If you’re reading this, you probably already know the benefits of camping. Spending time outdoors has a number of benefits both mentally and physically. Perhaps more importantly, it’s fun and a great way to spend time with friends and family. I look back at camping trips as some of my fondest memories with those closest to me.
While you know how great of an experience it can be, perhaps you’re struggling to convince your friends of it. Maybe they’ve never done it before and are worried that the food might be terrible or that they’ll end up tangled in a tent as they hopelessly try to wrangle the poles into the correct position.
If you don’t want to spend your camping trips all by your lonesome, you’ll need to work on your persuasion skills to get those reluctant friends to spend their weekends in the forest with you.
What Scares Them
Some people just don’t like the outdoors and there’s little you can do to change their mind. You should carefully consider your friendship with these people… joking, but really what’s wrong with them? However, most people are nursing some sort of fear that prevents them from enjoying time in nature. These are just a few of the problems that are racing through a novice camper’s mind that causes them to stay home.
- Dangerous Animals
- Bad Food
- Time Away From Their Devices
- Being Too Cold
- Being Too Hot
- Being Incompetent With Their Gear
- Uncomfortable Sleep
- Being Eaten Alive By Mosquitos and Flies
- The Unknown
It’s your job as the more experienced camper is to understand these fears and look at how they can be assuaged. Fortunately, that won’t be too difficult and the little bit of extra planning you’ll put into these trips will probably make for a better experience for you too.
7 Tips to Get Those Friends Outside
Show Them What They’re Getting Into
With the advent of Facebook and Instagram, most of us have become amateur photographers. Snapping selfies at the summit and documenting every storying every step of tent setup has become the norm. While I don’t love how much technology is creeping into our wilderness experiences, it does mean that most of us have ample galleries of photos to show off after our latest camping trip. Have your friends take a look at them. Highlight how beautiful your campsites are and how much fun previous participants were having.
Re-frame the Experience
Those who have never been camping often imagine the experience as a survival scenario where they’re cold, wet, and hungry. Make it clear that a camping trip, especially one involving newbies, will involve eating good food, swapping stories around a campfire, and enjoying the company of friends. With the exception of sleeping in a tent, it shouldn’t be all that different that any other weekend for them.
Don’t go all out on the first trip with your novice friends. Pick a site not too far from civilization that has some decent amenities. Go somewhere with flush toilets and running water; it may not be as rugged as you’re used to, but it will help your friends feel a bit more at home. You may want to start even smaller by starting with a day hike just to get them used to being away from the comforts of the city.
Be a Fair-Weather Camper
While you and I might not mind a little rain during a trip (stomping through the mud is part of the fun, right?), your companions probably feel differently. Plan a trip during the months that are not too hot and not too cold, and as dry as possible. Then immediately before the outing, check the forecast to ensure there won’t be any rain or thunderstorms. No one wants to have their trip canceled at the last minute, but it’s important that you’re friends’ first experience is a good one, otherwise, it will be their last.
Lend Out Your Gear
As someone that’s been hiking and camping for a while, you probably have excess gear lying around. It happens, you upgrade and then end up with a whole closet full of old packs and sleeping pads you never use. Your friends will be much more likely to tag along if you provide them with your old gear, lowering the cost of the trip for them. Bonus: you’ll be very knowledgable about how to use everything, which should ease some of their concerns.
Tell your friends that it will be nothing but hot dogs and dehydrated meals and see how quickly their “maybe” to coming on your next trip turns into a “thanks, but no thanks”. Bring along a cast iron skillet or a dutch oven and release your inner gourmet chef. The internet is rife with creative camping recipes from roasted biscuits on a stick to homemade curry.
Make It Comfortable
For someone venturing out into the wilderness for the first time, it can be hard to leave behind the soft surfaces and the readily available food and drink that we’re used to. Bring a few of those comforts to the woods. 6-inch thick queen-sized air mattress. Check. Yeti cooler full of their favorite drinks. Check. Hammocks for everyone. Check, Check, and Check.
Relax and Enjoy Your Camping Trip
Now that you’ve got some ideas in your head about how to keep this trip low-key, safe, and enjoyable for everyone, be sure to have a good time yourself. No one likes a stressed out leader; plan ahead and have some contingencies in mind, so that when things do go wrong, you’re prepared and can seamlessly transition. Your confidence throughout the trip will inspire confidence in your companions.
Camping trips with friends and family are incredible bonding experiences. Of course some minor incidents are sure to happen: a midnight mattress deflation, a lackluster campfire, or maybe even some burnt marshmallows. For the most part though, camping trips aren’t difficult (if you don’t want them to be), and once your companions realize that, they’ll be having fun along with you.