MUDFOOT’S MEANDERINGS Share YOUR Story: announces inaugural travel writing contest


Carrie “Mudfoot” Stambaugh 

For The Beacon


   Trips and time in the outdoors have changed my life, many times in many ways.

   I rebuilt my shattered self-confidence after a traumatic disappointment as a teenager during a summer spent adventuring with a group on federal lands across the Pacific Northwest. I realized during a trip to a National Park that my then-boyfriend was “the one” I wanted to spend my life with. I rebuilt and redefined the relationship I had with my father during a series of hikes on a national recreation trail in my 30s… 

   My adventures inspired this column and have allowed me to earn a living writing about them. But enough about me! 

   Did an experience in the Great American Outdoors during 2020 change your life? Did it help you to escape home isolation and stress in the Covid-19 pandemic? Did the enduring natural beauty of the world heal your soul during this dark time? Did you share that experience with your family or friends? 

   Share Your Story! For telling how an adventure in the Great American Outdoors has affected your life or created special memories you could win an array of prizes!, the federal government’s gateway website to the nations’ broad collection of federal recreation lands is accepting submissions for their first-ever “Share Your Story,” amateur writers contest now through April 30. Winners will be announced May 15. 

   Submissions should be between 900 and 4,500 characters and fit one of six categories. They must include a photograph and up to three photographs will be accepted. All entries are made through the website at 

   To qualify for the contest, the story should have taken place between Jan. 1, 2020 and April 30, 2021 on federal lands including those owned and managed by the National Park Service, U.S. Bureau of Land Management, U.S. Bureau of Reclamation, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, U.S. Forest Service, U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, National Archives, or a NOAA Marine Sanctuaries. 

   There are six categories to enter including Traditions (Old & New), RV/Campervans, Best Time Ever, Activities and Adventure, Reflection Journeys, or Family or Group Travel. 

   Category Descriptions as listed on the site are: 

  Traditions (Old and New): Do you have an annual adventure, or have you taken one that you hope will become a longtime tradition? 

  Reflection Journeys: Do you have a wanderlust that has led you on an inspiring travel adventure? Did you find yourself connecting with nature in a way you hadn’t before? 

  RV/Campervans: Has venturing out included the comforts of your home? Whether it’s for a weekend or a cross-country trip. 

   Family or Group Travel: Do your campfire stories include roasting marshmallows with friends and/or family? 

  Activities and Adventure: Were outdoor activities part of your adventures this year? Share one of your favorite activities while traveling, such as climbing, hiking, rafting, sailing, trekking, swimming, kayaking, canoeing, fishing, or snow sports.

   Best time ever: Did you have an outdoor experience this year that was like no other? If it doesn’t fit in one of the above categories, but it was an adventure like no other, this is the category for it. advises it is not uncommon for stories to fall into multiple categories; for this reason, submissions can be entered in up to three (3) categories. Contestants can enter up to two submissions each.

   There are three grand prizes. First place wins a $2,500 gift card to REI and a federal Interagency Annual pass. The pass provides access to 2,000 federal recreation sites. There will also be prizes awarded in each category, monthly and honorable mentions. 

   *Professional writers are ineligible for the contest. For a complete list of contest rules visit: is a tool to plan your next trip, figure out details, and reserve experiences at over 3,600 facilities and 103,000 individual sites across the country. The mobile app puts adventure at your fingertips. From booking a weekend getaway to planning a cross-country road trip, the app helps you find and reserve campsites, review location details, and quickly access information on past and upcoming reservations.