Persuading indoorsy friends and family to spend time outside with you this summer may seem daunting or like somewhat of an impossible task but it is possible! Combining these tips and tricks to effectively share your love of the outdoors with friends and family will without a doubt get you some new adventure buddies lining up!
Here’s how to introduce your indoor-leaning loved ones to the outdoors:
Extend an invitation
It really can be as easy as sending a message or and saying “Let’s go for a paddle this weekend!”. Express why you want them to go and why you think they would enjoy it. Make sure to start small. If a paddle is too much for your first adventure perhaps suggest a picnic or take them to see a waterfall. If you encounter some hesitation after the invite or they suggest something else, consider doing the activity they suggest or suggest something else you know with certainty they would enjoy! Your end goal should be to spend quality time with your friend and forcing them to do something they won’t enjoy will only lead to a poor experience for both of you. Don’t forget relationships require compromises and our friends help us grow and expand our horizons, it’s a two-way street!
Be gentle and ease them into outdoor activities. “Go big or go home” isn’t something you’ll want to apply to this scenario. It is important to remember that what sounds enjoyable or easily doable to you could be entirely the opposite for your novice friend. Maybe skip the 40km bike ride or that long hike with the brutal inclines. You want to ease them into the outdoors and perhaps start with an hour of relaxing paddling or a short walk in the park. If you’re taking them for their first camping experience try and pick a campsite with service. It might be a good idea to also bring some comfort items or something to enjoy afterwards to celebrate your accomplishment. Make your friend some hot chocolate at the end of your hike or treat them to a drink post paddle!
Take the lead
This one is pretty straight forward, if you are inviting your beginner friend on an adventure, it should be your responsibility to plan everything: the meeting time, place and gear required. This is important for two reasons:
You want to make this experience as easy and painless as possible for them,
If they’ve never done this activity, the planning portion can be very overwhelming and stressful. Don’t let them get psyched out before the adventure begins!
Give your friend some advice on what to wear for the activity. Nothing ruins a day quicker than being too cold, too hot or wet. Anticipate your friend’s need by thinking about what they might forget and bring an extra pair of socks or waterproof layer to lend if they need it. You should take care of all the details to make this as easy and pleasant as possible. Bringing extras also means bringing things that are fun; tempting your friend with your hammock is always a good idea because is there anything better than laying in a hammock while listening to the sounds of birds chirping?
Another aspect of taking the lead on planning is doing your research. Try and aim for mild weather transition seasons like fall or spring. This makes clothing choices easier for your friend who might not own clothing required for a comfortable snowshoe adventure or mid-winter mountaintop trek.
One of the last important things to remember when taking the lead in planning an adventure with a new adventure buddy, is to try and think of the mistakes you’ve made in the past and ways you can prevent these things from happening to your friend and weighing on their experience. Remember the blisters from your first pair of hiking shoes? Bring some moleskine in case your friend is experiencing this as well!
Your friend will guide the pace
Let your friend set the pace and follow along! There is nothing worse than struggling to keep up with someone when you’re already outside of your comfort zone trying something new. Slow and steady makes for comfortable conversation (that’s why you brought your friend!). Choose a flat trail (less than 300 feet of elevation), keep in mind that your friend may not have the same level of fitness as you. Be the voice of reason, kindness and gentleness if your friend is feeling overwhelmed or any other mix of negative emotions, be positive and encouraging and remember to take as many water breaks or snack breaks as you need.
Keep it up!
You got your friend outside, woohoo! Now keep inviting them and watch them become more confident on the trails. Combining outdoor activities with non-outdoorsy events is also a great way to keep them engaged! Go kayaking and then go for a beer or get a delicious treat after a day hike. Introducing them to the community is also a fantastic way to highlight the camaraderie outdoor enthusiasts share! Bringing them to a weekly adventure club or a group hike is a great way to expose them to other kind supportive people.
Make it fun!
This is arguably the most important part- have fun! Tell them stories of all the fun and interesting things you’ve seen and people you’ve met. Play up your campfire cooking skills, invent a campout themed cocktail to bring along. Sharing pictures and stories of all the fun you’ve had hiking might just prove to your friend what they're missing out on by staying inside!
Sharing one of your favorite activities with one of your favorite people can be very rewarding. You might find that you seem to always learn something new about a friend out under the stars! :)