The Next Challenge Grant will be skipping a year due to Covid-19.
Applications for the 2021 Next Challenge Grant should have opened by now.
I kept putting off the launch though. It always takes a bit of willpower for me to get it started each autumn but this year I was struggling more than usual to muster the energy.
I’ll be honest, that was partly due to having recently doubled my child count to two. Everything requires a little more effort these days, and there’s a lot less time.
But it was also because I had doubts about whether promoting travel during a global pandemic was appropriate.
Part of me felt like it was exactly what people needed right now: a bit of optimism and a reminder that the outside world is to be embraced, not feared.
I have no doubt that it is quite possible to undertake all sorts of adventures without posing any risk to anyone. What harm in walking up a hill on your own and camping under the stars?
I also have no doubt that there would have been plenty of people out there with loads of fantastic ideas that creatively kept the adventurous spirit alive while recognising the world in which we’re currently living.
But that world is changing so quickly at the moment. The risks change all the time and so do the rules.
And perception can be important. If it looks like people are breaking the spirit of the rules or not behaving responsibly, then that can cause harm too, whether or not they are technically adhering to guidelines (see: Dominic Cummings).
I should note that when I put out a poll on Twitter, the majority of responders were in favour of the grant going ahead. The feedback on Facebook was similar too.
But there was still a significant minority against. 38%. And that’s coming from my own echo chamber. Much easier for friends and followers to say what I want to hear than stick their head above the parapet and say: “Maybe not this year”.
So I concluded that the risks this year probably outweigh the benefits and from that decided to push the pause button.
The Next Challenge Grant will be back next year. I am sure of it.
And with two years’ worth of applicants, all excited about conquering the world after so much time pent up indoors, it will probably be even better than ever.
Apologies to those of you who were waiting to apply but please do come back next year. I’ll be ready for you.
And thank you to everyone who has continued to support the grant over the years. Your support will be appreciated all the more in a year’s time.
See you all next year.
P.S. I didn’t actively seek donations this year but everyone who did donate (e.g. through annual subscriptions) has been contacted and will be refunded.
I think you made the right call.
Thanks Victor. Much appreciated.