WHAT THE HECK IS A SWITCHBACK KID?
It didn’t take us long after coming up with the idea for traveling to all 59 parks over the course of the NPS Centennial year before we had designs on making this trip more than just a personal adventure. One of the things we immediately decided was to keep a blog to document the triumphs and challenges of our journey. We know we will enjoy looking back years from now and reliving these days. But more importantly, we felt it was a huge opportunity to share our love for the National Parks and our belief that everyone can seize their own adventure.
One of the first steps to building a blog is creating your identity. And one of the first tasks to create our identity was to find our name.
Personally, I really enjoy thinking up names. I think it goes back to my journalism degree in advertising. I think Elizabeth does too because she has creative skills in seemingly all areas. Every now and then we actually go onto this website called NamingForce.com where companies create naming contests where individuals (like us) can submit entries and if yours is chosen you get a cash prize. There are usually over a thousand entries, so we haven’t won yet, but it’s always fun to exercise that creative muscle. But when we were looking for a name for our blog the “contest” suddenly became very personal, and we realized that without the thousands of entries this contest would be all up to us.
So we started our brainstorming. Elizabeth and I tend to go about this in very different ways. I took the components approach and kept wanting us to start by thinking up words that we wanted to describe us and what we are doing and then fit them together. I also was always wanting to write everything down – it helps me think and free brain power for the next idea. Elizabeth, on the other hand desires a more natural approach. She likes to talk everything out and throw out names as a whole. So we ended up doing both as we brainstormed here and there over the course of a week. Eventually we had come to some finalists.
- boots in the clouds
- project bootprints
- switchback kids
- the trailhead experience
- open air experience
- the outside look
- the outside scoop
Now one strength I have is that I value and consider with an open mind the feedback of others. This can also be a weakness because sometimes I put too much weight on the opinions of others instead of holding fast to my own. For better or worse, I wanted to ask a few of our close family and friends what they thought about the finalist names (Elizabeth already had her favorite and thought this was unnecessary, but I couldn’t help myself). And what do you know… she was right 😉 This was one of those rare occasions where the solicited opinions did not match our own. So we went ahead and ignored them!
We basically knew right after it came out of Elizabeth’s mouth that Switchback Kids was the one we were looking for. Here’s why:
- Snappy – the name is short, easily remembered and just sounds cool (to us anyway).
- Unique – There are no other names similar to it. Switchback is a pretty uncommon word that some people are not even familiar with.
- Personal – Not personal as in meaningful to us, but personal as in referring to people. We wanted our name to be something that people can call us, rather than some descriptive phrase (e.g. Habitat for Humanity). We are the Switchback Kids.
- Descriptive – A major element of our trip will be hiking the wildernesses of the national parks on all trails long and short. In fact, we’ve already been training. Whenever a trail goes up or down a significant distance it uses switchbacks to make the walking easier and make the trail more durable and resistant to erosion. While we aren’t technically kids, we’d like to think we are sometimes. We hope that that youthful spirit that gets buried in the serious matters of grown-up world can get some exercise this year. Plus, I get told a lot that I still look like a kid, so I suppose comparatively to some we are.
- Flexible – Switchback Kids can become whatever we want. This year it’s trip to #All59, thus our tagline “59 National Parks, one year of adventure.” But who’s to say what next year has in store 😉
- Meaningful – We like the symbolism of the switchback. To us it means that sprinting straight up the mountain of life is not less sustainable and less enjoyable. Instead, we hope to take a little more time and see a few more things. Iin the end we may make it to the peak a little slower, but with a fuller, less exhausting experience. It’s been said that life is not a destination, it’s a journey, and we are hoping to use this year to add a few switchbacks to our journey.
Next we had fun designing the logo. First we contracted someone from the website Fiverr.com (where people can do a lot of cool tasks for just $5). But when we didn’t like those (after the first version, it was clear we had to explain what a switchback was), Elizabeth just took it on like a boss using the free, open-source, photoshop-like software Inkscape.
Fiverr logo versions:
So we have begun to create our Switchback Kids brand with the name, tagline, logo, social media accounts (Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, etc.), About section, Meet Us video, The Beginning posts (1 & 2), etc. It’s always exciting to create something new. And we’ve definitely learned from the examples and successes that other blogs we (mostly Elizabeth) follow. We know some of these blogs develop a large audience and are monetized to become remarkably successful businesses. Who knows, maybe that could be us one day and we are full time adventure sharers! We don’t know where this blog (or this trip for that matter) will take the Switchback Kids, but the one thing that is for sure is that we can’t wait to start exploring the National Parks, share our adventures and inspire you to #FindYourPark this coming year!