Michael Long's Venture Makes Waves



SUN VALLEY, IDAHO—The vision of 2015 Wild Gift Fellow Michael Long is creating some big waves across the Atlantic. On October 10, 2015, Wild Gift mentors and supporters will join Long for its traditional end of fellowship “Synergy River Trip,” which is usually a river trip on the Salmon River in Idaho. However, this year the team will be traveling different waters.

Not wanting to miss the 2015 Wild Gift “Synergy River Trip,” Long suggested that his classmates and mentors join him for a week “defying the odds” exploring the Canary Islands before he heads across the Atlantic Ocean.

Long is the visionary and founder of SailFuture, which uses ocean “wilderness” as an alternative to rehabilitating juvenile offenders. While the terrain and demographics are very different, Wild Gift and SailFuture operate from the same core belief—transformation changes require transformational experiences.

In less than one year, Long’s venture has received national attention and support inspiring the public and lawmakers to imagine new ways to give a second chance to young men who become victims of our criminal rehabilitation system. Long is making final preparations to take nine at-risk teens from the Canary Islands to St. Lucia in the Caribbean in the privately donated 65-foot McGregor Pilot House sailboat as part of the World Atlantic Rally.

Long arrived in Sun Valley, Idaho last February to join his other class mates to begin the “Wild Gift” extended winter wilderness expedition in the Idaho backcountry to unplug, incubate ideas, envision their work and lives and gain the courage, resilience, balance and grit critical to effective leadership. He had never seen snow before.

I was terrified of the cold, and the closest I had come to a mountain was running over a bridge crossing one of Florida's many watersheds,” Long said.

Within three hours of arrival in Sun Valley, Long was on skis in the dark of night trekking with the other Wild Gift Fellows and guides to a remote cabin in Baker Creek in the Sawtooth National Recreation Area to begin his new adventure. The rest is history.

Wild Gift took me way out of my comfort zone and gave me a dosage of my own medicine,” he said.

Wild Gift Fellow class members will share stories of their fellowship year, brainstorm next steps and experience Long’s courageous venture first hand while exploring the land and culture in these spectacular islands off the West African coast.

            “On the receiving end of a transformational experience fundamentally shifted my view and appreciation of how the young men I serve feel, react and think about their experience in our program,” said Long.

While we support each fellow’s self-designed venture,” said Wild Gift Executive Director Deborah Knapp. “We consider our work as an investment in the individual’s originality, insight, commitment and potential to become a compelling leader of positive change

Every year Wild Gift recruits a class of extraordinary young leaders to become Wild Gift Fellows. The Fellowship is a 16-month program that provides holistic support for emerging social entrepreneurs pursuing breakthrough change. Successful applicants are visionaries committed to and capable of bringing about urgently needed change.

To learn more about Wild Gift Fellow Michael Long’s SailFuture adventures and for media inquires, contact Wild Gift Development Director Christy Giles at (206) 498-0528 or email [email protected].

About Wild Gift

Wild Gift, an Idaho non-profit based in the Wood River Valley, is dedicated solely to accelerating sustainable social entrepreneurship through the inspiration of nature and the wild environments of planet Earth. Since 2002, Wild Gift Fellows have launched 47 “Better World” ventures from sustainability and affordable housing to community development and public policy entrepreneurial ideas. Thousands of lives across four continents and throughout the U.S. have reaped the benefits of Wild Gift Fellows and their desire for social change.

Wild Gift provides unconventional support to outstanding young individuals with “wild” ideas, which will disrupt the status quo and ignite positive change. Using wilderness immersion experiences as a springboard combined with mentoring, seed funding and a collaborative network of support, Wild Gift’s unique Fellowship fosters grit, integrity and know-how critical to the long-term success of their groundbreaking ventures. For more information, visit www.wildgift.org. 

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