For Pete Searby, school wasn’t just a bore or a struggle. It was a broken system. As a kid, he yearned to run free outside and immerse himself in the creative arts. But instead of swearing off the educational system for good, he went back to teaching, where he watched kids go through the same frustrating process of being told to ignore their passions and just perform well on tests. That’s why, today, he’s creating incredible creative and outdoor experiences for young boys in the Chicago area through his own organization, Riverside.

Sparking Inspiration Through Adventure

Riverside is an organization that unites art with adventure, faith with fiction, and creativity with companionship. With an ever-evolving set of programs for filmmaking, theater, writing, folk music, and outdoorsmanship, it’s providing an antidote to an educational system that focuses on quantifiable results instead of shaping a human being.

Pete’s mission through Riverside is to use the power of imagination to transform our culture from one of cost-counting and playing it safe to one of community-building and playing to play. We weren’t created to sludge through drudgery — we were made to create, just like our Creator.

“What kinds of experiences can I give these kids to give them a new vision of what it means to be human?”

Pete believes that being inspired shouldn’t just be something we get to do on the weekends or during one week of summer camp. Cathartic, intense experiences are what form our internal narrative of our greater journey. We need adventures and stories of our own to build our characters in this life and cultivate hope for the next.

Check out the first part of our conversation here. The conversation continues in Pete Searby and the Imagination, Part II, where we discuss one of the most exciting elements of Riverside: original musicals.

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