Picture spending a sun filled summer weekend, outside, with your best buds, exploring the unknown wild, with good food and drinks. No distractions from email, work or Facebook because where you are, the internet and cell towers can’t reach. Your adventure could be backpacking, canoeing, or setting up at an Alpine Hut for the weekend. I’ve posted about a couple of adventures that I’ve organized with my friends; Paddling the North Saskatchewan River and Heli-Hike Weekend at Mt. Assiniboine and it’s from trips like these that I’ve developed a reputation for being an excellent adventure organizer. Whether it is a short day trip or a multi day weekend trip, here are my tips for organizing a wicked time out in the wild for you and your friends.
1. Not everyone needs to be outdoor experts but they do need to have a positive attitude. One of the best things about group adventures is that it is an entrance opportunity for new people to experience life in the outdoors. The thought of spending a weekend in the wild, isolated from modern day conveniences can be intimidating to most, but a group setting breaks down that barrier. However, it is important to emphasize that everyone needs to bring a positive attitude to the table. Even if a person has never hiked before, their ability to overcome mental barriers when the grind gets tough or when the rain won’t stop, will make or break their experience and the group’s. A negative attitude is like a contagious poison that can bring down a whole group.
2. When choosing the group size, take into consideration the difficulty level of the adventure and the number of experienced people in the group. Big groups (10+ people) are best suited for day adventures, easy adventures or moderate adventures with multiple experienced individuals. You need to set the group up for success. Not only will you turn people off of outdoor activities if you select something too difficult, but you are putting the group at danger if the overall experience level of the group isn’t up to par.
3. Set the group up for success, preparation is the difference between a happy camper and a crabby camper. This is probably the most important tip for adventure planning, especially if you have people that have never endeavoured out into the wild before. The things that may seem trivial to the experienced hiker/backpacker/canoeist, may be cause of anxiety for beginners. You need to break everything down to manageable pieces. I am notorious for my adventure Excel spreadsheets; a tab for the trip description (trailhead location, duration, map), a tab for equipment (broken down between clothing, cooking and camping), a tab for food (broken down by meal as often its split up between the group). On the equipment tab I also note where a person can rent because often not everyone owns everything they require. Splitting up the responsibilities, especially around meals, makes things a lot easier as well. How prepared a person is, translates into a successful trip and will determine the likelihood of them coming back for another outdoor adventure.
4. Reserve NOW. Big groups are hard to book equipment for. Especially if you’re planning on needing it over a national holiday or long weekend. Because believe it or not, you are not the only people to think of taking advantage of an extended summer weekend. For example, to show how neurotic I am about planning group adventures, I booked our canoes for this year’s canoe trip (which is planned for September long weekend) in March. To be fair, I needed 10 canoes, 20 pfd’s and 30 paddles. I also booked our ski chalet for our February ski weekend at the end of August. It’s crazy, but the larger the size of your adventure inspired group of buds is, the earlier you need to book! Which brings me to my next point. Spots on trips are limited, you’re putting your hard earned dollars down to reserve equipment/accommodation, therefore you need to enforce people’s commitment by collecting payments as soon as possible.
Spring has just arrived and before you know it, summer will be upon us! Start planning an awesome adventure for you and your friends. Don’t forget my tips for glamping! No one said you have to be totally roughing it! In summary, my best advice is pick the right people and an adventure that best suits the group, make sure everyone is prepared and book early. There’s something to be said about sharing a common interest in the outdoors with your friends, and being able to expose others to it as well. Happy adventuring!