Starting a new outdoor adventure activity can be hard. Its even harder if you've never even tried before. There's lots of questions. How and where to begin, and am I able to actually do the activity?
WHY IT’S HARD TO START
Starting something like climbing, canyoning or even just hiking, can be a big step for many people. Like me, we didn't all grow up exposed to the outdoors. Many of us live in big cities and only find our passions later in life. So the way to begin a new outdoor adventure activity may not always be obvious.
And from the outside, adventure sports can also seem like small niches that are hard to break into. In a way, they sometimes are. But stick with me...
I ran a outdoor adventure group on Meetup.com a while back for about 2 years. We had over 2000 members from all walks of life. In that time, and long after, one thing that always stood out to me was this:
Many people want to do adventure activities and sports, but they just don't know how to get into it.
I was getting asked time and again by participants on the rock climbing and abseiling events that I personally ran,
“How do I do this on my own?”
“Where do I go to start?”
“Can I actually do this?”
So why is it so hard to break into these sports for some of us?
THE KEY TO IT ALL!
A lack of confidence might be the cause, but is not always the case. Even with a ton of confidence in ourselves we can still struggle to break through.
So why is that?
Adventure sports have dedicated participants who love their sport. Taking new people out can be difficult. Investing the time in mentoring can often be a let down as people decide its not for them or just take the backseat in the learning process. This can cause initial hesitation in taking on beginners which often appears as disinterest.
People always comment and say they would LOVE to do this or do that. But when crunch time comes to buy gear or commit to a trip, they are quiet and you can hear the crickets.
So the key thing to remember when starting any adventure sport or activity, for a way to break in, is this:
And here is what it means…
TIPS FOR STARTING ANY ADVENTURE ACTIVITY
Being enthusiastic doesn't mean all you do is tell everyone you are keen and excited to try the new outdoor activity. There’s more to it.
► You want to learn and do so with or without someone helping you.
► You ask ‘why’ and ‘how’ tactfully, having researched as much as you could beforehand, and are prepared to listen and absorb the information given.
► You sort out your own gear, you find out what you need for trips, and you make efforts to learn how to use it.
► Get the gear (or at least some of it) before you get into the activity. Not only is this investment a sign of seriousness that you want to do it, but it will also prompt you to actually commit to the activity.
► You commit to trips, and you certainly don’t bail and flake for no good reason.
► Offer to carry gear like ropes or bags on trips. Be a team player. Buy a beer (or slice of cake if you are with me, for example) afterwards to really get in the good books.
► You may put word out you want to do a trip but get no responses. Being enthusiastic means you keep trying. Be patient, it’ll happen.
► Be pleasant to be around. Have some social skills and generally just be a good person to hang out with.
LACK OF CONFIDENCE? NO WORRIES!
Of course you can have lots of enthusiasm but a lack of confidence can still stop any progress in starting your chosen path.
If your confidence is related to how you think you will be perceived by others in the adventure niche, have a think about this:
► We all suck to begin with. Some more than others, that’s just how it is, but this is where enthusiasm kicks in to keep you going. Enthusiasm means you stay with it and keep trying.
► We all make mistakes when we begin something new. Learn from them and move on.
► The hard work experienced people have put in isn’t visible to you when you begin. Remember that.
And if your confidence is related to the question about whether you can actually do the adventure activity (like physically or mentally), have a think about this:
► Every adventure sport or activity has a bunch of people that get into it in their later years, are handicapped in some way, or have odds against them. As an example; climbers missing limbs, being blind or with degenerative diseases go ahead and climb anyway. I mean, there are skiers still going strong at over 90 years of age.
Why? Because they are ENTHUSIASTIC!
The fear of starting something new can put a lot of people off even trying. But we know that getting out of our comfort zones is good for us, especially when its outdoors. Finding specific passions is a great way to stay happy and healthy.
And with the above tips, you will make the transition into a new outdoor adventure activity much easier!