Saturday, 18 February 2012

Plugging in to ‘Operation Unplugged’ for a Sneak Premiere 

            I never win anything, mostly because I don’t usually enter contests or races online and when I do it's usually a huge bust. So when Kristen J, writer and creator of the incredibly popular travel website Hopscotch the Globe messaged me on Wednesday to tell me that I had won free tickets to the premiere showing of a new TV showed called ‘Operation Unplugged’, I was ecstatic. You might recognize Kristen’s website from the guest post I wrote last week on Katimavik and youth travelling projects in Canada. I also wrote a short story for her here (scroll to the bottom of the page) which landed me this amazing opportunity to check out Canada’s newest TV series on stepping away from our devices and back into the real world.

Kristen and I at the Operation Unplugged Premiere
            I wasn’t completely sure what to expect from this event, to be honest, and it’s really the first time I had been exposed to the true world of social media vs. television networking. But I found myself overjoyed while standing in the lobby of the Maple Leaf Theatre, located on the basement floor of the CN Tower, with the entire cast of the first season of Operation Unplugged along with a few other big name producers and bloggers. The whole premise of this pseudo-reality TV series which will air on the Travel and Escape Channel is centered on eight digitally obsessed Canadians as they embark on a physical and personal journey through Canada’s breathtaking National Parks and National Historic Sites. They will be forced to abandon their technological devices in favour of real-time, real-world interactions with the great outdoors…and with each other. From challenging outdoor physical tasks to historical re-creation that demonstrates the mettle of early Canadian settlers, Operation Unplugged will test these eight individuals on the adventure of a lifetime.

            Now, I am the last person you would call a ‘reality junkie’, but I do have to admit that I took great pleasure in watching the transformation of each participant from being ‘techno-obsessed’ to going ‘back to the basis’, even if only during the first episode. The idea of the show is great, and I will support any endeavour that missions to exploit the beauty of our National Parks. Speaking of, along with some sponsors and representatives from Parks Canada, the Minister of the Environment Peter Kent was also in attendance! I came very close to meeting the man behind our preservation acts, but it was halted by his early exit from the event. Maybe next time, Honourable Mr. Kent...Maybe next time.

Operation Unplugged cast at the first episode premiere with Honourable Minister of the Environment Peter Kent.
Top (L to R): Host Allan Bishop, Scott (Pickering, ON), Alana (Vancouver, BC), Daniel (Woodbridge, ON), Jillian (Creighton, SK), Vanessa (Montreal, QB), Catherine (Montreal, QB), Chris (Ottawa, ON).
Bottom (L to R): Minister of the Environment Peter Kent, Kammer (Winnipeg, MB).       

I did, however, get to stand in the foreground while Kristen J interviewed three cast members on their experience during the filming of the show and how it has changed their lives post-Operation Unplugged. Many have returned to their lives in a highly connected world, but placed the value of human-based interactions with much more importance than before they had embarked on this journey. During one of the interviews, contestant Kammer Kinnarath told us that the most impactful thing he had learned on the show was to ‘engage people and you’ll fall in love’. Cheers to the eight brave souls who unplugged, challenged themselves, faced their fears, engaged with their surroundings and maybe fell in love with something along the way.

*The first season of Operation Unplugged officially begins on Februrary 21st at 9pm on the Travel and Escape Channel. All episodes can be watched 24 hours after being aired on their website.

Thursday, 9 February 2012

Guest Post on "Hopscotch the Globe'

Hello everybody!
This week I am not writing a lost and found original; instead, I had the privilege of writing for 'Hopscotch the Globe'. Check out the article here:

Traveling with Katimavik: An Argument for Youth, Traveling and Volunteerism.

Safe travels,

Aaron Turpin