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An Inside Peek at The Strenuous Life: Fall 2023

The Strenuous Life is an online/offline platform that helps members learn new skills, pursue new interests, and improve themselves in body, mind, and spirit. Each month, members create and publish a newsletter — The Bugle — to highlight what’s going in the TSL community. 

If you’ve wondered what The Strenuous Life is like, below we share the September edition of The Bugle. The next enrollment for TSL will open in January. Click here to get on the email list and be the first to know when enrollment opens. 

The Strenuous Life Bugle is the newsletter for participants of The Strenuous Life, which highlights the strenuous going-ons of our intrepid members. This Bugle brought to you courtesy of: @averyb @clouden1 @eburres @gwalliman and @S-C-Hughes.

Congratulations to Those Who Did 52/52 Agons!

Completing 52/52 Agons — an entire year of challenges in body, mind, and spirit — is an incredibly strenuous accomplishment. You’ve got to complete consecutive Agons in sickness and health; in winter, fall, spring, and summer; whether you’re feeling like it or not; even if you’re on vacation. Less than 1% of members have been able to accomplish this feat. Recently, a few of our most elite members have joined this exclusive club, earning the 52/52 Agon Perfection Award and the right to wear TSL’s Agon Perfection Ring:

  • Jimmy S., Class 070
  • Steffen H., Class 070
  • Tyler M., Class 071
  • Jeremiah B., Class 072
  • Eric B., Class 073
  • Reece R., Class 074

Badge Work

What badge requirements have you been working on? Here’s a sample of how your fellow members got action recently:

For the Ancestry Badge, @Heisenberg received a gold and lapis lazuli ring that his grandparents got in Greece. @markallred28 caught 2 fish with his homemade bottle cap fishing lures for his Angler Badge. @Fahey is working through his Classics Badge and taking some impressively copious notes! For the Backyard Chef badge, @readonly-bear smoked pork butt, pork ribs, and a brisket. @ltos55 is easing his way back into TSL by working on his Backyard Farmer Badge and growing tomatoes, strawberries, potatoes, and various herbs in his garden.

@hodgbr20 summited Mount Rainier (14,410′) via the rather long Disappointment Cleaver route for the Mountain Ranger Badge. @tmlr Read Microadventures by Alastair Humphreys for the Microadventure Badge and was inspired to grow his adventure to-do list. @fbrow030 attended two live concerts (candlelight symphony tribute and Spanish flamenco) for the Music Badge. @elynch706 gave an award speech, delivered a 20-minute presentation w/ visual aid, and another 25-minute speech for the Orator Badge. @hemingwaywardson read Do Fathers Matter? for the Pater Familias Badge. @dannyh memorized the “Man in the Arena” quote and proved it by reciting it with eyes closed in a video for the Rough Rider Badge.

Some cool projects in the Hacker Badge this month as @brockcooper, working from home since the pandemic, set up a neon “On Air” sign outside his office that syncs with his work calendar and lights when he is in a meeting to let his kids know not to enter. @pjefferiestsl, tired of accidentally leaving his garage door open when he leaves the house, built a monitor that sends a notification to his cell phone when the door is open for longer than five minutes. Great examples of ingenuity and problem-solving, gentlemen! In the Handyman Badge, @chris75 laid new tile in his shower as part of a large bathroom remodeling project. @dan-lamberger knocked out some Lumberjack Badge work by felling a storm-damaged tree with a chainsaw. And for the Hunting Badge, @corvus303 went on a successful grouse hunting trip with some friends, and @ltoss55 shot a beautiful buck on his first ever deer hunting trip and even learned to harvest the meat on the fly thanks to YouTube!  

For the Rucking Badge, @adamhill completed a 50-mile ruck in under 48 hours, and @jarof completed a GoRuck Tough event! Well done, men! In the Sartorialist Badge, @hemingwaywardson finished reading The Handbook of Style. For the Sharpshooter Badge, @ChrisLTD showed how to hold, aim, and fire a rifle properly. And in the Wilderness Survival Badge, @ajaulner made a hunting/fishing gig.

@fbrow030 completed his basic rider course for the Easy Rider Badge. @stronghold completed an Adult and Pediatric First Aid/CPR/AED class for the First Aid Badge. @jimjjr completed several Frogman requirements at his local YMCA, including swimming 200 yards with good form. For the Craftsman Badge, @ssloup created a beautiful dining table. He ensured it could seat 16 people for his favorite holiday, Thanksgiving! 

Chapter Meetups

The success of TSL is dependent on members not waiting for others to take the lead, but choosing to take the lead themselves. Organize a meetup in your area! Here are some activities that local chapters have done lately:

The Chicago Chapter recently met at 7:30 a.m. for a strenuous group workout, consisting of the carry gauntlets from one of the agons and a free-weight circuit, before enjoying a well-earned breakfast together. The Arizona Desert Rangers held their 5th Annual Frogman Event on a boat in the middle of Bartlett Lake. They completed numerous requirements for the Frogman Badge in the 115-degree desert heat, and notably, nobody’s nipples got nibbled by Bluegills this year. Winning! 

Germany Chapter members met up “for a trip back to the very beginning of . . . civilization” at the Neues Museum in Berlin. The trio browsed the vast collection of antiquarian artifacts (dating as far back as the Ice Age) while discussing relevant history/philosophy, even taking a selfie with a bust of Zeno of Citium, the founder of the Stoic school of philosophy. The Wisconsin Chapter hiked six miles along the Ice Age Trail in Devil’s Lake State Park. They ascended 1600 feet, thus completing that week’s agon, and ended it with burgers and beer at a local brewery. @jtorres079 and @acmundy, hailing from the Orange County, California Chapter and currently in boot camp with Class 079, also got a hike in + knot tying at Car Wreck Trail in the Aliso and Wood Canyons Wilderness Park. Joel said the following about the meetup: “I had a great time hiking and doing badgework with fellow TSLer, Adam. If I do nothing else strenuous all month, I at least know that I have this ‘social’ to look forward to where I know I can get out there and do hard things. That kind of action is truly priceless.” Well done for getting together in person and while still in the boot camp, gentlemen!

Fifth Annual East Coast Festival of Strenuosity

The Fifth Annual East Coast Festival of Strenuosity was a resounding success. This year, 17 members gathered in the Pennsylvania forest for a long weekend of camping and strenuous activities, including badge work for Barbell, Frogman, First Aid, and Fighter as well as games like capture the flag and flag football. They even included workshops on Shakespearean comedy and bookbinding! 

A personal note from Stephen: From the shenanigans that naturally arise from camping together for five days to the downright ROWDY jam sessions with everyone’s instruments around the campfire or the deep and meaningful quiet conversations in between the festivities, this event truly is special and lives up to its reputation! I came as a stranger and left with lifelong memories and friends. I am certain you will have the same warm welcome and instant connection I did, if you come next year. If you haven’t attended a Festival of Strenuosity, or any meetups period, just GO! This right here, is what The Strenuous Life is truly about!


After your local meetups, please designate a point person to write up a brief “Strenuosity Report” and post it here. In the absence of a Strenuosity Report, we will not see that your meetup took place and won’t be able to consider featuring it here in the Bugle. To increase the chances of your meetup making it in the Bugle, the report should be a well-written summary of appropriate length with quality photos of the activity and members present. 

Upcoming Festivals of Strenuosity

Festivals of Strenuosity, aka “StrenFests,” are member-organized, regional, weekend-long+ meetups/campouts for skill-building, badge work, and all-around fun. StrenFests are easily the best meetups of the year for the chapters and regions that hold them. Don’t miss out if you can make it! Here are links and dates for upcoming StrenFests:

  • Third Annual Rocky Mountain Festival of Strenuosity (14-16 September)
  • Fourth Annual Southwest Festival of Strenuosity (20-25 September)

Gentlemen’s Dinner Planning Reminder 

The Gentlemen’s Dinner is an annual tradition which takes place in December. Members are encouraged to have a formal dinner with their local chapter at a restaurant and share strenuous accomplishments from the past year and hopes and plans for the year to come. With just a few months left in the year, now is the perfect time to get the details for your dinners nailed down. Don’t dither on these details; pick three dates, take a vote, and then book the reservation!

Keep living strenuously, everyone!

“You [have] to have the man who after defeat would come up and try again, and if he was defeated again, come up and try again until he wrested from defeat the splendid ultimate triumph. The men who are going to do good work for citizenship in this community are the men . . . who are not going to expect everything to be done for them, but who are going to do their share of it; who are not going to expect the way to be easy and smooth . . . but who are going to face the rough work of the world with the determination to do that work aright.”

—Theodore Roosevelt

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