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• Last updated: November 5, 2020

A Peek at The Strenuous Life: January 2020

A man is bugling and audience is looking at him.

Note: The Strenuous Life is the “action arm” of AoM, a program that helps men put into practice the ideas and principles espoused in our articles and podcasts. If you’re curious about what TSL is like, here’s a peek at the January edition of The Bugle — the monthly newsletter that goes out to members. If you’re interested in joining up, the next enrollment will be in the spring, and you should sign up on to be the first to know when that enrollment opens.

Welcome to Our Newest Classes!

The Strenuous Life enrolled four new classes last week. Please extend a warm and hearty welcome to:

Class 044

  • Guides:
    • @eburres
    • @jackdawes

Class 045

  • Guides:
    • @spartan90
    • @averyb

Class 046

  • Guides:
    • @merickson
    • @jopasmith

Class 047

  • Guides:
    • @mtberatlarge
    • @admonton1

As we like to tell all our new recruits, you’ll get out of The Strenuous Life exactly what you put into it, so hit the ground running!

Badge Work

Did you slow down on your badge work over the holidays? That’s understandable, but some especially indomitable members continued to seek strenuosity amongst the merry-making. Here’s a sample of what they’ve been working on these last couple months:

@grekulanssi practiced the fireman’s carry on his wife for the First Aid Badge; @wpcopland dove to retrieve a weight for the Frogman Badge; and @nhadley read A Fighter’s Heart: One Man’s Journey Through the World of Fighting and The Professor in the Cage: Why Men Fight and Why We Like to Watch for the Fighter Badge.

For the Firebuilder Badge, @eagle78tm made a fire with friction and @west made a cooking fire over which he prepared coffee and a frankfurter. @pjc5000 visited the MOMA for the Art Badge. @mtberatlarge wrote letters for the Letter Writing and Penmanship Badges.

Man sharpened his chainsaw and cut down his own Christmas tree, prepared food for the hosts and a map.

For the Music Badge, @potterfan1996 attended an opera at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln with his fiancee. For the Rucking Badge, @beardedferrell completed a GoRuck Tough. For the Astronomer Badge, @austen-e hiked up to Hurunui hut near Matamata in New Zealand to watch the Geminids meteor shower, while @noah_s tracked the phases of the moon for a full cycle, saying of the experience:

This was one of my favorite badge requirements so far. I love the night sky, but doing this I noticed how long it has been since I gave it proper attention in my everyday life. I’d almost forgotten just how beautiful the moon is. . . . I finished the requirement about a week ago, but I still take almost daily nighttime strolls to a nearby park, and I find myself looking up a lot more whenever I’m out after dark.

After joining TSL, @arkay87 started a chicken coop for the Backyard Farmer Badge; after two years of harvesting fresh eggs from his chickens, it was time to say goodbye and harvest the chickens themselves for meat. @jutters read Louis L’Amour’s Education of a Wandering Man for the Gentleman Scholar Badge. @ofcaerbannog filled out his family tree for the Ancestry Badge. @barefootdan walked 50 miles in under 20 hours for the Rough Rider Badge.

@jacksondowie made his own sushi for the Kiss the Chef Badge; @sryanj26 took a hunter safety course for the Hunting Badge; and @revshag changed the oil on his car for the Gearhead Badge. For the Journaling Badge, @bedsheetghost completed the 31-Day Jumpstart Your Journaling Challenge, saying: “it’s been instrumental in my development this past year, making me self-aware of my current place in the narrative of my life.”

Man sharpened his chainsaw and cut down his own Christmas tree, prepared food for the hosts and a map.

For the Lumberjack Badge, @robr77 sharpened his chainsaw and @jopasmith cut down his own Christmas tree. @kevinm401 knocked off a requirement for the Host Badge by throwing a Friendsgiving, and @bmcg25 navigated with a map and compass for the Scout Badge.

For the Virtue Badge, @bigmike33617 read and took notes on AoM’s series on Benjamin Franklin’s 13 virtues. @jeffgjohnson2714 created a Family Mission Statement for the Pater Familias Badge. For the Microadventure Badge, @tjmorris427 went rock climbing and @ender photographed the sunrise over the Mississippi River over the course of one hour.

Local Chapter Meet-Ups

Gentlemen’s Dinners

This year on The Strenuous Life we started a new tradition: The Annual Gentlemen’s Dinner. It’s a chance for members in local chapters to get together for food, drink, and fellowship. Members reflect on their past year of activity in the program, and plans are generated for the year to come.


These first annual Gentlemen’s Dinners were a big success: dozens took place around the world, from Sacramento to Boston, South Africa to Australia.

Michigan Meet-Up

Members in Michigan — @adamw, @lucakaiser, @boots1164, @badamovicz, @blitz, and @kjablinskey — met up for a nice mixture of activities: a tour of the capitol building in Lansing, lunch and conversation, and then a few hours of archery practice at Michigan State University’s indoor archery range.

Sacramento Meet-Up

In Sacramento, @jhollinger, @jwrosenberry, and @jeffcarlisle got into the Christmas spirit by spending a Saturday afternoon volunteering for the Salvation Army. The gentlemen helped sort Christmas donations that would be delivered to families in need and unload pallets off of a delivery truck.

First Annual German Festival of Strenuosity

“Festivals of Strenuosity” are grassroots events started in several geographic areas last year, in which members organize a weekend-long, region-wide meet-up that involves various skill- and camaraderie-building activities along with strenuous recreation.

In November, @alessandro and @s-c-hughes organized Germany’s first of these festivals, and put a fun, competitive spin on things. Members camped out for a weekend together in the wilderness of Oberpfalz, Bavaria, and were broken into two teams. Both teams first learned the skills of land navigation before setting off on a navigation course, where they not only had to navigate to certain points, but to compete in challenges, including lock picking, boxing, tourniquet tying, and fireman carrying. Points were also earned in a weightlifting competition and the AGFT. Along the way, the men also feasted, drank, and told stories around the campfire. A ton of effort and thought was put into this awesome event, and I can’t do it justice in this brief write-up, so I highly recommend reading the full Strenuosity Report here.

There are several Festivals of Strenuosity or “Strenfests” being planned for 2020, including in the U.S. Southwest and the Southeast. Organizer @gwalliman wanted to share this with those who might be interested in attending the former:

Strenfest Southwest 2020 will be a 4-night campout held from April 29th to May 3rd on private land near Blue, AZ. Each day of the campout will feature strenuous events, badge work, workshops, competitions, and camaraderie; some of the events we’ll be doing include hiking, swimming, fire building, knot tying, tracking, first aid training, stargazing, and several contests and games. Our goal is to make this the most strenuous and most fun event you’ll attend in 2020, and by its end you’ll have completed requirements for several badges! Members from Arizona, California, Colorado, Nevada, New Mexico, Texas, and Utah are encouraged to attend, although the event is open to all TSL members wherever you are.

After your local meet-ups of every kind, please designate a point person to write up a brief “Strenuosity Report” and post it here. In the absence of a Strenuosity Report, we are unlikely to see that your meet-up took place and won’t be able to consider featuring it here in the Bugle.

The next Strenuous Saturday (the designated TSL meet-up day and the third Saturday of every month) is January 18th — head to the forums of your respective local chapters to see what’s already been planned, or to start a plan yourself!

Class Insignia

Classes 040 and 042 finalized their class logo, designed by @jopasmith and @mwm, respectively.

Keep living strenuously, everyone!

Now let each man here look back in his life and think what it is that he is proud of in it — what part of it he is glad to hand on as a memory to his sons and daughters. Is it his hours of ease? No, not a bit. It is the memory of his success, of his triumph, and the triumph and the success could only come through effort. –Theodore Roosevelt

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