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How to Make Outdoorsy Friends in a City

How to Make Outdoorsy Friends in a City

10/27/18

For outdoor enthusiast, living in a city may seem like a challenging place to find like minded individuals. It’s the last place you would expect to find people with a passion to go where few have been before. Yet even the wildest of thrill seekers live in urban areas, (Alex Honnold has a house in Las Vegas.) Cities are base camp for many adventurers, because it gives them access to connect with people of similar interest.

DC has provided me with friends that I have shared great adventures with. They have pushed me to new limits and challenges I never imagined myself in. The city itself will push you out of it, and the siren call of the mountains is so much easier to hear. It only takes a little effort to connect with your fellow explorers. Here’s how to do it.

First a few truths: Making new friends is a difficult challenge anywhere, but a city gives you a vast amount of opportunities to make new connections. You will have to get out of your comfort zone and talk to random strangers. Sometimes it will pay off, and other times it won’t. But keep in mind that it’s never as devastating as you imagine it to be when someone isn’t interested. Throw the bait into the water enough times though, and you are bound to make a catch. So don’t think about what happens if someone isn’t interested in a new friend, imagine what happens when someone is. Then the search becomes much easier.

Visit your local outdoor store: In the city, REIs and Bass Pro Shops become temples to those looking to escape it’s concrete maze from time to time. There’s no better place to find people with shared passions than these stores. You already know walking in that the love for adventure is mutual. Don’t be afraid to put yourself out there and talk to other customers. Simple questions about an upcoming trip or favorite outdoor hobbies are topics that we all like to talk about. Engage with the staff too and pick their brains on where to meet others. You’ll be happy that you did.

Attend events specific to the activities you enjoy: There are also plenty of events going on in a city to connect people with your shared passion. One great resource is Mappyhour.org. While its only in a few cities right now, it’s a social network made specifically to bring nature lovers together through monthly happy hours. I know I mentioned it before, but REI also has plenty of events. From outdoor courses to member parties they always have something going on. I met one of my friends at a rock climbing party sponsored by them. Look for similar events on Facebook or Google. A quick search can bring up more results than you would expect.

Learn a new activity: Your hobbies will change slightly when in a different environment. Fishing opportunities aren’t the best in DC, but there are a few indoor climbing gyms. So after the REI climbing party I couldn’t resist the urge to keep going back. Now my new hobby can provide me with an opportunity to meet people, either at gym sponsored events or on the bouldering wall.

Volunteer: Volunteering is a great way to make new friends in a city. To make sure that those friends have an interest in the outdoors, I recommend finding organizations with a focus on the environment. Most of the time they are helping because they want to preserve the world’s most beautiful resources. I met one of my good friends volunteering at the Adventure Station, a National Park Service booth that educates people in the DC region on outdoor opportunities. (One perk of volunteering with NPS is a free annual park pass after a certain amount of volunteer hours have been reached. See opportunities here). Local trash clean ups and tree plantings can yield similar results too.

Join a club: There are tons of outdoor clubs in most cities, focused specifically on the activity your interested in. Google search for back-packing, biking, fly fishing or whatever activity you’re into. If you are having a hard time finding one, consider starting it yourself. There could be other people out their hoping that you do.

Meetup.com: There is a meet up for everything! Find one that you already have an interest for, or something new you may want to try. Most people at the meet ups are looking for new friends, its just a matter of getting out to them.

Keep an eye out everywhere: I met my first friend in DC at a garden center. Typically gardeners love the outdoors and share a special hippie connection with outdoor enthusiasts. When she mentioned she was new to the city, I asked if she was interested in making a new friend. Sure enough our connection to nature kept the friendship going, and eventually her group of friends became mine. Now we all go camping and hiking together, while also enjoying the excitement offered in DC. In short, you never know where or when you’ll meet your next friend!

Consistency: Frequently doing one or more of the suggestions above only increases your chance of making a connection. You may meet new people every time, or you may see the same person and develop a deeper friendship. Regardless it makes it easier every time.

If you are craving to find new and adventurous friends, the city is one of the best places to find them. The opportunities are endless. You just have to climb some mental mountains to get to them. But just like real mountains, when you get to the top you are always pleasantly rewarded.