Vancouver, BC

Chasing Sunrise

Co-founders Julian DeSchutter and Gordon Swenson

What did you see was missing from the outdoor community? 

It was never any one thing, but the accumulation of all of them. Things like having people and a community to go with, the right gear, knowledge, mindset and motivation.

How does CS solve that? 

We talk to people and try and understand what they want and why they aren’t getting it. It’s as much about understanding what’s stopping people from getting as looking at what will excite them enough to try something foreign to them. We’ve begun to realize that a lot of the barriers are inside people’s heads or due to a lack of support systems around them.

Who comes to your events? 

It’s a mix, which we love. Depending on the event, the community ranges from teenagers to people who are in their mid-60s and 70s. On the surface, these people vary in their looks, skin colour, backgrounds, and personalities, but beneath their hoods they all have a desire to engage with life.

What talents do you need to be an Outdoorpreneur? 

The biggest is grit. Things can and will get tough, so you have to figure out how to keep going. You also need to have a vision of what you’re working towards and why it matters. You don’t need exact details (you’ll learn a lot along the way). You’ll likely get knocked down a few times, so the humbler you are the help you’ll receive. Get mentors and surround yourself with people who can help you build on what you’ve started. A lot of the time, we go at these projects by ourselves believing we must do it all, but learning to give up some control and empower others is vital.

What do you wish people knew about CS?

While the adventure and the experiences matters, it’s really about connecting with other people and having/creating the spaces to do so. It’s about getting outside, engaging with life and finding people you vibe with – that’s what spurs the growth of a community.

What do you most value in your community? 

Watching people form new friendships that extend beyond our events is a humbling feeling. It’s cool to watch how they can grow into the person they’ve been wanting to become.

What have been the biggest challenges? 

Trying to figure out just what we are. Chasing Sunrise started as a couple friends with the desire to engage with and experience life. As it grew, it transformed into something steeped in the same values, but with a totally different makeup. It was a challenge to figure out what it was and why it mattered to both us and the community. Talking to people who showed up about why they’re there, what matters to them and what they’d like to see helped.

What’s your perfect day outside? 

Early morning sunrise with friends, float session in a lake, sunset surf session, beach bonfire and hammock hang.

Current state of mind: 

Road trip vibes.

Greatest accomplishment: 

Getting 1000s of people from coast to coast outdoors on Canada Day.

What’s your motto? 

You were born to do more than just pay bills and die.

Picnic blanket or hammock? 

Hammocks. Always hammocks.

Coolest thing you’ve learned outside: 

Listen to that voice inside you. Out there, no one is telling you how to be, look, or feel. You get the space you need to reflect on who you are and who you want to be.

Want to join Chasing Sunrise?

Photo Credit: Ivan Calderon, Wendy Shepherd
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