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The three members of JakPak, Kendra Sellick (left), Taylor Sudermann, and Taviana Macleod. Photo: Courtesy of Jermemy Fecteau.
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U of O students compete in week-long European Red Bull challenge

With the declining value of the loonie, it may be time for Canadians to find a new currency to survive off of. Cans of Red Bull energy drinks, however, are probably not the first thing that comes to mind.

Three University of Ottawa students will be trading in their loonies (and toonies, quarters, nickels, and dimes, for that matter) for Red Bull “Can You Make It?” challenge in mid-April.

Fourth-year communications student Kendra Sellick, third-year marketing student Taylor Sudermann, and third-year international studies and modern languages student Taviana Macleod will be travelling to Europe to show that they have what it takes to survive a week in Europe by using only 24 cans of Red Bull as currency.

According to the competition’s website, the challenge will feature “165 student teams from 50+ countries around the globe.” The three U of O students, whose team name is JakPak, are one of four Canadian teams chosen to compete. They will forfeit their money and electronics for the week, and armed with only 24 cans of Red Bull, a special smartphone to record their adventures, and their “bartering skills and charm,” they will have to use the cans to secure travel, food, and shelter for the seven-day competition.

The challenge will end with all teams arriving in Paris, and one team taking home the grand prize—becoming Contiki Travel Ambassadors and spending their entire summer in Europe.

“uOttawa’s motto is ‘Defy the Conventional’, and this challenge is exactly that,” says Matthew Speyer, a U of O student and Red Bull student brand manager.

JakPak, whose name springs from their “Canadian lumberjack” attire in their competition entry video, believe they were chosen to compete due to their successful social media marketing and the unconventional route they took in their video by incorporating a storyline.

“Anyone on there can post (videos of) themselves traveling, whereas we went a more artsy and unique way,” says Sudermann.

The young women all bring different strengths to their team, with Sudermann’s marketing background garnering them a large social media following and Macleod being fluent in four languages, something that is sure to give them an edge when trying to barter in different countries in Europe.

“We all have different attributes that really would make our team stand out,” Sudermann says.

Although JakPak are now an inseparable team, they were not close friends prior to this competition, with Sudermann and Macleod being merely acquaintances and not meeting Sellick until Speyer introduced them to her when they were searching for a third team member.

“We hang out four times a week… I honestly think these girls will be (my) friends for the rest of my life,” says Sellick.

JakPak will be starting in Berlin, one of the five starting points, on April 12. They will have to visit six checkpoints to complete mental and physical challenges to gain more points towards the grand prize.

In previous years the “Adventure List” has included such tasks as getting a tattoo or going skiing. Their one smartphone will also be used to gain points by recording and sharing their adventures to get support from people back home through shares and likes of their posts.

Although using Red Bull as currency is a challenge in and of itself, Sellick believes that JakPak’s biggest challenge will be getting to know her teammates better and figuring out how to best work as a team. 

“We’ll (have to) learn more about each other and learn how to work together throughout the seven days.”

To see their videos and keep up with them on their travels in April, you can check out their team profile here or on Instagram at @thejakpak.

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