Interview with Adventurer and founder of Campfire Stories Selfa Verlaat

Interview with Adventurer and founder of Campfire Stories Selfa Verlaat

July 04, 2019

We met Selfa during the first Campfire Stories Festival back in 2017. It was an amazing weekend spent with new friends, creative and inspiring discussions, great food, and beautiful scenery. 

Photo credits: Barbara van Lodensteijn, Amrita Panday en Andrew Groves

Can you tell us a bit about yourself?

I am Selfa and I love to jump into rivers, lakes and the ocean all year long. It makes me feel alive! I’m always in search of the next adventure, although I‘m scared of heights and get sea sick very fast (even when I am surfing).

Learning new skills, meeting new people, and discovering new places and being outdoors is what I love, campfires are my guilty pleasure….ok, and chocolate ;-)

I am on a mission to show as many people possible how beautiful our planet is. I believe that by reconnecting with nature and each other, the world will become a better and happier place. That’s why I started Campfire Stories

So tell us what these Campfire Stories are all about?

Campfire Stories is a micro-festival (only 100 tickets available) set in the Dutch countryside that invites storytellers, change-makers, creative doers, and outdoor lovers from all over the world to come and share a weekend full of inspiration.

Campfire Stories is an eclectic mix of talks and workshops. We’ve gathered a diverse bunch of passionate people who have carved out their own path. They’ll challenge you to think in new ways, learn new skills, step outside your comfort zone, reconnect with nature, and reconnect with yourself.

We ask these storytellers to do something they’ve never done before. To be vulnerable and open up in an intimate setting. No slides, no movies, just a story or a skill. We want to hear stories from the heart, including all highs and lows; tales of passion, resilience, and compassion. Through listening and exploring new skills and ways of thinking, we hope to send you home feeling energized and inspired.   

All this can range from spoon carving, botanical foraging, bread making, fire starting, ice bathing, storytelling, and ukulele strumming, to Haka stomping, conscious living, happiness and kindness, adventures with purpose, tiny house dwelling, sustainable design, morning yoga, or stargazing.

We get together at Roggebotstaete, a young nature reservation and experimental garden in the Flevoland polder; an oasis, on land that was reclaimed from the sea. Roggebotstaete lets people reconnect with nature, with edible nature at its core. They believe that when you are connected with nature, your choices will be healthier for you and the the planet.

The campsite is intentionally back-to-basics. For some this might be outside their comfort zones, but spending just one night in a tent removes barriers and allows nature to create a feeling of equality among the participants. Hot water for the showers is heated over fire, and you’ll lather up and rinse off amongst the trees. Guests spent the entire weekend outdoors or under canvas, most likely near to one of the many fires.

Food is extremely important at Campfire Stories. Most meals are vegetarian, based on and made with the fresh and organic vegetables grown either in Roggebotstaete’s vegetable garden, or by local farmers.

Any meat used comes from Roggebotstaete as well; this may be lamb tended to by the on-site shepherd, or bacon from the pigs that vermiculite the woods of Roggebotstaete. To reduce our footprint, all ingredients come from Holland.

The fires are always burning, as they are an essential part of the weekend. As well as preparing all our meals over them, the campfires are a natural meeting place for new friends, where guests can share stories, drinks, and experiences. Even if the weather isn’t great, you’ll always find a dry, warm place at a burning campfire.

So when did you hear about The Bamboo Brush Society?

No idea actually… Hahaha. I met Roger through my friend and co-founder of Campfire Stories, Lyke, but I was already brushing with Bamboo Brush Society before that. Lyke told me how it all started with a single plastic toothbrush on a beach. I’m a sucker for a good story and this is the perfect example of doing Business for Good!

And what about the brush?

Our entire family has been brushing with the Bamboo brush for over a year now. We all have subscriptions, so we never have to remember buying a new one. The main reason for me to switch to bamboo was the environment, but I also like the look and the feel. It’s an item that sparks conversations about what we can do as individuals with the people we meet on the road.

What’s the best spot you ever have brushed your teeth?

That moment of brushing your teeth in front of your tent, checking out the weather, stretching, and slowly waking up in nature: Magical! If I would have to choose one, it would be waking up after a 5-day trip through the toughest sea I have ever seen, to see icebergs floating by, and whales gliding through the water……

You can choose 4 people to help you safe the world, go!

My very dear friend Esther because she is smart, caring, fun, and she knows a lot about politics and the things that go on in the world. The Dalai Lama to help us reconnect with nature and each other. He could be in charge of all education. Oprah because she spent so much time listening, she probably knows what to do and who to get on board. Finally, my kids! it’s their future, so they should be involved.

Tell us your best travel story?

Visiting Antarctica was a dream of mine since I was 7 years old. One day, I decided to give it a try. I didn’t have money for a ticket, but, long story short, a miracle happened and

we managed to get 2 spots on a small expedition ship for a 2 week trip from Argentina to Antarctica! It was a battle to get there, crossing the Drake Passage which is the most dangerous sea in the world. But so worth it! After 4 days, all of a sudden there were no more waves, no more wind, no more clouds, just the magical world of Antarctica. Like stepping through the Narnia closet! Whales playing, leopard seals hunting, floating ice mountains, and penguins everywhere...

I am so grateful that I got to do this early in my life, so I can enjoy the memories every day.

What can you recommend us to watch or read?


I never ordered more books in my life than last year. Because of Campfire Stories, I am reading a lot to help me develop business skills such as marketing, brand building, sales, as well as biographies of inspiring people.

Just finished Start something that matters by Blake Mycoskie, the founder of TOMS, for whom I recently organized their European Brand Launch of their new Giving Strategy. An amazing brand and another prime example of for Business for good.

I love Japan and am fascinated by their ceremonies and how they have integrated nature in all their ancient stories and beliefs. Shinrin-Yoku’s Forest Bathing from Dr. Qing Li talks about the healing power of forest bathing. It has been scientifically proven and common practice in Japan to spend more time in the forest to prevent sickness, lower stress levels, and improve your health in general.

Last year I did a course that combined Wim Hof’s training methods with ancient Native American meditation skills. We spent to times four days in the forest, in the middle of winter. I loved it and started reading more on the American Tracker School philosophy. I loved reading The Vision from Tom Brown Jr.. It’s one of those books that you have to read at the right moment. If you’re not into meditation and mystical stories, this is not your book. If you are, it’s a must!! And last, although not actually a book, every volume feels like it: the beautiful outdoor lifestyle and conscious living magazine Another Escape.


I always try to look at the world through a optimistic lens, but sometimes it is good to show people what we are doing to the planet. Midway Island is an incredible documentary about albatrosses on Midway Island and the plastic we consume. It’s a great motivation to get up and Do.

Dodo’s Delight of Five 10 is lighter and will make you feel good! A happy bunch of outdoor enthusiasts, climbers, and adventurers on board of the Dodo’s Delight (a 10m sailboat) battle the arctic ice, polar bears, and ferocious storms, in search of the holy grail: unclimbed big walls and musical enlightenment.

“For as long as we are alive, we owe it to ourselves to live as well as we can by doing the things we love” These are words from amazing surf photographer Mickey smith. In his short surf documentary “Dark side of the lens” he shares his deep connection with nature and life. His voice, the shots, the music… Watch it!


I love podcasts and listen to them a lot. Here is what I am listening to at the moment:

  • Creative Rebels
  • How I built this with Guy Raz
  • Oprah’s Super Soul Conservations
  • Hurry Slowly

To round this up, which photo on your mobile will make us smile?

But no pressure, right? Haha… My phone is full of happy memories and most of them make me smile, but the ones that make me laugh most are our “hiking group selfies”. We love to go on “micro adventures”. On or two nights outdoors, discovering the trails of Holland. Adventuring we call it. We never know where we end up, we just start walking and the day unfolds. Lots of laughs, good food, bad food, amazing places, horrible places, rain and shine and always a lot of fun!

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