What the Heck is Zag the Zonkey?
A children’s book?
A children’s book? Huh? I thought you were a travel company? This has been a question we have heard over the last three weeks since we shared our latest Zag project, Zag the Zonkey. For those of you that haven’t seen it, as a gift to our coaches and friends for the holidays and in celebration of 15 years of sharing the world we created a children’s book. This project was created to further highlight what makes us a unique travel company. That being, we have a burn to create meaningful and transformative travel programs for our teams and athletes. We don’t sell travel. We create Travel. Play. Give Back. experiences that stretch and challenge our athletes with the hope that we change and enlighten them in some small way. This book is a way for us to communicate this ideal and to share our message of transformation with a broader audience.
Hearing coaches as we travel the world.
We wanted to share a little more background on this passion project we have created. For 15 years, we have traveled the world with some of the world's best coaches in a variety of sports. We are also former NCAA coaches with nearly 30 years of combined coaching experience. Our family and friends are coaches, teachers, and social workers. People with a passion for helping others grow. In addition, we are parents who see the challenges we parents face. Over the years, we have had many discussions with fellow coaches about athletes, coaches, and culture changing. Are these changes good or bad? Are changes happening so quickly that we can’t even know what is good or bad? Our Zag the Zonkey children’s book project is our way of creating a dialogue around these issues raised by some of the world’s best coaches, parents, friends, and family as it relates to how best to shape and raise our young people. These books are an extension of our mission to inspire new ways of thinking about our kids and culture. It is a unique way to address some of these 21st century issues parents, coaches, and kids face. If we want to inspire change in culture, it starts with the children and their parents.
The first book titled, Herdwork & Hoofs, was inspired by Gino Auriemma's commentary on teamwork found here. Herdwork & Hoofs is a story about:teamwork, playing your roll, being proud of your uniqueness, inclusivity, respecting that coaches, teachers, and parents have your best interest in mind, and more. Check out the book here. At the end of the book you will also find a theme song, coloring book, and an animation.
We would like to extend a special thanks to those that contributed in getting this project out the door! Thank you Calvin for all the hard work on refining our rough illustrations, the animation, and coloring book! Thanks to our Zag team members, Kate Ely and Adam Field, for their input and editing. Thanks to the Meccage kids for lending their voices to the first theme song!
More about Zag the Zonkey
We have big plans for this project. This isn’t the first and last book. Then again, it may be and that is ok too. We hope it’s just the beginning. We have created characters that have strengths and weaknesses both inside and out. They are imperfect but unique and special in their own way. All the characters were created to be basic so that kids can draw and connect with them in their own art. We provide a coloring book and soon, in partnership with our family at FlipaClip, we will offer animation templates so that kids can learn to animate w/ Zag! We want kids to engage with these characters in unique and active ways. Each book also has its own song. Music inspires us in ways that writing and reading can’t. It sticks with us. Furthermore, we want to create a community to discuss the many issues we all face. We want the community to contribute to the next stories and be a part of creating positive and transformative messaging through social media, basic storytelling, art, and music.
In the children’s book space, a book generally takes 1 to 2 years to go from idea to the broader public. With how swiftly culture changes, it is difficult to put out relative content if it happens over a 2 or 3 year cycle. A lot can change in 2 years. For us, we care more about sharing ideas than making sure it is perfectly edited. We believe in crowdsourcing our editing so if you have suggestions for edits, please let us know. If no one reads these books, we don’t care. That indifference allows us to share real topics and tackle real problems without outside influence. If one person reads them, enjoys, and feels inspired by them, then we have met our mission. We can shape and improve our books along the way, but the priority is getting relevant ideas out quickly. So, we hope to put out a new book, song, animation, coloring book, and animation template every 3 to 4 months. Then again, Herdwork & Hoofs may be the last. We like to be mysterious! The beautiful thing is that we have no expectation. Some books may hit the mark, some may totally bomb. Our next book in the pipeline will be Zommas, Choppers, & Drones. It is a story about the conflict we parents feel with protecting vs developing independence in our kids. In our 3rd book, we will touch on more relevant subjects as Zig struggles with gender expectations and social media in, Zig Snaps a Tail Pic. So, lots of fun stuff on the horizon. If you have topics or themes, please let us know!
For you coaches out there…we hope this provides a glimpse into our passion to shape and transform young people. That is what we do and we hope that we can have the privilege with you and your team traveling with us around the world!