Explorer Krystle Wright hasn’t had a permanent home in more than six years. Instead, she travels from place to place, documenting athletes on expeditions all over the world. In order to film and photograph their adventures, she’s had to learn how to keep up with them as they ski, climb, and dive—sometimes in extreme conditions.
“With my background, it’s easy to assume that I can do absolutely everything at an expert level,” she says. “But all of us have a lot of skills that we can still learn.” She came to Maine for the first time last fall to try her hand at archery, clay shooting, and fly-fishing during one of L.L.Bean’s Maine Adventure Trips.
Wright spent her second day at the Outdoor Discovery School based at Fogg Farm, just a few minutes from L.L.Bean’s flagship store in Freeport, Maine. The company’s Outdoor Discovery Schools make it easy to get outside. They are available near most L.L.Bean retail stores and offer affordable courses year-round on outdoor activities like kayaking, fly-fishing, and cross-country skiing.
The family-friendly schools cater to outdoor enthusiasts of all kinds, including beginners. The schools’ professional instructors patiently guide participants through the courses, helping them master each new skill at their own speed. The school at Fogg Farm makes a particularly beautiful setting in the fall, when the crisp air and changing leaves add to the excitement of trying something new.
“It would be amazing to see more towns have something like this. I think a lot of people get shy about getting into certain sports because they don’t know how to begin,” Wright says. “I was really impressed with the outdoor school. It was a wonderful setup that was accessible to anyone who wanted to go.”
Wright started her day with archery. Her instructor gave her one-on-one guidance on how to hold a bow, aim properly, and release the arrow. “The funny thing about my nature is that I get really competitive with myself,” Wright says. “I got addicted to archery because I wanted to keep beating myself by trying to get closer and closer to the bull’s-eye.”
Next, Wright got hands-on instruction on how to use a shotgun to shoot clay targets. Her guide helped her learn the fundamentals of sport shooting, giving helpful feedback on her stance and aim. “The guides there are great. They make it really easy to figure it out,” she says.
Then it was time to move to the private pools on the property. Surrounded by lawns and the brilliant reds, oranges, and golds of the fall foliage, the pools offer ample space to learn the art of fly casting. Wright was excited to try the sport for the first time. Her instructor showed her the basics of fly casting, walking her step by step through the four-part cast, false cast, and roll cast, and helped her practice each new skill as she went.
“It seems like a simple sport from the outside perspective, but I knew there would be quite a lot of technique. The instructor was amazing and he definitely gave me a great base knowledge so I could start getting into the sport,” she says.
In fact, just a few days after her first fly-casting lesson, Wright was visiting friends in Colorado and jumped at the opportunity to go fly-fishing. “I came in as a complete beginner, but now I’m obsessed about it. It’s a really easy sport to love,” she says. She’s now planning to buy her own gear and take a fly-fishing trip with her sister.
Wright says her time in Maine gave her a renewed sense of connection to the outdoors. “It helped me remember to seize the weekend and get outside even more. Sometimes I fall into that trap on the weekends, thinking, ‘Well, I’ve only got an hour free, so what’s the point?’ But that’s still an hour outside.”
See for Yourself
L.L.Bean’s Outdoor Discovery Schools are located near most of the company’s retail stores. Expert guides teach courses year-round on a variety of outdoor sports. Equipment is included and courses start at $25.
L.L.Bean offers a dozen Maine Adventure Trips, ranging from two to seven days. Activities include hiking, biking, kayaking, cross-country skiing, snowshoeing, and even ice-fishing, depending on the itinerary, and can also be customized to fit specific interests. The family-friendly trips include guides, meals, and all the necessary equipment for each activity.
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