2015: A Banner Year for Estela Wilderness Education

2015: A Banner Year for Estela Wilderness Education

In April 2011, I started Estela Wilderness Education with the intention of bringing all my outdoor educational pursuits under a single banner. Since 2011, I’ve had the opportunity to train, travel and write always seeking to grow from these experiences. Each year, I’ve expanded business in different directions and 2015 took on a very writing-focused theme. In 2015 alone, 25 of my articles were published with many more in the queue for publication in the coming months. It is hard to believe how far I’ve come in just under 5 years. It’s a lot to process so I’ll just focus on 2015. In retrospect, this year was truly exciting and it means there is so much more .

Spyderco Mule Team Estela

Kevin Estela with the Spyderco Mule Team CTS B70P in Zion National Park atop Angels Landing Trail.

2015 saw the establishment of the Estela Wilderness Education Fund. Thanks to the generosity of many, the fund became permanent at the Main Street Community Foundation and in 2016, will begin providing camperships to underprivileged children to the educational summer camp programs at the Environmental Learning Center of Connecticut. This fund will never run out and each year more and more students will have the opportunity to build a passion for the outdoors the way I did when I was just a child. Even though the fund has met its initial fundraising goal, in life you can level up or level off. There will be more charity events coming to build the fund even more and help even more children.

Kevin Estela and Scott Heth

Environmental Learning Center of Connecticut Trustee, Kevin Estela with Environmental Learning Center of Connecticut Director, Scott Heth at the Main Street Community Foundation the day the initial fundraising goal was met.

In April 2015, I fulfilled a childhood dream to “play like Rambo” in a way only a true movie geek can understand. I traveled to Hope, BC to the exact filming locations where the movie was shot and thanks to the great folks at Martin Knives, Hank, Newt and Ed, I was equipped with a modern day version of the famous Lile knife. I later wrote about the experience for this website and one of the photos taken in the same gorge Rambo ran through ended up as the lead photo for an article I wrote for American Survival Guide. The trip was part fun and part business and after all the years of being a movie fan, I was able to test the skills portrayed in the film and compare them to realistic skills I’ve honed over the years as a survival instructor. Hope is a great destination I’ll always remember and if you travel there you’ll learn what I did. There is so much more to that beautiful mountain town than a movie’s history. I’ll definitely make it back to Hope again.

First Blood Survival Skills

Martin Knives MCE2 set against the same backdrop as seen in First Blood


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During the summer of 2015, I worked closely with the folks at Hornbeck Boats in Olmsteadville, NY and learned all about the modern ultralight canoe inspired by the traditional “Nessmuk Canoe”,Sairy Gamp. After traveling to the ADK museum and gaining access to the Nessmuk exhibit, paddling where George Washington Sears did, and writing about the experience, I ended up with one of the Hornbeck boats a month later. I wasn’t planning on it but I absolutely embraced the ultralight canoe philosophy. My Hornbeck was eventually used on a handful of trips during the remainder of 2015 and was the subject of my premiere article in OFFGRID magazine about the ultralight canoe as a bugout option. There are going to to be more canoe trips offered in 2016 and I’m sure those who come with me and try out the canoes will see why I fell in love with that 15 pound wonder.

Estela Wilderness Education, Kevin Estela, Hornbeck Classic 9

Kevin Estela of Estela Wilderness Education Paddling the Hornbeck Classic 9 Canoe on Raquette Lake in NY State. George Washington Sears, AKA Nessmuk, paddled these same waters in the late 19th century

Yet another highlight of 2016 was building new friendships and sponsorships with various companies well known in the outdoor/survival industry. In 2015 I continued my relationship with Mountain Khakis as a Professional Ambassador. I also was selected by Ultimate Survival Technologies (UST) as one of the first “class” of Brand Ambassadors. In the last quarter of the year, I joined the ranks of ColdPruf, an up and coming baselayer company, as a Survival Athlete and the roof rack THULE company started to sponsor me as well . These relationships helped me deliver better training to the public by providing me gear, donations for prizes and social media coverage. I can’t thank them enough and look forward to representing them in the years to come.

Kevin Estela THULE Sponsorship

In Q4 of 2015, Kevin Estela became officially sponsored by THULE products.

There are many highlights to the 2015 year but overall, it was a banner year. At the end of every year I make adjustments and plans for the year to come. As I type this, I’m already planning exciting trips, ways to challenge/better myself through training and very unique articles to write about. I’m certain 2016 will be another year for growth and I know Estela Wilderness Education will reach new audiences with more and more people spreading the word about what I do. I’m no actor but I would assume the same nervousness an Academy-Award winner faces with the possibility of leaving someone out during their acceptance speech is what I’m sensing now. There are so many more people I need to thank and I know I’m going to accidentally forget someone. So here is the laundry list of those I want to make sure to include. My crew: Big John, Lt. Mike, Ben “Sweet Bologna” LeGrande and Dwayne Unger, my mentors/teachers Marty Simon, Pamana Tuhon Chris Sayoc, Guros Rich and Sue Smith, Sifu Chris Smith, all of the Estela Wilderness Education Associates who have earned patches and spent time around the fire with me, my friends and family and all the 3000 plus followers on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram that keep up with my antics.

2015 is wrapping up and it is also getting out of the way for 2016. Stay tuned folks. So much more awesome is on its way!


The short list for those too lazy to read…

Kevinestela.com reviews and Blog of Education
Mountain Khakis MK Livin’ Blog
Blog Posts for Andy Roy and Fiddleback Forge
Joel Lambert.com Contributions
Access to Nessmuk Canoe and exhibit at the ADK Museum
BLADE Show and New York Custom Knife Show (NYCKS) Travel
25 articles for various publications including American Survival Guide, RECOIL/OFF-GRID and Harris Publications.
Misc. posts on Facebook

Martin Knives Sponsored Hope, BC Trip to filming location of First Blood
National Parks Trip AZ, UT, WY
Acadia National Park
Grenada (Rest/Relaxation and some Eco tourism/research)

Vermont Outdoor Guides Association Winter and Fall Doe Camp
4-H Haddam/Killingworth Science of Survival (Firestarting)
ELCCT Advanced Fieldcraft at Indian Rock Nature Preserve
Budget Bushcraft at Gossman Knives (Featured in January 2016 American Survival Guide)
Intro to Winter Camping in Fish Creek, NY
Dave Beck Tracker Knife Training in Pennsylvania

Mountain Khakis Professional Ambassador
Thule Sponsorship
UST Ambassador
ColdPruf Sponsorship

Permanent establishment of the Estela Wilderness Education Fund
Promotion to Associate Instructor Level 2 in Sayoc Kali
Promotion to 3-Stripe Blue Belt in BJJ under Sifu Christopher Smith

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