Raven Adventures: Around the world – For the world
A ground breaking leader in student research, adventure and education since 1986
The award-winning Raven Adventures is a unique eco-travel company dedicated to practicing minimum-impact travel while introducing people from all walks of life to the natural world. Raven also supports various environmental projects around the globe. Your trip fees not only give you an amazing travel experience, they also support important projects such as rain forest conservation, the construction of rural schools and composting toilets, as well as whale, large cat and penguin preservation efforts around the globe.
Born and raised in a rural hill town in Western Massachusetts, Raven Adventure’s founder and lead guide Colin Garland put his curiosity and thrill of adventure to good use at a very early age. His fascination and curiosity of all wild things lured him into the nearby wilderness to track animals while in search of wild edible and medicinal plants, and to test his survival skills. By age 12, he was extremely confident and competent in the wilderness, spending many a night alone deep in the forest, thrilled to be in the heart of a winter blizzard or the torrential rains of spring, with nothing but the clothes on his body.
Finding a wellspring of knowledge in the wisdom of the elders around him, he sought out and learned from those who shared their stories of hardships and adventures. Many lessons were gleaned from those rugged men and woman who survived the harsh realities thrust upon them in the early days of the 20th century, the great depression, and two world wars.
By his late teens, thinking quite far outside the box and always in search of an adventure, Garland knew his life would not be an ordinary one. Upon graduating high school at the age of 17, there were two roads that lay before him. He could join the military or enter one of the local factories. It was at that point in his life, he recalled the words of one of the old timers he respected so much:
“If you are going to work the next 55 years of your life, you best make it something you love. By doing what you love, you will not only be happy, you will be rich beyond measure. This richness will attract others, who in turn will wish to seek the same.”
Armed with that wisdom, he entered a local factory with the goal of mastering every possible skill he could manage within a five-year period. When he walked away from the factory, he took with him a repertoire of useful skills as a machinist, mechanic, welder, carpenter, and electrician, to name a few. But more than anything, he learned that being trapped in a giant metal box day after day, breathing toxic chemicals was not for him.
Within months of leaving the factory, he started volunteering his time at local schools, sharing his passions and skills as a naturalist, survivalist, and budding environmental educator, while seeking out others who could teach him the outdoor skills he had yet to master. Soon after he completed a year-long intensive outdoor leadership training program, he founded Raven Adventures.
By the late 1980’s, he was restless once again and embarked on a two year around the world adventure, traveling to 32 countries on a meager budget of $800, all of which was spent in the first months of his journey. This was the beginning of a life-changing odyssey that would instill in him a deep concern, compassion, and empathy for the animals, the people, and the environment in some of the most remote areas of the globe. He spent nearly two years living among the poorest of the poor. He smuggled monks out of Tibet, lived and learned from indigenous clans in the outback of Australia, on the coasts of New Zealand, and the impenetrable jungles of Indonesia. He taught in universities in India, Indonesia, and Nepal, climbed Himalayan peak with world-class climbers, tracked tigers, explored wild rivers, jumped from planes, and survived a few harrowing near misses.
Upon returning to the USA, Colin resumed his passion for teaching, sharing his adventure stories and new skills with local youth. He immediately co-founded U.N.Y.T.E. (Understanding Nature and Yourself Through Experience), an outdoor education and adventure program focusing on introducing teens to the wonders of the natural world while fostering self-esteem. He now knew from personal experience that when anyone traveled outside their comfort zone, immersing themselves in unknown cultures, this held the great potential to change people in very deep and meaningful ways.
It was clear that by raising their awareness, through providing a healthy, healing, and adventurous environment in which these young adults could safely grow, it would help them find the courage and self-esteem needed to plant seeds of hope for their futures. By learning to care for others and for themselves, they inevitably became more compassionate, productive, conscientious beings, well suited to become better stewards of the planet they are inheriting.
It is our belief that when anyone finds the courage within themselves to seek beyond the pre-painted future so often painted for them by the pressures of “main-stream” society, we begin to paint our own masterpiece, on our own inner canvas. We believe that when we find the strength to seek out and follow our highest calling, we not only change old patterns and stereotypes, we indeed change the world.