Adventure Mamas Initiative, a group founded by two moms, Justine Nobbe and Stephanie Feller. It initially started off as a simple, single meetup group and a way for adventure moms to meet other like-minded women. But within months of being created, moms from around the world started to latch onto the group and concept behind it. It became clear that there was this incredible need to support and empower moms along their post-partum journey through adventure.
The Adventure Mama’s Initiative (AMI) is community driven and was created to support women after they had children and help them reconnect with self-adventure. It became evident that women needed more support and soon AMI communities began popping up around the United States. Women started reaching out and expressing that while they know adventure improves their well-being, they were having a hard time fulfilling that need since becoming a mom.
Why is it important for moms to pursue their passions?
15% of women will suffer from post-partum depression¹. That number is higher than the number of people that sprain an ankle each year. Not only is post-partum depression a concern for moms but also many women feel an overall sense of losing themselves after having kids. AMI helps with these challenges by getting women outside. A Stanford research study showed that spending time in nature and getting out on hikes can actually improve mental health². AMI is encouraging women to get outside both with their kids and solo. There is also a large group of women, including myself, that engaged in adventure before having kids and then felt like they lost that part of themselves after having kids. The Adventure Mamas connects women once again with that sense of adventure.
The reasons are endless why moms have difficulty seeking out personal adventure and they are all valid. Reasons include mom guilt, time and energy constraints, logistics of being a single parent, having a child with special needs, and just not feeling like it is possible anymore.
Adventure Mamas Initiative Role
After just a year and a half, Adventure Mamas has developed into a women’s health non-profit that uses adventure to empower and support women through all phases and stages of motherhood. They are running a fundraiser through the summer to help establish resources for teen moms, survivors of domestic abuse, single mamas, moms who have children with special needs, and more.
In just over 18 months they have:
- Built 10 regional Collabs (what they call their groups) across North America with over 1,500 members
- Organized their first high-altitude backpacking expedition scheduled for Summer 2017
- Begun planning their first clinic for teen moms scheduled for Fall 2017
- Initiated vital discussions within the outdoor and parenting communities about:
- The quiet prevalence of anxiety, guilt, shame, and burn-out many mothers experience regularly
- Utilizing adventure as self-care
- The connection of adventuring and women’s empowerment
It is an initiative that I fully support. To make it all just a little bit more personal, I chatted with founders, Justine Nobbe and Stephanie Feller, personally.
More about the AMI Founders
Where are you both from?
We both grew up in Batesville, Indiana, a small town located in the Southeastern corner of Indiana. Justine now lives in Salt Lake City, Utah and Stephanie lives in Oldenburg, Indiana.
How many kids do you each have and how old are they?
Justine (and Michael) Nobbe, 1 child, Mathias – 18 months
Stephanie (and Eric) Feller, 1 child, George – 2 years; Baby boy due in August
What types of Adventure activities do you like to do?
Stephanie: For me, my first love is backpacking. It’s probably because it’s where I started with my outdoor adventuring, but I absolutely love spending extended time in the wild. Hiking hard miles on trail and spending my nights under the stars curled up in my tent…it’s my happy place. My last big trip (before my current pregnancy) was a 70 mile trip in the Sierras. We spent a week on trail and summited Mount Whitney, the highest point in the lower 48. It was incredibly challenging and was a great opportunity for extensive personal growth. Besides backpacking, I also love rock climbing and kayaking. After having my son I made climbing a bigger part of my routine. I cannot wait to get back at it this fall once I have kiddo number two and really improve my skills.
Justine: Personally, rock climbing is my first and foremost passion. I have never found another activity that so wholly engages and fulfills me. I love that it requires my entire attention and energy. I also love to bike tour, backpack, snowboard, and hike, especially in windy, alpine environments.
When I heard about the Adventure Mamas on Instagram I was excited to follow you guys. Where did you and Steph get the idea for Adventure Mamas?
We’ve been close friends since high school and have had the opportunity to travel and adventure together for nearly 15 years. Although the Midwest isn’t known for it’s lively outdoor-culture, we both had dreams of exploring new, wild places and decided we might as well go for it. Together, we’ve backpacked hundreds of miles up mountains and across rivers, we’ve rock climbed, kayaked, and slack-lined, we’ve spent nights sleeping beneath desert stars and inside of a tent as it rained. These adventures have helped us develop a strong, honest, trusting friendship that not many people get to experience.
When we both became moms in 2015, we felt the traditional sense of elation and joy, and yet there was also a part of us that worried our adventures were now a thing of the past. We wanted to be surrounded by other women who affirmed our need to pursue challenge in the outdoors, even after becoming a mother. We believe that in pursuing our passions we were better moms, partners, and professionals, not to mention we were happier. But we had a hard time finding that community– so we built it. It started with an Adventure Mamas group in Utah, then we created one in Indiana, and from there the concept took off. There are now 10 regional groups across the across.
As we’ve progressed, we’ve begun to understand the bigger implications of AMI in relation to women’s postpartum health. There is research that indicates up to 80% of women will suffer with postpartum anxiety, better known as the “baby blues,” and 20% will go on to suffer with postpartum depression. That’s a lot of women… and yet, it’s not something our society is comfortable addressing. Along with facilitating adventure and building community, AMI is working hard to create a space where women can talk honestly about all of their mothering experiences, the good and the bad.We believe that AMI’s emphasis on adventure and community is a strong combatant to these statistics.
In less than two years, we have grown a worldwide network that encompasses more than 14,000 people. What started as off a simple meetup group has turned into a sort of social revolution aiming to empower mothers from all walks of life. We are working hard to become advocates for women’s postpartum health.
I loved your Authentic Mama Portrait Project where moms from around the world submitted portrait pictures to be featured on your Instagram page for a month. What was the motivation behind this project?
Portraits are such a raw style of photography, they’re up close and personal. The purpose of the Authentic Mama Portrait Project was to invite the women in our community to enter and embrace that vulnerable space. It’s not often we mamas get to be the one in front of, instead of behind, the camera. It’s a subtle, yet powerful, act.
What other projects is Adventure Mamas running this year?
- July 2017 Expedition: We’re putting together a team to spend a week in the Colorado backcountry climbing mountains, connecting with one another, and making a statement to the world: motherhood doesn’t mean the end of adventure, passion, and dreaming. It’s an opportunity to explore why so many mothers neglect self-care, why they so often lose sight of the activities they once loved, why they aim to raise independent, passionate, challenge-driven children without honoring those values themselves. After spending 5 days in the backcountry, our team will spend two days in a beautiful Colorado home to relax, luxuriate, and participate in Empowered Motherhood workshops before going home.
- Fall 2017 Expedition: Details will be out and registration opens later this summer
- AMI presence at all 3 Family Forest Fests
- Local grassroot-lead workshops and events happening across the country year round, join your local collab to learn more
Adventure Mamas has grown a lot in the last year! How has Adventure Mamas evolved and besides the projects you mentioned, what can community members expect to see in 2017?
Our primary focus for 2017 is bringing more awareness to women’s postpartum wellness and the relationship adventure, self-care, and challenge play in that. It’s really exciting stuff!
Did you know it was going to go in this direction when you first started?
Not exactly. Originally, Adventure Mamas started off exclusively as a community platform for the outdoor woman turned outdoor mama to connect with other locals. And while that’s still very much what we do, we’ve grown and diversified immensely. Our mission has expanded to encompass this critical element of women’s postpartum health. It’s a subject that isn’t getting enough exposure in our opinion. We’re stoked to see the direction this takes us.
Now, I am a mom and I see the Adventure Mamas group and think it’s cool BUT I have hardly done any hiking… Do I have to have a certain level of skill to be an Adventure Mama? Or who is the Adventure Mama Initiative for?
The AMI audience is diverse and dynamic. We currently have and continue to welcome women from all ages, cultures, experience levels, interests, and more. There’s this notion that we’re “hardcore” but we work hard to help make adventure activities accessible to all skill levels. Moms have different barriers and constraints that keep them from pursuing these sort of activities: time, energy, guilt, pressures, and fear to name a few. We understand these constraints intimately and have been there ourselves. Reach out if you’re feeling intimidated, we’ll help get you plugged in and feeling comfortable.
How can moms get involved in the Adventure Mamas Initiative and be a part of the community?
Reach out! We personally respond to every email and work hard to connect authentically with our community. Also, if you want to support AMI and women’s postpartum health, please consider donating to our Redefining Motherhood campaign. The success of our fundraising will determine our ability to move forward.
Is there anything else you would like to add?
There’s so much work to do in the realm of women’s postpartum health. Adventure Mamas Initiative wholly believes that we can make a difference through our programs, clinics, and outreach. In order to move forward with our plans and develop into a sustainable organization, we need to have a successful fundraiser. Please consider donating to support our efforts and help us spread the word: bit.ly/adventuremamas
DONATE TO THE ADVENTURE MAMAS INITIATIVE HERE.
- (2011, February). How many women really get PPD? http://postpartumprogress.org/2011/02/how-many-women-really-get-postpartum-depression/
- Jordan, Rob. (2015, June) Stanford researchers find mental health prescription: Nature . http://news.stanford.edu/2015/06/30/hiking-mental-health-063015/