Dave Cornthwaite looks back at Yestival 2018
“We grew out of a tiny little idea to go camping with strangers, and since have made a difference to thousands of lives around the world. Yestival is a celebration of this idea that we can all have a positive impact”
As with everything in the early stages of the YesTribe, Yestival wasn’t so much an accident as a passing thought which stuck, then became reality, and ultimately turned into a ritual.
At the end of this week the fourth Yestival will open its gates, and if you’re one of those beautiful souls wandering up the wooded track towards our Field of Dreams in West Sussex, please know that you being there really means the world to us.
We’re not a professional festival-creating company, we don’t do this for profit or pay. Instead, the very reason that a handful of new friends created the first Yestival in October 2015 is exactly the same one that drives this weekend’s gathering. We find ourselves as part of a community of people who don’t let inexperience or doubt get in the way of doing something that matters.
“Shall we run a festival?”
It was that simple. Well, until the planning started!
But club together the varied experiences of strangers-now-friends and sure enough, less than two months later the first humans were taking a walk towards our newly built field of tents. A big SAYYESMORE sign overlooked the grounds, warm messages greeted all-comers and I remember running up and down the track just hugging people and saying thank you. “From the bottom of MY heart, thank you.”
When a choice is made by someone else to support something you conjured up from nothing, well, validation should never be underrated.
From festivals to nights of adventure, hundreds of campouts and overseas trips and coffee mornings and giving a double decker bus a brand new life in the countryside, these creations are the result of us leaping onto the inklings of interest from anyone who once came camping and then uttered the immortal (and sometimes regrettable) words, “is there anything I can do to help?”
Of course, the answer was always a resounding “yes!”
It’s not easy running an accidental non profit. I set out to get more folks outside and to turn my social media ‘friends’ into real humans. I didn’t envisage leading a team or dealing with the endless turnover of volunteers or end of year tax returns or especially the occasional trolling that comes with having an online presence.
I’d just imagined the benefits of bringing people together in the great outdoors and even the concept of a bus in the countryside, but what lies behind these efforts was a footnote. And I’m quite shortsighted so footnotes have never attracted my attention. Yes people decide where to go and that decision includes the leaping (or slow, painful crawling over) of all obstacles en route.
Yestival is a celebration of another year passed, of hundreds of adventures and projects and good things done. Of the power of community and the results of an organisation that relies on non-transactional kindness.
And more importantly, Yestival is the way SayYesMore survives. It costs a ridiculous amount of money to put tents up in a field, order in caterers and benches and firewood and stages and lights and sound equipment and gear for the crew. Drinks and insurance forms and permissions and fire extinguishers and toilets! Don’t forget the toilets...
We made a loss for the first two years and now we’re still just inching over the finish line. But we always hoped that the months it takes to make Yestival happen would ultimately mean we could cover our costs for the year and that hope rests entirely on two things happening:
The scrimping and saving on materials coupled with the generosity of our speakers and staff.
And the fact that people decide to come.
And that is pretty special. That people decide to come to Yestival makes all of this worthwhile. We can create the most incredible setting, but if nobody is there it’s worthless. That final outcome is totally out of our hands. It’s up to you.
And here’s why I want to let you know that you matter.
You walking down that track is worth moderating tens of thousands of social media posts a year. Those smiles at the entrance gate and the selfies by the big sign, it’s worth the sleepless nights and the stress and the worry of committing to a big, expensive event. The cheers and laughter and applause in the main tent on Friday night is worth death by spreadsheets (oh my, the spreadsheets!). The thank you hugs all weekend: worth it. The social media posts afterwards: worth it. The “I’ll never forget this weekend” whispered in the ear before you walk back down the track, into the world you came from: worth it. When you spend an extra £10 to buy a Kindness of Stranger ticket for someone who you may not meet - you make OUR day.
So when you’re on the approach to Yestival, clear your head and take a moment. You’re not just someone who purchased a ticket to any old event. You’re not just a number to us, you’re a name and a soul. Hugging numbers is no fun at all.
You coming to Yestival makes our thousands of donated hours worthwhile.
The murmur of anticipation before each talk, it’s glorious.
Those little messages we find written on the SayYesMore sign as we limb-wearingly store everything away before the sun drops on the Sunday after it all happened; bloody hell they’re special.
The sound of your wellied footsteps walking down that track makes my heart pound with gratitude. Because of you, all the effort that the SayYesMore team put in is worthwhile.
And if there’s anything any of us should require from our time, our efforts, our hopes and our decisions: it is for these things to be worthwhile.
And my promise to you, seeing as you’re making the effort to come along, is that we have done everything we can to make your Yestival journey worthwhile. We can’t wait to see what you do next.
If you haven’t already, join the YesTribe on Facebook, it’s free!
And do consider the YesBus as a venue for your next work event, or simply a weekend of country time in 2019.
Finally get involved on your social media channel of choice:
Say yes more , make life memorable
Media Release - 30th September 2018: For immediate release
1000-Mile Waterbike Adventure Removes 150,000 items of Plastic from England’s Waterways
At 3pm on Sunday 30th September, a unique community project will complete an adventure around England, taking five months and the kindness of strangers to remove over 60 tonnes of plastic from our waterways, towpaths and countryside.
Over 160 riders have taken part in The Waterbike Collective, a 1000-mile relay organised by The YesTribe, a community that uses social media to get people together in the great outdoors.
The inland journey around England’s rivers and canals invited a different rider each day to clean up a stretch of waterway, from the seat of a specially-made aquatic bicycle called a Schiller Bike. As the waterbike passed through major cities and through 25 counties, local clean-up initiatives and youth groups joined the adventure.
The project was the idea of record-breaking adventurer and SayYesMore founder Dave Cornthwaite, who has broken world distance records on skateboards, paddleboards and, in 2017 during a 1250 mile journey along Norway’s coastline, on the same waterbike that has cleaned England’s canals this Summer.
“The best way to encourage people to care about the environment is to provide opportunities to enjoy it,” Cornthwaite said. “This waterbike is a great way to turn heads and enable people to get outside and do their bit to help combat an increasing plastic pollution problem. It just takes a little effort from each of us to make a big difference and we’re delighted to have contributed this Summer.”
The Waterbike Collective will be finishing in Limehouse Basin at 3:30pm on Sunday 30th September, with many of the riders from the past five months coming to London to celebrate as the waterbike crosses the finish line.
Contact: Dave on 07872 986084 for further comment, interview or photo opportunity
Images for media use: (please credit photographer): http://bit.ly/waterbikecollectiveimages
Kevin Self offers a reflection of our monthly tales of adventure.
Last night I went to Yes Stories in London - ‘a night of inspiration.’ It was.
There is such a great feeling and a buzz being in a space like that - making new friends and catching up with friends wearing big smiles and sporting generous hugs and finding what they’re up to.
Then there’s that effervescent magic that rubs off when people have been up to stuff out in the world, filling their tanks of goodness and sharing what they got from it.
Last night I learned that:
- no kit and no time are not an excuse to do an adventure. There’s a heap of fine capital cities within a few days of England, there’s weekends, there’s Halfords and if your shoes aren’t up to it there’s always emergency Tesco sliders! 🚴♂️🚶♂️🚴♂️
- that you don’t need a map nor a compass to reconnect with yourself and walk the mountain route around Mont Blanc. Just book the flight and go with it. And trust in yourself (unless wild horses are involved)🐴🏔
- that everyone has a skill. And if yours is repairing aircraft then it just makes sense to build your own aircraft, put a Herby goes bananas engine in it, and fly around the world. And don’t forget your mountain bike. And, it’s ok not to have a cause. ‘Just because you can’ works just fine.🛩🌎
- that there’s something magical about taking yourself off on a solo adventure, to experiencing the world, that rheindeer are great listeners and your biggest fears very rarely come true. That sense of achievement from relying on yourself when your tent breaks or you can’t see your hand in front of your face from the clouds.🏕🙂🙂🔥🙂🙂😀
- that we have a global pandemic of mental health and some countries, or some sub societies at least, are doing a better job at supporting it through conversation and community. And awesome people like Dr Sophie are willing to take on dealing with it.🤝🌍
- that just because you have to do it alone and Siberia has come to stay is no reason not to take on your adventure. If you’re going to do it. Do it. And you can never, ever be too daft - like howling like a wolf with all your lungs on the top of the snowy downs. And there’s no bears Hampshire. 🐻❄️🏃♀️
- that you are never, ever too old, unfit, unable to take on life! I learned that there’s a triathlon - Arch to Arc - run from Marble Arch to the coast, swim the channel, cycle to the Arc de Triomphe in Paris. Simple. Or not. And I felt honoured to share a room with a man who at 49 became the fastest, oldest person to complete it, and still be so humble.🏃♂️🚴♂️🏊♂️🚀
Oh, and how could I forget, a special guest appearance by Ruth and Rhoda - these 2 aweome girls are going to smash a record this year cycling from Lands End to JoG on a trailer and trailer bike. Ruth is age 5 and Rhoda is age 3! That’s some pretty inspiring parenting Tom .👨👩👧👧🚲🚲🚲🚲
And overall... that people are kind, and generous in a pub in london on a cold Tuesday evening, and everywhere you open up to them in the world if you let them in.❤️
So what did I take away?
At all comes down to action
Commit, be, do, have
These stories could be mine. Could be yours in the future. The only difference is taking action now so that future doesn’t stay in tomorrow, just a nice chat in the pub. I had some great conversations around my ‘Home to Home’ solo run - from Godalming to Bath over Easter. I’ve got a physio triage today and next step is to find a cross country route that will avoid too much wayfinding. Simple 😊
Today’s % for my life is to commit - I am doing this and today I will set my route.🏃♂️💪🏅
The recent snow caused us to be cut-off for 4 days which was super-exciting for all of us. With all three roads into our village blocked by huge drifts we were limited to a radius of around 200m from our house. Initially, the prospect of entertaining our children within such a small area and ensuring we all didn’t get cabin fever felt insurmountable, but, we were proved wrong.
In fact, what happened was a snippet of times gone by. A time when motorised transport didn’t exist. When days were spent playing in and around the vicinity of the family home. When games and entertainment were what you made from what was around you.
There were some caveats, of course; we had a fridge full of food (thankfully we’d gone shopping the day the snow begun to fall), we had electricity, we had films to watch when it got too cold to be outside, and we had internet connection. So, we weren’t that cut-off at all.
Physically getting around, however, was a different story. The first obstacle we had to overcome, once the winds had died down enough to consider going outside, was the sheer depth of snow. The drifts were up to our waist in places, which was tricky enough for us adults, but for the children that meant a snow depth of chest height – the poor things were literally getting stuck in the snow!
After we dug ourselves out of our house – literally – we had to make the best use we could of our sledge to pull our son (4) and carrying our daughter (1) in a fireman’s lift proved the only way to move her without exhausting ourselves in the process. Wading through thick, deep snow while carrying a wee one on your hip is an energy-sapping affair!
The extent of our ‘world’ for 4 days, apart from keeping snug indoors, consisted of the 200m walk/wade to the end of our village where progress was blocked due to huge snowdrifts, our back garden and the field opposite our house.
So, how did we have such an awesome time during The Snowfall of 2018? Here’s my list of the Essentials for Fun in the Snow with wee children:
The main activities we enjoyed as a whole family in the field were:
- Sledging – going in pairs or singly, we found a great run and kept rotating the sliders.
- Snowboarding – parents are allowed to have fun too!
- Sliding – being kitted out in winter suits and waterproofs, we were all as slidy as slidy things, so after finding a nice steep drop, we all had a good go at sliding.
- Snowmen and igloos are also good fun, but with children as young as ours, they can easily get too cold to enjoy playing with the ‘end product’ as it can take a long time to build.
Essential to keeping everyone happy was thermal base layers, thick winter suits a.k.a. ‘zoot suits’ and double socks inside those welly boots. With the right clothes on and the ‘morale boosters’ mentioned above, we were able to play in the snow for over an hour each day.
Staying out in the Snow
Walking back up to the top of the field every time after sledging down was a mission, given the depth of snow. Not only that, but the biting wind was sweeping across the top too. This meant fruit and chocolate bites were needed to keep everyone’s spirits up and prolong our play in the fields. When it can take well over half an hour to get everything together and everyone kitted up and out the door you need to get as much time out of your trip as possible to have made it worth the effort of getting outside in the first place! This means morale boosters are vital part of your outdoor, winter play kit.
Two weary children with rosy cheeks filled with clean, fresh air and fun, exhilarating experiences coursing through their minds with them ready to eat their dinner and flop into bed – Parenting Win!
Good Old fashioned Fun?
Too right! I thought being cut-off for 4 days with the children would drive me stir crazy. Instead it opened my eyes to see that fun time with the children doesn’t need to have bells and whistles. It doesn’t need an hour’s drive to get there. It can all happen right by your house and all it needs is some motivation (not always easy when it’s cold outside and you’re tired from just being a parent, but worth making the effort if you can), some imagination and a big sense of FUN - if you make it fun, they will most likely have fun and that is what it’s all about.
Ryan is this blog's Family Adventure Editor. Ask him questions or suggest future article topics in the comments below.