Are you a city gal turned wilderness lass? Perhaps you just moved and haven’t quite established your kickass social network? Maybe you’re turning over a new leaf and have decided to ditch the gym-rat life for the great outdoors. Whatever transition or reincarnation you’re going through, one thing is certain: You need friends. Good ones. And, if you’re looking to get close with nature, friends of the outdoorsy variety are essential. But where to find such friends? It’s not as simple as walking up to someone on a hiking trail, striking up a conversation and saying “Hey, would you like to me my friend?” Or is it? Read on to discover 5 effective and fun ways to make outdoorsy friends so you can turn your solo adventures into a party of plenty!
Put Yourself Out There
You hear this a lot in dating. “You’ve gotta put yourself out there” to meet a guy. In other words, if you just sit at home or frequent the same old hangouts without ever changing anything up, you’ll never meet the man of your dreams. The same goes for friends. If you’re trying to get into outdoor sports, such as climbing, hiking, mountain biking, or skiing you’re not gonna make friends with folks unless you step outside of your comfort zone. That being said, join a Meetup, take a class, or ( as was mentioned before) strike up conversations with people when you’re on your solo outdoor adventures. You’ll be surprised to find how many friendly, knowledgeable, and helpful people exist and who are more than willing to hike some trails, climb some routes, or ski the slopes with you.
Ask Questions, Take Advice, and Seal the Deal
There is no better way to make friends than to be willing to learn from someone who’ve just met. For example, if you’re interested in skiing and you meet someone out at the bars who just happens to ski, pepper them with questions. How’d they get into it? Where do they get their gear? What type of season pass do they have? Would they like to ski sometime?
When you ask people questions it shows that you’re genuinely interested in them and their outdoorsiness. Also, it’s a good way to gauge if someone is the type of outdoor badass you wanna hang with. Moreover, if they’re more proficient than you are at outdoorsing, take their advice. Not only does it help you become better and safer, but it also builds a bond between the two of you.
To “seal the deal” make sure that you get your new friend’s contact info and you follow up with an outdoor date. Tell them to invite their friends along too.
Try EVERYTHING! Seriously, All of It
When I moved to Colorado two years ago I didn’t have any friends, any gear, and I certainly didn’t have a clue (sad, isn’t it?). But, luckily, I wasn’t afraid to try EVERYTHING. I went to Meetup groups, took classed through REI, volunteered for trail restorations, and joined a climbing gym. Pretty soon, I had developed a wide circle of outdoorsy friends, including hikers, climbers, skiers, snowboarders, and mountaineers.
Don’t limit yourself to one avenue for making friends. Try them all.
Be a Leader
Perhaps you’re already an outdoor badass but you’re friends haven’t quite caught up. This is the perfect opportunity for you to be a leader. Teach your roommate how to belay and climb, take your BFF on a hike, and organize a group camping trip. Just because your friends aren’t wilderness ready doesn’t mean that they can’t learn.
Variety is the Spice of Life
Sometimes we get stuck in the limiting mindset of thinking we can only be friends with people who are just like us: “I’m single, therefore I can only be friends with singles” or “I’m a climber, therefore I only want climber friends.” The problem with this mindset that is that it cuts you off from some potentially great, outdoor, friendships. So what if you’re single? Two of my best, outdoorsy, friends are a married couple and they totally rock. They’ve gone on climbing, hiking, and canyoneering adventures with me. So what if you’re only into climbing. Try making friends with skiers or hikers, then teach them how to climb. The beauty of most outdoorsy people is that they are typically willing to try it all. So add variety to your friendships by building relationships with people who are older than you, with people from different parts of the world, and people from various outdoor cultures. Also, don’t hesitate to be friends with the opposite sex. Some of my best outdoor buddies are men.
If you follow these simple and effective tips, you’re certain to develop a community of outdoor friends who will support you in and join you for all of your adventures. And remember, be relentless, be fearless, be adventurous, and, above all, be wild.