On a facebook page I follow we have been discussing how to recruit helpers for your family backcountry adventures. I have never really thought much about this, as we generally don't need any helpers. We still often try to get people to come on our trips for the company and it can definitely be challenging. Especially since most of our friends are people we have met in the outdoors back when we did longer and harder trips. Now most of our outdoor friends either have kids of their own or they often prefer to go on their own more hardcore adventures when they have the time to get outside.
One of the comment on our discussion was made by a friend of mine with twins, she told us about an interaction with a friend, that went something like this: "I told my friend that it would be hard for us to get out in the backcountry with the twins and we would have to find kind-souls "pack-mules". But she noted my friends shouldn't have to make us a big favour to help us carry some of our stuff because they are our friends and they should just want to spend some time with us in the wilderness. It may be a tamer version of backcountry I know and we shouldn't count on them every weekends, but in theory, they should be just happy to be with us, and sure that'll mean carrying a bit of a heavier weight and going less far. It helped me see things differently. In the end, that's not back-mules that we want, it's people to go with and have a good time."
I think that she is totally right. I am sure that all of my friends would be happy to come on our trips every once in a while and I am sure they would all be happy to help in any way they can. I am always excited when my friends with kids starts to venture into the backcountry and I would be happy to help them in anyway I can. Still most of our friends have not been on a trip with us as a family, and I have been wondering how I could change that. Below are some of my thought on how to get your friends to join your family friendly adventures.
1. Let people know that you want to go
Let your friends know that you are ready to get into the backcountry and that you would like their help. It can be hard to ask for help, especially if it for something you want to do for fun. However, if people don't know that you want their help they are unlikely to offer it. Also, let your friends know what type of trips you wish to go on. If your friends know that you are interested in going to a backcountry hut, they might think of you next time they are planning a hut trip.
2. Be open to new challenges
If your friends invite you on a trip - go! Even if the destination or circumstance doesn't seem like the ideal plan. This winter one of our friends invited us to a cabin on the Duffey leaving the next morning. My first thought was that the drive was too long, and we didn't have enough time to pack, but we decide to give it a go anyway. It turned out to be one of my favourite trips this winter.
3. Plan trips well in advance
This is probably the main reason why we sometimes end up travelling alone. We often plan our weekend on Thursday night and friends often already have other plans. This of cause depend on the type of friends you have. For most of my friends a weeks notice would be ideal. Others might need a month notice. I organize a few trips each year where we book campsites or cabins in resorts, and these trips need to be booked months in advance. One these trips we always manage to gather a few families.
4. Go on weekends with bad weather
We only have one friend that actively and consistently seek out trips with us as a family. She is very active herself and go into the mountains as often as she can. Therefor she often invite us out on weekends where the weather is looking subpar. Those weekends are great for hut trips.
5. Invite people with less experience
Depending on your own experience level this can be a very useful or totally useless piece of advice. We have definitely used this strategy. People with little experience are often happy with smaller objectives, but are often still capable of carrying a bit of extra weight. This strategy is particularly useful for a basecamp style camping trip, where you hike in to a camp spot and then take turns hiking to the top of a nearby mountain. The newbies can help carry stuff to the campsite, and then you can take turns helping them navigate to a summit. We have invited both people we know and people we don't know on trips like this.
6. Choose interesting objectives
Easy objectives does not need to be boring objectives. In winter or spring time go to a hut with great skiing around. In summer time go to a hut with scrambling objectives near by. In spring or summer time set up camp in an area with climbing, scrambling or hiking objectives. This way your friends can help you to the base camp/hut and then they can take off skiing/scrambling/hiking for a few hours.
7. Invite people with injuries
This is not so useful if you need help with the extra weight, but great if you need extra help around camp. Your injured friends will be happy to get into the mountains even if it is very low key.
8. Join a club or a community
We have been part of the VOC since we were students. We often post our trips on the VOC's message board, and we have recruited both friends and people we don't know this way. You might also be able to join trips organized by the club, although is more of a gamble and you definitely want to check in the organizer first. Regardless, the clubs are great places to meet new friends with similar interests. Other clubs and communities in the area include: ACC, BCMC, clubtread, wanderung, Vancouver Outdoorsy Parents, Hike-it-Baby
What do you do?
Have you found it hard to get into the backcountry after kids? How do you get your friends to go? If you don't have kids do you ever join your friends with kids?