The Power of Third Spaces

As seen in our September 21, 2023 Newsletter – Subscribe Here

Many people ask, why do we love our annual Guys Fishing Weekend? And I am confident that all of the guys involved in our trip, would have the same answer. That we just get to shoot the shit and do something we love.

Most of life today is absorbed by the monotonous every day tasks, and mortared together with staring at our personal screens, with any crack of time left filled with sleep and basic personal hygiene. The majority of that is done alone for most people, either by choice, or by the nature of the task.

And when you do get a chance to hop out of the grind, and go to a barbeque or a social event, it is just a constant “catch up”.

“How are you doing?” “What have you been up to?” “How is Sally?” “Oh that is so good to hear. We definitely need to get together soon!” and then on to the next person. Repeat that until the uncomfortable feeling of “I have to get out of here” seeps into everyone’s subconscious, and then it is over.

Now that was a pretty draconian write up of what goes on at a social gathering, but I venture to say, it wasn’t too far off from most parties. I have rarely left a party feeling like it has added to my soul. Sure it is great to see people, and “catch up,” but we are always focused on the “next” time we can get together with so-and-so.

Why is that?

We believe it is because you don’t really get your soul’s questions answered. It is yearning for real connection, not the same script that Bill has been preparing and spews to everyone to make them feel a certain way about him. He wants to make it look like he really has it all together. Spoiler: they don’t. No one does.

And so your soul leaves the party feeling lit up, but not fulfilled.

This is where “Third Spaces” come in. This is a term coined by sociologist Ray Oldenburg, which refers to places other than home (”first place”) and work (”second place”) where people are able to show up and interact without a motive. His definition of Third Spaces has been summarized by other sociologists to include 8 criteria:

  • No Obligation or Prerequisite to be there
  • Level Playing Field
  • Conversation is the primary focus
  • Must be easily Accessible and Accommodating to people’s needs
  • The regulars set the tone, attract new members, and make people feel at home
  • Wholesome, Unpretentious and Accepting
  • The mood is playful
  • A home away from home

When our Guys Fishing Weekend was originally created 27 years ago, I don’t think we really knew what was being created. It was an extended “catch up” with our boys, to go do something together and create some memories. And frankly for the first few years, that is what it was.

But as guys began to feel more comfortable it began morphing into one of these “Third Spaces”. Fishing became a reason to be there, but no longer the main purpose to be there.

It is fun and playful. A place where you can be yourself and no one cares about the rich flashy guy, or the guy just scraping by. The guy who has an incredible dating life, and the one who just can’t see a path forward with his significant other. The one with kids, and the one who is a kid.

We are equals.

As you spend time in a Third Space like the one we have created at Guys Fishing Weekend, it begins to become a mirror and a measuring stick. It is a place where you can try on a part of you and get feedback, but in a safe place with people you respect and admire. You can get true feedback on how you are progressing through life, away from social media and the “hustle porn” telling you that you need more.

I always learn something new every year I am there, and find out more about different walks of life. I learn about the challenges of men older than me, but can provide a bit of feedback that may help ground them in a situation or remind them of what is fun about life. It is a place where we all can grow and be more comfortable.

But that is enough about what GFW is to us. You probably want to hear what this has to do with you.

Our ultimate vision of Guys Fishing Weekend is to create Third Spaces around the globe for anglers to come together and connect with one another. We want fly shops, bait shops, fishing lodges, and guides to create and use their spaces as open gathering spots or watering holes, where people feel welcome to show up with no motivation other than to meet other anglers, chat, and laugh.

With a flip of a switch, places that really don’t want to tell you anything about where to fish unless you buy something, can become places where people can gather, try out gear, perfect a cast, and just laugh with one another about “the big one that got away”. And by proximity, you will buy more. A win-win.

And with this type of connection, people can then start planning their own annual Guys Fishing Weekends. And really begin to feel the soul fulfilling power of true male bonding and friendship.

The dream of fixing the world with an annual fishing trip seems far fetched. Maybe it is. But we know from experience the power behind the connection, organically grown through 27 years of commitment to it. When we help others flip that switch and see what a new perspective can bring, they too will feel the strength in bonding. When we succeed, we will create a better world.

So our challenge to the community is to create those Third Spaces we all need.

And if nothing else, go create your own trip. You will reap the rewards faster than you know

Shopping Cart
Scroll to Top