pocket or bag, this trim volume is an excellent companion on the trail, picnic, or chair side table.
Here is a little bit more about the three expert authors of Wildflowers of Texas, 2nd edition:
Nora Bowers is a writer and photographer. A member of the North American Nature Photography Association, Nora’s credits include Birder’s World Magazine and many books and calendars. She is the co-author of field guides for several states.
Rick Bowers is a photographer, naturalist, and writer. He has been photographing nature for more than 35 years. Rick’s photo credits span the gamut, from National Geographic to local publications. He is the co-author of field guides for several states.
Naturalist, wildlife photographer, and writer Stan Tekiela is the author of more than 190 field guides, nature books, children’s books, and playing cards, presenting many species of birds, mammals, reptiles, amphibians, trees, wildflowers and cacti in the United States. With a Bachelor of Science degree in Natural History from the University of Minnesota and as an active professional naturalist for more than 30 years, Stan studies and photographs wildlife throughout the United States and Canada. He has received various national and regional awards for his books and photographs. Also a well-known columnist and radio personality, his syndicated column appears in over 25 newspapers, and his wildlife programs are broadcast on several Midwest radio stations.
An interview with author Ryan Jacobson – Adventure Publications
There is a wonderful post by the Adventure Publications team sharing Up Where the Stars Are, by Ryan Jacobson and with art by Michelle Hazelwood Hyde. Click through to read about author Ryan Jacobson’s inspiration and writing process. Plus, check out the AMAZING images from the artwork in the book. The book will be out April 11, 2023 and it is available for pre-order now.