Jenny Ly, born and raised in British Columbia, is a rookie hunter and a regional leader for the BC chapter of BHA. She runs a blog called Chasing Food Club to serve a movement of mindful eaters, erase the stigma of hunters and encourage others to do what they love and do it often. She was selected to share her Campfire Story in parternship with Filson at the 8th Annual North American Rendezvous. This is a reflection on her experience and is being republished here with her permission.
LOVE IS KINDNESS AND KINDNESS IS POWER
BACKCOUNTRY HUNTERS AND ANGLERS, RENDEZVOUS 2019
I pressed my index and middle fingers into my chest and took note of how hard my heart was pounding. I started calculating how vigorous can one's heart thump before one passes out?
The familiar bluegrass tune, In Hell I’ll Be In Good Company, starts playing and that was my cue to get on stage. With a final deep breath, I slowly stood to make the journey to the well-lit platform. I was terrified I wouldn’t remember a damn thing I was supposed to say.
But a curious thing happened when I took the first step up to the stage. One look down at the crowd and my heart slowed down to a manageable pace. The knees that couldn’t stop shaking during rehearsals never started up again. The sweat on my cold clammy hands mysteriously evaporated. I was calm, eager to tell my story and ready to put on a show. What-the-living-fuck?
“I am honoured to be here, it has been such an amazing weekend connecting with so many like-minded folks. I am here to share a different perspective of hunting and you will see what I mean in a second as things will quickly unravel itself during the story” came out smoothly. My voice wasn’t shaking like it normally would from the severe shyness I have suffered from for as long as I am able to recall. One look at the crowd that radiated love and kindness had healed me. A miracle had happened in front of everyone's eyes and no one knew it.
Campfire Stories hosted by Filson was the closing event at the 8th Annual BHA North American Rendezvous. President and CEO, Land Tawney had opened the evening with a powerful message of admiration for the generous and can-do-attitude of the thousand folks in the room that have propelled memberships to double in size in just a few short years. Allowing us to make a change in the way wildlife conservation was being managed in North America.
"Through the hoots and howls, Ashley Kurt, also a storyteller leaned over at that perfect moment and reassured me that this was the best crowd to talk to because no matter what I said everyone would be super supportive and enjoy every moment of it."
Tawney started expressing how important community was for change, and this crew was the perfect example of it, through our collective kindness towards each other. His remarks stirred up enthusiastic nonstop cheering and clapping from the crowd. Through the hoots and howls, Ashley Kurt, also a storyteller leaned over at that perfect moment and reassured me that this was the best crowd to talk to because no matter what I said everyone would be super supportive and enjoy every moment of it. She also pointed out it didn't hurt that everyone has been drinking all afternoon at the Wild Game Cookoff. The reassurance was exactly what I needed, and I held on to her words of comfort for dear life and believed it with all my heart.
For as long as I remember I have been painfully shy. So much so my body would physically hurt when I had to muster up the courage to talk to someone in a social setting. My parents wrote it off as rudeness when I didn't acknowledge my elders, instead, I hid behind their legs and kept my head down. My grade two teacher called me “ a slow learner and a retard” during one parent-teacher meeting, but really English wasn't my first language and I was too afraid to attempt to speak up for myself. In high school for the first few years, I ate my lunch alone in the library because I had zero social skills. With no patience for post-secondary school and no degree, the first job I could secure as in sales. I sold books door to door and on the first day, I sat on the sidewalk and stared at a house for two hours before I had the guts to knock on the door. Currently, I sell software and before every phone call, I still get butterflies in my stomach.
If you’ve told me just a few years ago I would be public speaking, writing, and more importantly, exploring the beautiful mountains of British Columbia with just a backpack I would have looked behind my shoulder to make sure you had the right person.
I hope you can start seeing my point I am trying to get at. You can do whatever you want. No matter who you are, what you do, or what you’ve done. It’s up to you to determine your worth, not others. Furthermore, you can pivot out of whatever path you are on at any time.
"...surround yourself with folks you admire, respect and aspire to be like. Circle yourself with those that are loving and kind, because those are the people that will give you the power to move mountains."
Easier said than done, I would have not been able to go down the path I've gone without many mentors, found mostly through BHA. Therefore, surround yourself with folks you admire, respect and aspire to be like. Circle yourself with those that are loving and kind, because those are the people that will give you the power to move mountains.
I felt the true power of what love and kindness can do on stage at the Rendezvous. It healed me from a lifetime of crippling shyness and gave me the courage to persist in pursuing my passions.
I now have the confidence to say I want to be a public speaker and a motivator sharing the message of love, kindness and self-empowerment. I want to be a writer, a great explorer and a conservationist. I want to be broken in those mountains, I want them to break me and mould me into someone with more patience and compassion.
We all have something we want, a dream we want to chase that was long forgotten about when the burden of adulthood overwhelmed us. We forget the passion that is meant to provide us purpose and peace.
I want to encourage those around me that feel defeated and hopeless to continue to move forward. I want to lift all those around me and inspire them to join me on this crazy mission to chase our dreams. But all that can’t be done without the kindness of a community. Love is kindness, kindness is power.
Let's continue growing this amazing community if you would like to join or volunteer for the BHA, I encourage you to get connected!
Thank you for reading and sharing!