Kevin Callan is the most famous camping and canoeing expert you’ve never heard of.
Kevin is a Canadian, a famous Canadian on Canadian television and radio, he’s a well-known author; a famous canoeist and camper in a country full of canoeists and campers. There’s a whole world of excellent Canadian stuff that we Americans know next to nothing about (you’ve probably never heard of Ricky, Julian and Bubbles or Tim Horton’s) but we ought to.
Maybe expert isn’t really the word I am looking for; it seems limiting – Kevin is more than an expert. Kevin is an enthusiast.
When I think of an expert I think of someone who shares knowledge and expertise. An enthusiast, however, shares enthusiasm.
An enthusiast may be an expert but few experts have the energy of an enthusiast.
Kevin’s new book Dazed but Not Confused: Tales of a Wilderness Wanderer is a collection of stories that happened while Kevin was researching and writing more, well, serious books like A Paddler’s Guide to Algonquin Park or Top 50 Canoe Routes of Ontario.
Kevin’s (mis) adventures are shared with honest, enthusiastic good humor that, like the rest of his work, is delightfully free of pretension:
We had no cooking pots, I had forgotten them back at the boat launch.
After taking an increasingly panicked inventory of the campsite, I stared at the river and considered paddling back upstream, but we were too far away and the current was too fast. We were trapped and I was humbled.
I think I have the humble pen thing figured out, though. It seems to come naturally when I write about my misadventures. Humility has taken me far on wilderness trips. Lacking humility in wild places is the surest way to get into trouble. I’m frequently awed and humbled when I am out there. In fact that’s one reason I go out. Frequent humblings are good for the soul.
In sharing a comically tragic story Kevin tips his hand, he’s no buffoon, he ‘s an experienced outdoorsman. Only an experienced outdoorsman knows “Lacking humility in wild places is the surest way to get into trouble.”
I’d like to think I am an experienced outdoorsman after thirty some years of camping and canoeing and backpacking with my Scouts. I’d also like to think I am humble in wild places (I have survived them all so far-knock wood). I’ve learned at least one thing – anyone who thinks they have everything under control, that they have everything figured out, almost certainly doesn’t.
Like most of us Kevin doesn’t have it all figured out yet, and he pretty much knows he never will. But his enthusiasm to know more, to experience more is infectious, it get’s people out of their chairs and trying things out.
Experts just tell you how to do things. Enthusiasts share what they know, tell you there’s more to know, and inspire you to try things and see what happens.
Who would I rather have along on a week-long canoe trip? I’ll take the enthusiast over the expert every time.
Dazed but Not Confused: Tales of a Wilderness Wanderer by Kevin Callan at Amazon