Nate Fluellen came a long way from summers of playing outside in Calumet City.
He became “World Wide Nate,” a growing media presence of traveling and experiencing the world.
At 11:30 a.m. Saturday, Fluellen will speak on “From the Southside to Worldwide” on the main stage at the Outside Experience, a new show with an eclectic mix of outdoor focuses Saturday and Sunday at McCormick Place Lakeside. Kids from Chicago Adventure Therapy and Chicago Voyagers will be on stage where he will moderate a panel on how those adventure programs have impacted their lives.
His goal Saturday is simple and profound.
“A Fireside-chat setting, talking and sharing my story,’’ he said. “I Want to inspire my audience to think about life and experiences outside. There is a gigantic United States and World to explore.’
He means that literally.
Fluellen was born in Chicago and grew up in the south suburbs (his late sister Laini was a star athlete at Thornwood). At 13, he moved to East Chicago, then attended Bishop Noll. It’s a Chicago experience he describes as a “hybrid of city, south suburbs and northwest Indiana.’’
Powerful memories come from his summers in Calumet City, especially around a nearby pool.
“Every summer, we swam every day,” Fluellen said. “We had a climbing tree and we had vivid imaginations. Cartoons in the mornings, then play with my guys outside. Our excitement was getting outside.”
Two forces helped turn him from a Chicago kid outside into “World Wide Nate.”
His mother, Diane Artis, traveled regularly on missionary trips.
At Tennessee State, international economics professor Galen Hull inscribed his book, “Crossing Cultures: Memoirs of a Travlin’ Man,’’ with a challenge to Fluellen to visit more countries than the 80 Hull visited. “World Wide Nate,’’ which Fluellen created in 2004, is now in the mid-60s and climbing.
“It is not a mission about self accomplishment, whatever I accomplish I want to give back,’’ he said.
He’s been very conscientious about giving back and involving partners such as Patagonia.
“I want to use my platforms to expand their options,’’ Fluellen said. “Take those moments to get outside of their environment.’’
Fluellen has been more regular on traveling with his mother, in part because when his sister died he realized he had only one clip with her. (Laini died at 39 from triple negative breast cancer.) So he is consciously building a visual history of traveling with his mother, who has not been to Asia or Antarctic yet.
Antarctic is the only unvisited continent for Fluellen,
“Hoping December or January, I would like to get it out of the way,’’ he said.
Living in Los Angeles, surfing is part of Fluellen’s routine. He shared many outside adventures: scuba diving, paddling, rock climbing and ice climbing in Hyalight Canyon in Montana a few months ago. That list is not even remotely inclusive of all.
Considering the extent of his travels, I wondered if Fluellen would consider outer space.
“I have no desire to leave earth,’’ he said. “I will leave that to my grandkids.’’
“World Wide Nate’’ details are at worldwidenate.com.
Outside Experience show information is at OutsideExperienceShow.com.
FISH KILL: Multiple readers reported a fish kill at Braidwood Lake over the weekend, including one reader tweeting the sighting of thousands of dead shad.
Fisheries biologist Rob Miller toured the cooling lake in southwestern Will County on Tuesday and found some dead fish, but “nothing significant.’’ A better judgment of the extent of the kill will come in the every-other-year survey this fall.
“There were people out fishing and catching,’’ he said Tuesday.
STRAY CAST: Baseball’s all-star game is to other all-star games what a bison is to a nutria.