Interview: Nick Cummins, Rogue Gentlemen's Club

Interview: Nick Cummins, Rogue Gentlemen’s Club

The statistics surrounding men’s mental health in Australia are pretty alarming. According to beyondblue, almost six men die by suicide a day in Australia. Moreover, studies show that men are less likely to seek help for mental health conditions than women.

Whether it’s put down to the perception of a stigma surrounding the discussion of mental health issues, or societal pressures for men to be ‘macho’, there’s no doubt something needs to be done to encourage men to find help when they need it.

Enter the Rogue Gentlemen’s Club, a travel and adventure project started by former professional rugby union player and TV personality, Nick ‘Honey Badger’ Cummins, and his best friend Blair Frendin. The idea of the club is to get groups of men together to spend a few days in nature, undertake a bunch of outdoor activities, and open up with each other and find their passions and purpose.

Interview: Nick Cummins, Rogue Gentlemen's Club
Rogue Gentlemen’s Club founders Blair Frendin and Nick Cummins

Ahead of Father’s Day, we spoke with Nick about what men can expect from a Rogue Gentlemen’s Club ‘Mission’, the power of nature, and their new Father & Son Mission in Sydney.

Why did you start the Rogue Gentlemen’s Club?

I’ve always had this project in mind, and the timing felt right. Statistics show that males commit suicide at a rate three times higher than females, and sometimes it takes a non-traditional approach to rediscover our identity and passion for life. The outdoors and nature has consistently proven a source of clarity and motivation for me. It’s been a grounding tool through my biggest challenges and has also been where I’ve experienced some of my favourite memories.

I want other men to understand what an adventure in the great outdoors can do for the mind, body and soul. We find that a cracking couple of days in nature really can be the catalyst for profound learning, listening and change.

What role have you found travel and experiences out in nature has played on your own wellbeing?

Nature has always been the pinnacle for me when it comes to wellbeing. Whenever I’ve had challenges, I’ve always found the outdoors to be the place where I can fully process and understand my emotions, thoughts and feelings. A bit of time away to connect with yourself always results in a newfound sense of strength and direction.

One of the best rugby games of my career followed a quick adventure to the middle of nowhere in Western Australia. It was a big game that I was anxious for, so I took off for a morning of quad biking. I rushed back in time to play and ended up having a ripper of a game and felt completely present.

The goal is for RGC to help men learn the power of disconnecting. It does wonders to be able to get off-grid and figure out what’s happening in your mind.

Interview: Nick Cummins, Rogue Gentlemen's Club

What types of men and ages are you seeing join your trips?

We’ve had men from all walks of life join our Missions. It’s been a mixed bag of guys between 16 – 60 years old, simply looking to take a break from their busy lives, enjoy the great outdoors and build new bonds.

You’ve talked about creating a platform for men to talk about their fears and vulnerabilities. How do you facilitate that on the trip – or is discussion and support something you find occurs organically?

The RGC groups are always small to medium-sized, and we find that through the activities we do, it is inevitable that these guys start to let their guard down and exchange stories. Of course, there’s a few hard eggs to crack, but signing up for a trip shows us that they are looking for some sort of outlet.

Setting your intentions and understanding what you’re hoping to get out of it is something we really focus on. Each day our Rogue Missions will come to an end around a campfire where there is meaningful conversation and genuine friendships formed.

What are some of the adventure activities attendees will take part in, and is there a certain level of skill or fitness required to go on the trips?

We do a variety of things, including camping, fire building, morning workouts, cooking, survival skills, fishing, snorkelling, boating, mindfulness sessions, hiking and the list goes on.

While some of our Missions do require a fair degree of fitness, we have a range of options which can work for the guys that aren’t as fit as they would like to be. The Kimberley mission is particularly demanding, with an itinerary focused around trekking and swimming. Then you have Queensland missions, which have a more laidback schedule and activities.

One of the takeaway’s from an RGC Mission is education on good food and exercise. The goal is to enable these guys to apply this to their day-to-day and empower others around them.

Interview: Nick Cummins, Rogue Gentlemen's Club

We understand you are introducing father and son experiences. What will those trips entail? Where will you be hosting those tours and is there a minimum age limit for ‘sons’ on these tours?

At this stage, the father and son experiences are being offered in Sydney. Father and son Missions are awesome, because you get to watch them connect in such a raw and authentic environment. The youngest we can take is 12-years-old, and it’s cool to have these young blokes come along because it really can become the foundation of something huge. 

After the trips, how can the men on your trips stay connected?

Everyone who comes on a trip will be added to a Facebook group, which myself and the other tour leaders are incredibly active in.

Something that is really important to us is keeping these bonds strong following the RGC trips. As blokes, we don’t open up enough. We want to make sure that once these guys have come on a Mission, we keep the connection alive so we can celebrate each other’s successes and offer support in times of darkness.

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