When one hears the words “social media” people may automatically think “indoors”. Today’s millennials spend an increasing amount of time on social media and can retreat from actual interaction with other people by assuming a virtual character. With the large number of apps, games, information and photos that are available online, it can reel people in for hours on hours, and many have become addicted to this online world. Unfortunately, regular, social and outdoor activities tend to take a backseat for those who are “addicted” to social media. Luckily, I have experienced the other side of the spectrum and have used social media to get me outside.
I can admit to spending quite a bit of time online – on Instagram, for the most part – but, I have found a balance, and as a result it helped to get me outside even more than I was before. When I started my account @brookewillson about 5 years ago, I had NO idea the opportunities waiting for me. At first it was simply about snapping and sharing any random images with friends, but over time, I found myself narrowing my photos to include only images from the outdoor adventures I continually found myself on. In turn, I also found myself following mainly the outdoor, hiking, and camping active lifestyle feeds featuring amazing nature photography.
I have always loved the outdoors, but the photos I was continually seeing on Instagram had me dreaming even bigger. These people and photos lit a spark in me, and I knew I didn’t want those dreams to stay dreams. I soon found myself writing out a bucket list: hikes I wanted to do, photos I wanted to take, and adventures and camping trips I wanted to go on, whether it was close to home or across the globe. I looked up to these online “strangers” as role models, and I began contacting some of them, asking if they wanted to meet up for a hike or adventure. There are thousands of people out there, just like myself, who want to get out and do things, but don’t know of others who are willing to join.
Get Inspired. Get Connected. Get Outside.
This is a motto I stand by. It’s one thing to scroll online, day after day, looking for inspiration, dreaming of all the places and things you could do. It’s entirely another thing to take that next step and make it happen. Get connected with like-minded people and proper resources, then get outdoors together and make it happen! Whether it be for a hike, bike ride, nearby camping trip or jet setting to an adventure far away, the opportunities are endless.
Over the last three years I have met up with hundreds of like-minded people, and have hosted “Instameets” through Instagram’. I am grateful for each and every one of the friendships and memories I’ve made, the knowledge I’ve gained, the adventures I’ve pocketed, the conversations I’ve had, and the confidence I’ve built along the way. Social media can help inspire and connect, and when we do #getoutside, it’s about leaving the phone behind, being present, and taking in every moment possible. I find great joy in photography and being able capture moments to look back on, although I do try to limit the amount of time I spend behind the camera when I’m out on adventures. It’s all about balance.
21% of millennials say being without Wi-Fi is a barrier to spending time outdoors, but for me, being able to spend time out in places with zero Wi-Fi/or reception can be an added bonus and something we should all look forward to. The outdoors should be a place where we can disconnect, relax, re-centre and fully enjoy Mother Nature, along with one another’s company and conversation.
Gear Recommendations for Group Camping
On my latest trip out to the mountains, I set out with three friends. If we had been backpacking I would have packed a lot lighter, choosing gear that would pack small and be light enough to carry into a backcountry campground. However, on this trip, we were car camping, so we were all able to bring a lot more gear and not have to worry about weight.
All four of us shared the Coleman Prairie Trail Cabin – 8 person – Tent all weekend. We weren’t sure what the weather was going to do and the mountains can often be unpredictable, so having the large interior space was nice in case we would have had to hide from the rain. The tent’s 6’5” height and vertical side walls make for an open feel, while offering the space while offering the space to stand and walk around inside. The Fast Pitch, pre-attached poles and hub allow for a super quick set-up. The Coleman Divide and Twist Lantern was also GREAT at night when we were sitting out or inside the tent playing cards!
My friend and I shared the queen size Coleman SupportRest Elite Pillowtop Double High Airbed with a built-in pump. It is as comfy and as large as my bed at home, which makes sleeping outdoors so nice, especially when we have so many on-the-go activities to keep us busy during the day. Two of these air mattresses could easily fit inside the 8-person tent- with room to spare.
The Coleman 62 QT Wheeled Xtreme Cooler held food for the four of us for the entire three days and was easy to maneuver around the campsite when we had got there. It also acted as extra seating for people who visited our campsite.
The Coleman HyperFlame FyreSargaent camp stove and grill provided easy, stress-free cooking. The stove is lightweight and smaller than most grills I have used in the past, making it easy to transport, as it takes up little space in the back of my vehicle. It’s also simple to use, and we could easily have two stoves tops going at once – for cooking food and boiling water.