7 Tips for Taking Your Friend on Their First Camping Trip

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In this pic I set the camera for a 10 second time release and then I ate shit trying to get in the picture! So, you end up with two fools laughing hysterically.

Obviously today’s society is a very stay at home, anti social group of individuals who see the outdoors as the equivalent of running a marathon. Well over the years I’ve come to understand that the the wild IS for everyone, they just don’t know it yet. In many cases, a camping trip is one outdoor enthusiasts trying to talk someone, usually of the opposite sex, into joining them in the great outdoors. And in most cases the person who has never been camping usually has a difficult time adjusting to sleeping outside. I believe every person has that primeval wild side inside them, it just needs to be drawn out slowly. So from my experience, turning many city dwelling individuals into wanting to be the next Bear grills, I’ve put together a simple guide to help get your friends or significant other to take a walk on the wild side with you.

The Guide to Getting Anyone to Love the Outdoors!


Question Their Experience
First and Foremost find out what experience your guest has with the outdoors. Did they grow up in a rural area or in a downtown apartment? Have they gone camping in the past? What are the details of the trip? Did they stay in an RV with a TV and shower, or was it in a tent and they used baby wipes as their shower. Usually people always say they have been on a camping trip where they were “roughing it!” Obviously err on the side of caution because roughing it for some people may be a full blown survival situation and for others it may be going without Phone Service.

Start Small and Simple

Campsite at Zion NP

Once you have an idea about how far you can push them, you have to use the acronym KISS to plan a trip! Keep It Simple Stupid! You might be a survivalist badass who can climb Everest in a single bound, or pull salmon out of the river with your beard, but remember, your guest probably don’t even know what a beard is. Start small with what I like to call “cheater camping!” Rent a Cabin, a Yurt, an RV, or find a campsite with all the amenities like hot showers, temperature controlled clean bathrooms, etc. The shorter and simpler the outdoor adventure is, the less chance for things to go wrong, and more likely that your guest will return. Plan short hikes that aren’t difficult, or drive to the great view instead of hike. Avoid any areas with mosquitoes or really cold weather! Those two things will end a great trip real quick.

Make Them Overly Comfortable
Now that you have the perfect plan and you’ve got them outside, make their outside experience as cozy as their home. Whatever everyday items your guests just cant live without, find a way to bring that into the outdoors. Maybe your guest can’t go a day without brushing their teeth, blow drying their hair, Starbucks coffee, checking their email or missing a home cooked meal. Many campsites offer electrical hookups, and showers which can be a life saver for someone who isn’t use to roughing it. Bring pillows and extra blankets to place in the tent to keep it soft and warm instead of just the old ground pad and sleeping bag. Bring a French press for Starbucks on Trail! Get creative with the cooking and take the kitchen outside. This also gives you the chance to show off your cast iron cooking skills, your guest will rave about. Nothing smells better than bacon and eggs on a cast iron grill over an open flame!

Teach and Be Taught
Be a Mentor, a supporter, and then learn. Teach the student, then have the student teach the teacher. Most people like to learn new skills, and are excited, but people are usually nervous or embarrassed when trying something they don’t know. Get your guest involved in the trip, don’t act like a know it all, be humble and teach them the cool skills you know and love. Show them the best way to pack a bag, build a tent, bait a hook, or make a fire. Then on the next night give them a shot at making the fire, or building the tent, but don’t let them get discouraged and make sure you are always motivating them. Explain the calls of the wild to them. People see the outdoors as something to be feared instead of embraced. Explain that the sounds you hear at night are beautiful and not to be feared.  Sounds like the howling of coyotes, the hoot of an owl or the call of a moose are all to be enjoyed. Explain the different animal tracks on trail. Nothing is cooler than your friend heading into work on Monday to brag about all the new stuff they learned.

The WOW Factor

Thousand Island Lake, CA

This tip is the icing on the cake! Make sure that first adventure has a WOW factor somewhere in the trip. Find one visual scene that will burn a lasting memory in your guest’s mind that will have them itching to come back for more! Whether its a beautiful sunset/sunrise, a  splendid mountain view, endless night sky or close encounter with wildlife, make it EPIC! A picture worthy shot of your friend with the special scene will go a long way.

Surprise and Reset
The Surprise and Reset part of the trip can be as simple as extra candy on trail, to a night at a 5 star hotel. It’s up to you, depending on the difficulty or duration of your adventure, to determine when the best time to use this will be. It may be earlier than later depending on how hard you pushed your guest. Once you have hiked all day, camped multiple nights in the back country, or lived off mountain house meals, execute the Surprise and Reset tip. Take your guests into town to grab a beer and a sit down meal, order a pizza, have an extra box of chocolates for them that you pull out when they run out, or ditch the tent for a warm cabin to cap off an amazing trip. Whatever you do, surprise your guests so they aren’t wondering when all this nature will stop. Let them have a brief, relaxing moment that will reset them from all the new outdoor experiences.

Prep and Push The Envelope
The Final stage is to prep and push the envelope. Once you are on your way home, reminisce about the great times you had and the funny mishaps. Motivate your guest, explain how impressed you were with how they handled their first camping trip and prep them for the next adventure. Now that they have experienced a small piece of the outdoors, ask them what they are willing to give up in the future. Maybe they can shower in the stream, eat a mountain house, or bring a solar panel to check their emails on trail. Push them a little further each time and do whatever it takes to get them back in the outdoors. Follow this guide and you will have given someone the greatest gift of all. A Love for the Outdoors!

Backpacking In Kolob Canyon, Zion National Park, UT

I hope this helps you get that significant other, friend or family member off the couch and into the great outdoors. Feel free to send me some ideas you’ve used in the past to make someone fall in love with the outdoors.

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