It is with a very heavy heart that I inform you that my long-time mentor, friend and colleague Karl Rohnke died last night. He was 83.
I know many of us, if not all of us, have been touched in some way – directly or indirectly – by his games, his many books (including the seminal Silver Bullets,) his training workshops and unique sense of humour & adventure, not to mention, his original innovation with Project Adventure.
Other than for the work of Outward Bound (and Karl worked with OB for a few years,) there are few people or organisations in this world that work in the adventure-based/experiential industry that do not trace their roots back to PA, and therefore, Karl.
Per Karl’s wishes, other than a private family gathering, there will be no physical service to memorialise his passing. However, plans for a celebration of his life and influence is being planned for May 2021.
I am hopeful that the whole COVID19 thing will have passed by then so that I can travel to the US to celebrate his life with Gloree (his wife,) his family and many, many more people whose lives were and continue to be touched by his spirit.
If you or your career have been impacted by Karl, his books, his training or simply his infectious sense of humour, please add a comment below or on my Facebook page dedicated to Interactive Group Games & Activities.
In the Gratitude section of my fourth book Serious Fun, I wrote:
Gratitude is one of the most powerful emotions one can bring into their life and offer to others. I acknowledge my deepest gratitude to Karl Rohnke – for throwing a stone into the pond of adventure programming so many years ago. You could never have known how far that initial ripple would travel. I have thoroughly enjoyed surfing it.
Thank you, Karl. You are missed, terribly.
Update: If you are interested in reading Karl’s public obituary notice, click here.
ps: the featured photo captures a moment of joy between Karl and my (then) three-year-old son in Dubuque IA in 2015. Karl shared with me at the end of that fun-filled 4-day visit (my family made to his home) that he was genuinely concerned about hosting a little boy in his house, but in the end, he fell in love with him. To know that I could have an impact on Karl made me feel really warm inside.