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Author Event: Campfire Stories by Dave & Ilyssa Kyu

  • Branches Books & Gifts 40044 HWY 49, Suite B1 Oakhurst, CA 93644 (map)

Campfire Stories is a collection of short stories to be read together around a fire. Please join us as we welcome Dave & Ilyssa Kyu, co-authors of Campfire Stories on Saturday, November 10th from 11:00 am - 2:00 pm. This event will be combined with our holiday preview weekend!

Our national parks are beautiful and unique places, often serving as an introduction to the outdoors and inspiring an appreciation for nature and wilderness. Similarly, stories and storytelling can serve as an introduction to other places and foster a powerful emotional connection to nature. Campfire Stories brings together tales about our national parks; some are by well-known writers such as John Muir, Bill Bryson, and Terry Tempest Williams, while others are from pioneer diaries or have been passed down through generations of indigenous peoples.

Co-editors Dave and Ilyssa Kyu spent six months traveling and researching the stories collected here. They gathered the best materials from public libraries, historical societies, arts and cultural organizations, museums, research centers, and national park archives. Park rangers, historians, artists, curators, educators, and local residents all offered guidance and suggestions. The goal was to discover entertaining, diverse, and engaging writings that reflect each park's essence--as well as just fun to share. Campfire Stories focuses on these six iconic national parks:

  • Acadia National Park
  • Great Smoky Mountains National Park
  • Rocky Mountain National ParkK
  • Yellowstone National Park
  • Yosemite National Park
  • Zion National Park

Each story includes an "About this Story" reflection, offering insight into how Dave and Ilyssa discovered the tale, why they selected it, and some background about its writer. Dave and Ilyssa also share their own thoughts on each of the parks they visited, as well as tips on how to be a compelling storyteller.

Campfire Stories was published with Mountaineers Books in August 2018.

The book is an anthology of  tales, songs, ballads, legends, short stories and myths collected from the communities in and around 6 of America’s favorite National Parks. The stories capture the essence of these lands and give a voice to the communities that share them—evoking deeper respect for these places.

Because these stories have been collected from the communities in and around the parks, they will capture the diverse history, cultures, people, and experiences of those that that have collectively built, shared, and enjoyed these parks across the country. We hope these short stories will reignite our imagination about the wild.


In March 2016, we successfully raised  $20,264 via Kickstarter to bring this project to life—that's 135% of our target goal! 

From May through August 2016, we spent 2 weeks each in 6 National Parks, immersing ourselves and meeting folks to uncover themes and stories from each of these places. We traveled to:

  • Acadia National Park

  • Great Smoky Mountains National Park

  • Rocky Mountain National Park

  • Yellowstone National Park

  • Yosemite National Park

  • Zion National Park

We met with folks in libraries, museums, historical societies, arts & culture organizations, and local residents to get a sense of the historic and contemporary context of each place. Our research provided us with the background necessary to be emotionally and contextually aware of the stories we selected. 

Why National Parks?

They’re beautiful and unique places, and it is our hope that these stories generate an interest and impulse for new, unfamiliar audiences to visit and experience nature. And the time is right— in 2016 the National Park Service celebrated its centennial!

We feel that National Parks serve as a great introduction to the outdoors—providing modern amenities in unfamiliar places. Much like the intention behind the founding of the National Parks, nature should be protected and made accessible for everyone to enjoy—not just the wealthy or privileged. 

Why a book? Why now?

Stories play a powerful role in creating emotional connections necessary in creating individual connections to nature. Stories teach us lessons, build our empathy, and share ideas that are emotionally important in the art of living.

Whether somebody is reading Campfire Stories from their living room, a local city park, or around a campfire in a state or national park (or even their own backyard!), we hope these stories create new individual connections to, and positive experiences with nature, especially for younger generations who are increasingly disconnected from the outdoors—generations of people who, one day, will be responsible for protecting it. 

Oh, like ghost stories?

Not exactly. We've specifically chosen not to seek out ghost stories, as they dominate the campfire story genre and there are many excellent spooky story books out there. You’re out in the woods, it’s dark—it makes sense. But there are so many more stories to tell when you’re out in the woods.

There are stories of the landscape, the trees and animals that inhabit a place. There’s the human story of the land, and ballads for the folks who’ve lived & breathed these places. Campfire stories can capture all of these ideas, and can reignite our curiosity for the world. Sharing these stories evokes a camaraderie that we’ve lost—one that lives inside a good campfire story.


About the Editors

Dave Kyu

Dave is an artist and writer. Born in Seoul, South Korea, and raised in the United States, he explores the creative tensions of identity, community, and public space in his work. He has managed public arts projects for the Mural Arts Program, and the City of Philadelphia. 

Read more on his website here.

Ilyssa Kyu

Ilyssa is a freelance design researcher & strategist, and founder of Amble. Her work with design agencies over the years has helped purpose driven organizations further their positive impact in the world. She is currently seeking projects that support and bring design-thinking to environmental conservation efforts.

Read more on her website here.

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