Finding New Camping Buddies
I’ve been incredibly lucky to have gone camping with many awesome friends over the years. But sometimes, people get busy with work, kids and the rest of life. When that happens, don’t wait around for them to go on your next outdoor adventure!
We went on an awesome trip hiking the Western Uplands Backpacking Trail, and I’m pretty sure we’ll have many more adventures together in the future.
Here’s some lessons I learned from that experience. Feel free to share your own tips on meeting new camping buds, and how to ensure a successful first trip together!
Where to Meet Camping Friends
If you’re not up for camping solo, there are several avenues you can check out to meet fellow campers who might want to join you on your next trip. These are just a few ideas.
These groups span everything from hiking to rock climbing, paddling, outdoor walks, cycling and more. Some will already have upcoming trips organized that you can join. Browse around and see if something sparks your interest!
If you have a Facebook account, you can also join an outdoors-related Facebook group. In the search bar, type in the activity you’re interested in. You may also want to narrow things down by adding a location.
If it’s a “Closed Group”, you’ll need to make a request to join the group before you can read the discussion thread and post any comments.
If the group hasn’t made this a restriction, take a look at how active the group is and whether the types of outings mentioned would interest you. Once you’re part of a group, you can always be the one to initiate a trip.
Volunteer for Parkbus! Volunteers often ride up to outdoor destinations with a co-volunteer, just like I did with Norman. It can be a great way to meet other outdoor enthusiasts.
Find out how you can become a Parkbus volunteer here.
Parkbus actually just created a new website (still beta) called Campshare, where you can find new hiking and camping buddies.
You can make a post sharing the details of your camping trip (park name, dates, party size, additional comments), or view posts from other campers who are looking for company on their trip.
Currently, there are a few Ontario and British Columbia parks listed as destinations, but you can also submit a message to add a new park to the list.
Search online for outdoor clubs in your city or region. For example, I did a search for “Ontario hiking club” and found this resource listing member clubs and associations in my province.
Some clubs are specific to a trail, so you could also search the name of the trail you are hoping to hike and “member club”, “outdoor club”, and/or “association.”
Meet Up Before Your Trip
If your trip doesn’t involve going in a large, organized group, you might want to meet up with your new camping friend(s) in person beforehand.
This way, you can get a real feel for each other’s personalities and quirks. It’s also a lot easier to plan at least part of your trip in person, rather than through a bunch of email or phone exchanges.
Remember that open communication is key. You should be able to ask and answer questions without feeling uncomfortable.
Got an unsettling vibe? If you feel uneasy around them over a coffee, how are you going to survive the wilderness together? Be honest and let them know with as much advance notice as possible that you’ve changed your mind.
Hopefully though, meeting up before your trip will simply add to the excitement of exploring the outdoors with a new camping friend!
Plan the Right Trip
Make sure your first trip together is the right one for both of you. Personally, I’d start off short and simple if I were going camping with a new pal.
You never know whether you’ll truly enjoy each other’s company out in the woods. If you’ve only committed to a weekend trip, the end will soon come near, if that’s what you end up hoping for!
Think about your current level of outdoors experience, and whether you want to take on an ambitious or more laid-back route. Be up front about your skills and experience, so that you can collectively assess what kind of trip you’d both enjoy.
Of course, if one person is more experienced than the other, it could also be a good opportunity to learn some new skills through a more challenging trip.
Reconnect and Debrief
Depending on how the trip went, you might want to simply touch base by email to trade photos, or meet up for post-trip drinks to relive your glorious exploits together.
If you’re both up for a second trip together, perhaps have an informal conversation about what you both liked about your first trip, and how you might prefer to do things differently next time.
Take a Moment to Reflect
I love to reflect on what I learned from a trip. It’s a great way to remember the fun moments, as well as to figure out what I didn’t enjoy as much.
What things did you learn from your new camping friend that you’d love to incorporate into your camping routine? What did you learn about yourself as a camping partner? Were you two the right fit or do you think you’d prefer a different type of camping buddy in the future?
No matter how your experience went, you can always gain some valuable insights from it, so that your next trip to the outdoors is even better than the last!
>> Photo Credit (lady hikers and dogs): Lucy Cho