Mina and me

When talking to hardcore adventurers, it's easy to focus on their current “project.” Project South Pole, Project Highest Mountain, Project Longest Ski Trip. However, when we first got in touch with Alexander Read (b. 1981) about his "project" Mina and me, we were immediately interrupted. This was not a project. This is their lives.

Mina og meg

- It’s not a project we can call off, or bail out of, says father of two, Alexander Read.

- Mina (b. 2015) and me are a conscious choice of values that we as a family have taken together and that we stand in every day, for better or worse. We try to find a balance in life between work, leisure and everything else that comes in between. We’re trying to make it all fit in, so we have time for each other and at the same time pursue our dreams.

By spending a lot of time in the wilderness, the family tries to position themselves in a place where nature has a central place. It started with Alexander and his girlfriend Kristin reaching a kind of threshold where everyday life became increasingly busy and there were not enough hours in the day. They had too little time together, too little time outdoors, Alexander did not enjoy his job, and there was a growing sense that they needed to do something different. Think differently.

- With both working full-time, we spent more time getting by, than actually living the life we wanted. “Let’s start with fresh sheets,” we said to each other. The solution was to take Mina on a two-month long skiing expedition 500 kilometres across parts of Norway. Just Mina and me.

Kristin picked them up after two months in the wilderness and they sat in the car on the way down from the mountains and felt that something was right about the whole situation. That the decision to go on such a long trip was more than an isolated stunt to get a little steam out. 

- It was something much bigger! The trip represented a change from what was, and a real opportunity to let us explore the possibility of how we wanted to live our lives. We listened a lot to the heart and a little less to the brain, and have not regretted it so far. So Mina and me is not a project, it is our life and our attempt to live it the way we want to.

Alexander has held several project management positions and consulting jobs related to corporate social responsibility and social innovation. He is passionate about working with nature, and emphasises that we don’t "visit" nature. We are nature. One of Alexander's goals as an ambassador for Helsport is to contribute, among other things, to the search for good solutions to environmental challenges, and exploring these solutions. This also involves passing on good values to the next generation so that they can experience the snow-covered mountains too.

- Mina is responsible for checking the tent site for rubbish after we have packed up the tent and equipment and are ready to go. I think it's important to teach Mina, being a part of the next generation, that we need to take care of our playground; the mountains and the wilderness.

Mina got a little sister in 2019, and Alexander says that although the long trips with him and Mina are of great value, it is just as much about finding a good way to live their everyday life.

- Kristin is back at work after maternity leave, so I pick up and deliver in day care. The girls are I will prepare a packed snack, and be ready for an afternoon outdoor adventure with mum when she returns from work.

Many parents will probably think that taking toddlers on camping trips is too much of a hassle, but Alexander believes that small tricks of the trade can do the work.

You don’t have to bring your toddler on a month-long expedition to experience magical moments. Toddler parents should lower the bar, and find out what kind of goals and dreams they have for their outdoor life, and simply just take the leap!

- You don’t have to bring your toddler on a month-long expedition to experience magical moments. Toddler parents should lower the bar, and find out what kind of goals and dreams they have for their outdoor life, and simply just take the leap! Don't try to learn everything at once. Instead, focus on one thing at the time you want to get better at. If you’ve barely slept in a tent before, then let that be your project. Don’t add on a new menu, long distance hiking, or introduce new, advanced gear. Stick to getting familiar with sleeping in a tent. One thing at a time! The whole point is to get out into the wilderness together, have time for each other and let it be a positive experience for the whole family.

Alexander is passionate about bringing toddlers outdoors, and constantly receives questions and inquiries from people wondering about different things related to going camping with children.

- When talking to people, it seems that many families end up not going camping with their children because the threshold eventually becomes too high. Some point to insufficient knowledge, others mention poor or little equipment. Whatever the reason, I think it's a shame that they miss out on this opportunity to share splendid moments together in the outdoors. I intend to do something about it!

He has started a project where people can write to him and then he selects some families he’ll help get on with their adventure. 

- I visit families and together we find a way to get outdoors. We put the words into action, and action into magical moments for the whole family. I can honestly say that some of the best memories Kristin and I have with the children are from being outdoors. I think it is amazing to come home to people and assist them to the best of their ability. And I learn a lot too, along the way.

Mina is currently Helsport's youngest ambassador, and also the one who by far have spent the largest part of her life in a tent. Alexander emphasises that the tent contributes to an important aspect of the hike - the flexibility.

- With a tent you can stop wherever you want. That flexibility is crucial for a successful hike with children. Instead of having to move on even though we are getting tired and exhausted, we can pitch the tent there and then and have fun. In one way, Helsport is one of the most important players when it comes to maintaining a good spirit on a trip, and ensuring that there is an upward spiral of surplus and energy for everyone involved. The tent represents a gathering point, a safe harbour, a playground and a place where Mina and I can learn and explore. Our 2-person tent is also a brilliant spot for playing hide and seek!