19.08.2022 | Camp Report: Footprints

Aug 19, 2022 1:01 am

We protect what we love


FRIDAY . 19. 08. 22 .

Good morning Folks!

It’s been a really great week at FWP. A few of our team members went along to the Run Nation Film Tour (myself included), and wow!! It’s inspiring to see not only how people push their limits, but their reasons and drive. My personal favourite was of Lucy Clarke - an incredible female who embarked on an adventure of a lifetime, running the length of New Zealand via the Te Araroa Trail (3,054km) to set a Fastest Known Time. The rawness and emotions are perfectly captured, as is the scenery, commentary and laughs along the way. This film will have you reaching for your shoes (and blister prevention socks).

The remainder of this week’s newsletter is hosted by Paige Penrose - running superstar, wonderful human and FWP volunteer. If you’ve been following Paige on socials, you may be aware that she’s recently returned from a Footprints running camp in Colorado, US. I sent through a few questions that we received for Paige, and here is her experience...


Paige, pictured next to lake Columbine.


First and foremost, are you able to explain what the Footprints running camp is, how you came to know about it, and why you were drawn to it?

Footprints running camp is a program run by Dakota Jones (professional runner, all round epic human being) in the US. It is a week-long camp with 10 campers and 10 mentors and a couple of other industry professionals. Each camper applies to the camp with a project they would like to implement in their community to work towards a climate solution. Over the course of the week, we would refine these ideas, learn how to actually make it happen and maximise their impact. Each camper is then paired with a mentor. These mentors are no ordinary humans. They ranged from soil scientists to professional skiers to teachers to creative souls and the number of people in the room with a PhD at any given time is definitely not normal. 

Each day we would get up between 6-6:30am and move towards the breakfast table. At some point in the next hour Dakota would pipe up and give us the plan for that day’s run - usually somewhere between 1.5-2hrs, 8-20km and up to 1000m of elevation gain and no less than 500m. When running we’d talk about the environment we were in, favourite snacks, where we call home, how our projects were progressing - basically the usual wide ranging areas your brain wanders to on any run. If we were lucky there would be a river to have a wash in at the end before piling back in the van and heading back up to the mountain hut we called home at 3500m altitude. We’d put on warm dry clothes and head back to the dining tables for lunch before a little bit of quiet time until ‘class’ started at about 2:30pm.


St. Paul Hut - home base of the Footprints camp.

Each afternoon, a mentor or two would give a presentation about their field of work and how climate ties in. Some of the topics we covered included how rising ocean temperatures were affecting various marine animals in different parts of the world with Peyton Thomas, leadership and Native American culture with Connor Ryan and effective marketing and storytelling with Protect Our Winters Programs Director Jake Black. Each presentation was usually followed with snacks, an activity and some one on one time with our mentor to apply what we had learned to our project. By the time 7pm rolled around we were well and truly ready for dinner and not long after that, ready to dive into sleeping bags - some nights a dance party was necessary before bed. 

By the end of the week we delivered elevator pitches and had refined our projects and had a much clearer idea of what steps we were going to take when we got home and what came after that. 

I grew up playing outside, walking on the trails of the Dharawal Nation and being tossed around in the waves of the Pacific Ocean and I can’t tell you exactly why but I’ve always felt the need to stand for our planet. When I figured out I could run after high school in the midst of a year with the Royal Australian Air Force, that connection with the natural world strengthened tenfold. Running offers a unique way to move through a landscape, a little faster than walking but slower than driving and as you feel every step in your legs and your lungs, you have no option but to feel the grandeur and power of wild places. 

I’ve always felt uneasy and unsure about what my role in climate action looks like. Should I continue my studies in Exercise Physiology or should I be doing environmental science, engineering, politics or law? What this camp showed me through the variation in people and projects, is that literally everyone has a role to play in all sectors of society and industry. Climate action can look like so many different things and you do not have to follow a traditional path. We don’t need a few perfect activists, we need millions of people practicing imperfect activism.


Columbine lake, which was “very much worth the 1000m 7km climb to get there” - Paige

What are the key differences between the USA and Australia scenes?

I haven’t fully grasped the US climate scene yet in terms of environmental issues or political landscape but then again, I’m not even sure that I understand the Australian scene. There’s a lot of moving parts and it would be a full time job to keep up with everything. I think that there are a lot of similarities between the US and Australia but the US really is a lot bigger, in so so many ways. The environment is vastly different and I think a lot of that comes back to the fact Australia is on its own tectonic plate with very few earthquakes and is from a different land mass. Politically, the US again seems bigger and a lot more convoluted. With 52 states instead of 8, there are a lot more people and government bodies to pull into line and get organised. However there is also a much bigger population which means more people power for grassroots movements and there will be a group out there with the same values and motivations as yourself.

What does a standard day of eating look like for you, and how does this compare to a training camp? Are there any major discrepancies?

Footprints was catered by Kelly from Real Athlete Diets based out Boulder, Colorado. Kelly has a tonne of experience feeding endurance athletes and we got very excited for every single meal. As someone who has had to learn how to fuel as an athlete very quickly and without being able to learn from others thanks to Covid isolation for most of my running career, it was really cool to be able to have someone else decide what we eat and then see how different people ate for their individual needs. Everything was vegan which was also really helpful in learning how to put a meal together and not accidentally coming up short on my energy needs. Overall, it didn’t differ too much from what I normally eat, just some foods I hadn’t thought of using before and the timing of our runs altered the general structure slightly.

At Home

Breakfast 1: cereal, milk, peanut butter, banana

Run: gel +/- lollies

Breakfast 2: BIG bowl of oats, protein, peach/mandarine, peanut butter, flax meal. Berries

Lunch: a of bowl with rice/quinoa/couscous, sweet potato, veg, tofu/tempeh, cup of juice

Snack: piece of fruit with two jam crumpets or a clif bar with rice cakes and peanut butter

Dinner: varies a lot, curry and rice, tagine with couscous, generally veggies, protein source and at least a cup of some type of carb

Snack: oats with grated apple, peanut butter and chocolate

Footprints Example Day

Breakfast 1: muesli, almond milk, banana, cashews, seed butters

Run: gel 

Snack: builders bar

Lunch: turmeric quinoa with mixed beans, broccoli, Korean rice cakes

Snacks: trail mix, muesli bar, chocolate, chips

Dinner: polenta with kale, tomatoes and olives, capsicum risotto, baked carrots

Snack: chocolate, trail mix tea


Ridge running with Dakota Jones and Max Romey on the aptly named 'Red Mountain No. 3'

Did Footprints help you address social justice issues when looking at climate-related solutions?

My project has its roots in social justice. I am hoping to increase access to the outdoors for para athletes. I believe that in order to have the capacity to care for our environment, your basic needs as a human need to be met first. If you’re worried about putting food on the table, where you are going to sleep that night, if your carer is going to turn up the next day or if you’re struggling with your headspace, it makes it really difficult to contemplate big issues like climate change. I hope that by making trail running a more accessible and inclusive community, the wide ranging benefits of being outside with good company will help to improve quality of life and subsequently increase the number of people who care for wild places.

Three of our mentors were of Native American and were able to give us a thorough grounded perspective on how the landscapes their entire lives revolve around are changing and what it means not only for shelter, food and other vital resources but also for their identity. Climate change disproportionately affects those of lower socioeconomic status and often those who are far away from where the policy is made that so deeply impacts their lives and potentially, their survival.

The resounding sense I am left with after Footprints is hope. And stoke. It’s easy to feel so small and insignificant in the face of a seemingly insurmountable problem such as climate change but like minded people with lots of energy come together, amazing things can happen. When governments and big companies make decisions that aren’t in favour of the planet’s health it can feel impossible but every single voice is important and lots of voices get things done.


Some of the crew on the Hardrock 100 course at Little Giant Pass.

Finally, how are you implementing the lessons learned from Footprints in a practical way?

Aside from having clearer direction about how to move forward and implement my own project, Footprints has broadened my perspective on what climate action can look like and opened a curiosity inside of me about effective messaging and storytelling to bring more people on board. The existence of Footprints itself is an illustration of what can happen when a vision is combined with drive and resilience and it is so powerful to see its development in real time as each camper chips away at their own project. Not only were our mentors incredibly intelligent and experienced, there was so much to learn from each individual camper, whether they were still studying, fresh out of university or onto their second or third career.

I’m about to launch into my first collegiate athletic season in the US and take on a pretty high study load but I’ve got a more solid base to move forwards from and the knowledge that while sometimes I might feel lonely, there are some epic humans out there doing really cool things. And we’re restless. Climate action is not a short term burst of effort. It is a long process that requires persistence and determination and it’s ok to not be doing everything all at once.


Share your special moments with us!


To be involved, simply tag @forwildplaces in your social media posts and we'll announce the winners at the end of the month. Prizes include sweet as Fractel 'Pilliga' hats, cosy ioMerino tees & a FWP Annual Membership!

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Come and get inspired with us!


Run Nation Film Festival is currently touring the country, and we are excited to be involved in a few events in Victoria. Join us in Melbourne/Naarm or Halls Gap for screenings of a range of adventure-filled and inspiring films from around the world. If you're headed to Wonderland Run in Gariwerd, we're hosting a screening on Saturday night at Centenary Hall. We'd love for you to come along, say hi and go in the running to win some sweet prizes!

Melbourne, Thursday 25th August @ The Astor Theatre, St Kilda - Tickets

Halls Gap, Saturday 27th August @ Centenary Hall from 6.30pm - Tickets on the door

To get a taste of what adventures are in store, check out the trailer.

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We hope you can take some time to get outside this weekend, connect with friends, family and nature, and continue to keep up the fight to protect and celebrate our wonderful wild places.

And, as always, thank you for taking the time to support wild places!

Paige, Elanor & the For Wild Places team



We acknowledge the the First Nations people who have been custodians of land, waters and culture for tens of thousands of years. We pay respects to First Nations Elders past, present and emerging.

This email was compiled on Gadigal lands. To these people, we pay our respects.

Always was, always will be.