By Hailey Hirst
Even though solo time in the outdoors is gratifying and valuable, spending time together can make a hike or backpack that much better. Unfortunately, it can feel hard to find friends or create a community in adulthood. There are so many distractions, obligations, excuses, and fears that prevent us from putting ourselves out there.
Seeking new adventure friends is a topic that’s popped up before in our She Explores Podcast Facebook group. It’s also one that Gale tackled in the She Explores book on a page called “Building Bonds in the Outdoors.” But it’s a topic worth revisiting.
This is probably the least intimidating place to begin. Truly, there are so many groups that offer digital community (and in-person activities) that it’s hard to make a list that feels comprehensive—especially because some groups are small or niche, and vary by region and activity.
Many of these groups have chapters throughout the United States:
Join a group and get involved in their affiliated Facebook Groups, planned group activities, or other resources.
Closer to home, check out local outdoor stores, guide shops, or community centers to find out what’s going on where you live (or in the place you’re visiting). What local clubs, teams, or groups exist that you might be interested in? Do they host meet-ups or events?
This could be something local, or it could be something you travel to. Many of the groups and organizations listed above host events too.
All of these groups, organizations, and events exist because individuals made plans and created a community where there was none before. If you’ve got an idea, the willingness to make plans, and the guts to ask others to share in the experience with you, you might be surprised how excited people are to join forces.
Even if it’s not an organized group, social media can be a great tool to connect with people who share your interests.
Instagram makes it easy to engage with people you find either through hashtags or from actively commenting with similar accounts. As with social groups offline, circles of common interest form online too. Reach out and engage with people.
So maybe your plans fell through or you haven’t made any yet. Go anyway. Talk to people on the trail. Bring a snack to share. You never know who you’ll meet. Plus, if you’re hiking the same place, you already have something in common.
It takes time to really get to know people. Attending one event or meet-up might not build a strong enough bond, but consistently showing up (in person or online) can get you somewhere.
Try inviting a new connection on a hike or lunchtime walk around a park. Send a link to an outdoor documentary you’ve been wanting to watch and see if they’re interested too. Love to read? Start an adventure book club and meet regularly to discuss outdoor books.
Be patient and open, and remember that in friendships, like all relationship, you get what you give. So, be generous, curious, and open-hearted.
Banner image by Gale Straub
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