BreakOut | Interview ft. Josi Reckling

WoBistDude: Please introduce yourself

Josi: My name is Josi Reckling and I’m from Dresden, Germany. I started working with Breakout two years ago and I’m currently the head of the press team.

WBD: What is BreakOut?

Josi: BreakOut is a charity travel competition which takes place once a year in Berlin, Munich and Cologne. Teams of 2 have 36 hours to get as far as possible away from a starting point without using money for transport. They can travel throughout Europe and beyond. It was founded in 2014 by Robert Darius and Moritz Berthold, two students who were inspired by English jail breaks.

WBD: Who participates in this competition?

Josi: It’s mostly students and young professionals because of the time commitment but anyone can join. Last year we did have two 60-year-old women.

Sights and Sounds from BreakOut 2019 in Munich

WBD: How do challenges work?

Josi: Anyone can suggest a challenge for your team to do on the trip in exchange for a donation (big or small). The BreakOut organization will also propose a few as well.

WBD: Could you share some statistics with us– number of participants, money raised, distance traveled?

Josi: The number is different each year but last year we had 110 teams/ 220 people from Munich, Berlin and Barcelona. We earned 69, 429 euros for our previous donation partner EinDollarBrille and traveled 109,712 km (3 times around the world).

WBD: Where does the raised money for this event go to?

Josi: Our team votes on an organization to donate our raised funds to each year. This year it is Zeltschule e.V., an NGO which builds and manages tent schools for Syrian refugees in Lebanon while providing their families with food and medicine. Our goal is to support a special school called the Crocodile School  for one year and give the 400 children there lessons, medicine and support for their families.

WBD: Can you explain how sponsorships work for BreakOut?

Josi: Organizations can sponsor people for every kilometer that they travel. As a team you need to find sponsors in the form of friends, family, coworkers or companies. People and organizations can also do direct donations to BreakOut as well.

WBD: I read about an app for people to follow along, can you explain more about this?

Josi: The app is primarily for the teams to post content along with their GPS location from their phones. Everyone from the public can see this content once they register as a participant or a viewer.

WBD: What is the furthest that someone has gone, and could you describe their trip?

Josi: It was 3,293 km last year to Hurghad, Egypt. They were a team called TravelTracker and they started in Berlin. They went to Munich by train and car and then found someone to pay for their airline ticket to Egypt. They weren’t the only ones who flew, some teams convinced people to pay for their tickets and others convinced flight crews to take them along.

WBD: Have you personally gone on a BreakOut Trip?

Josi: I’ll be taking part in my first trip this year on June 14th. I’m starting in Berlin and I want to visit a friend of mine in Barcelona — that’s like 1,700 km. We’ll be using train and car: maybe it’s going to work!

WBD: Who will you take with you on this trip?

Josi: An old friend of mine, we’ve been to school together so we’ve known each other for 11 years.

WBD: Does the winner of the competition get a prize?

Josi: We have sponsors for Breakout winner categories. They include things like most kilometers traveled, most total donations and most donations per kilometer and funniest challenge posted. 

WBD: Could you describe the organizing team of BreakOut?

Josi: They are people in Berlin, Munich and Cologne. Our headquarters are in Munich where the organization was founded. Currently we have 40-50 people. The organizers all have fulltime jobs or are students and volunteer their time. We spend weekends meeting up and organizing but we don’t get paid. We give away all the donations that we receive.

WBD: Could you tell us any interesting, unexpected or memorable stories that have come out of this event?

Josi: There have been some really funny challenges. Someone had to drive a car in their underwear. Another person had to find a really fast car to drive and they ended up in a Ferrari. Last year, two girls went to the northern coast of Germany and found themselves sailing on a boat with 20 guys celebrating a bachelor party. Anything can happen. You need good friends to think of funny challenges for you.

WBD: When is the event this year?

Josi: For 2019, it will start on the 14th of June 9:00 am and ends on the 15th at 9:00 pm.

WBD: Could you name one challenging aspect of what your organization does?

Josi: There is some risk involved with so many people traveling on the road. We have a central station in Munich running for over 36 hours–shifts of people answering calls from the teams to handle emergencies. Generally, we tell the teams to post every 3 hours or let us know they are going to sleep. This lets us know that they are safe. Most of the calls go like this: “I don’t have internet and I’m lost, can you tell me where the closest train station is? ”.

WBD: Please tell us one rewarding thing that comes out of working for BreakOut?

Josi: It’s the people. You meet so many friends and get the feeling that you are doing something good. It’s a little creative life project that you want to give your all to. Also, young people don’t need to put money in to help or participate.

WBD: What is planned for the near future of BreakOUT?

Josi: This year we want to organize further and run the event more efficiently. Aside from this, we want to get bigger, find more sponsors and possibly find a new starting city.

WBD: Where can potential sponsors, event participants or organizers go to learn more about BreakOut?

Josi: We have all the information on the website. You can fill out this form to let us know how you would like to be involved. You can write emails to sponsor us or message us on social media (Instagram, Facebook, Twitter).

FYI – Since it is way past June 14th, we will be putting together an update where Josi details her 36 hour experience! Look out for the update in the near future!

Josi Bio: I’m a 22 year old student from Dresden. I love traveling and currently I’m studying for a communications science bachelor at the Technical University of Dresden. I’m really open minded and I love talking – I talk quite a bit. I love playing volleyball also run press for BreakOut.

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