A campfire, toasted s’mores and great conversation on a summer night under the stars might sound like an ideal way to hang with your friends—until you realize that you don’t have a single pal who would join you for a day hike, let alone an overnight in the woods.
Camper, we have a problem. Here are some ways to introduce your “indoorsy” friend to the great outdoors and remain best buds.
Extend an Invitation
Sometimes it’s as easy as calling up a friend and saying “Let’s go on a short hike this weekend.” Tell him or her why you think they might enjoy the scenery, fresh air, and time away from the laptop and smartphone. If you encounter reluctance, lead with an offer to do something that he or she enjoys, like shooting pool or listening to live jazz. After all, relationships require compromises and our good friends help us grow and expand our horizons.
Don’t attempt too much too soon. You may be game for a 20-mile bike ride or steep four-hour hike, but keep it short and sweet for your novice buddy—an hour or less. Afterwards, celebrate your accomplishment by treating your friend to a coffee or beer. Remember to start gently; no brutal inclines or tricky terrain.
Take the Lead
If, for example, you’d like to take your friend kayaking, it should be your responsibility to plan everything: the time, place and necessary gear to pack. Advise your friend on how to dress. Nothing ruins a day faster than being too cold, too hot or too wet. You take care of all the details to make it as easy and painless as possible. For more complex activities like kayaking, mountain biking or cross-country skiing, give basic, minimal instruction, and keep it flat: flat water, flat trail, flat track. And bring tasty snacks.
Keep Pace with Your Friend
Let your friend set the pace for how fast you go, and joyfully follow suit. This is not the time to beat your Strava record. Go slow and steady and carry on a conversation (that’s why you invited a buddy in the first place). Keep in mind that your friend might not have the same level of fitness as you. Be positive and encouraging, and be sure to take several breaks for water.
Keep it Up
Only after you take a few short day hikes should you suggest overnight camping. At this point, your friend should be confident that you won’t act like a jerk on the trail.
Sharing one of your favorite activities with one of your favorite people can be very rewarding. You might find that you learn something new about a friend outside the bar and under the stars.