We all love the games we play outside weather its high up in the mountains or deep in the woods we love what we do. At the same time most of us don’t want to do things alone all the time. We have all found new friends in our chosen sport that speak the same lingo, understand the passion that guides you. However you still have a lot in common with your old friends and still want to see them, so at some point your going to convince them to come out climbing, or disc golfing with you so here are a few pointers that will help make the outing more fun for you and for them.
Choose an appropriate level outing: When bringing new people out make sure to bring them to a place that will be accommodating to the new skill set they are going to be starting to develop. I remember earlier this year I was taking my friend out on one of his first outdoor climbing trips. The problem was it had rained all day Friday where we went down to and a lot of the routes were still seeping wet. This led us with very limited options for where we could go. In the end we ended up at a section of dry wall that all that was available was fairly technical harder climbing routes, which made for a rough outing for our new climber, and did not yield the most enjoyable experience for him and made me felt bad bringing him out to where we were.
Similarly if you are bringing out new disc golfers realize some of the limitations in the skill set they have. Ideal find short open courses where it will be easy to track discs, navigate, and have an understanding of what the game is like to play. It is easy to write just choose the right place but choosing the appropriate challenge for people is one of the hardest parts. If you choose to easy they will think its boring. Choose to hard and they can easily be overwhelmed and turned off to the possibility of ever coming back.
Keep it Simple: While often its the bigger objectives that capture our imagination we should temper expectations bringing new people along. Your first time climbing is not going to be El Cap and your first disc golf experience is not going to be a four round two day tournament. Your first time should be something simple either a quick 9 hole round with the option to continue, or a half day of top rope climbing. The goal here is first not to overwhelm them as we previously discussed, and to show them the accessibility of the sport so they can come back on their own or see what they will need to do to be able to become a full participant.
Vocabulary: All of our sports have their own lingo whether its a Hyzerflip-forehand, or kneebar-to-a thumbs up hands jam, and those can be very helpful to the seasoned veteran who understands and can execute it. However most people outside of the worlds we play in will have any idea what that means. Make sure to keep your sport related jargon to a minimum. Teach them some of the language and what it means but keep most of the conversation and communication to a way they will be able to understand.
Preparation: Odds are unless you have furnished a full packing list several days a head of time your friend you are bringing along will not know what to bring. Even if you did furnish a full comprehensive list odds are they either did not have everything on the list, forgot something or decided they wouldn’t need it anyway. In order to help make the experience the most enjoyable for other people I find it easiest to just prepare for them and have stuff ready.
I have taken many college students on their first backpacking and climbing trips, and I always plan to pack a few extra layers of clothing, snacks, water, and hats just to help make sure people are comfortable. So similarly even if its just a quick round of disc golf or an afternoon at the crag think what they may want midway through that they aren’t thinking about now, normally its snacks and water, sugar tends to make lots of things more enjoyable.
Advice: Giving advice is a really touchy subject. Some people can easily feel belittled and shutdown by too much advice. I’ve been really bad at giving unsolicited advice to new people and some crave it they want to be told and walked through the whole process every move how to throw. I’ve also gotten a lot of dirty looks. I’ve found that if they are completely new give them a quick run down of a few basics to frame the outing and then late ask if they want some help or pointers. Unsolicited advice can ruin the day and take away from some of the challenge they are looking for.
Fun and Memorable: It seems obvious but its truly the most important thing. Find ways to make it a fun unique memorable experience. Build them up. Celebrate the the joys of the days. Find ways to make it memorable, laugh take pictures, commemorate the event with a special dinner. If you can build positive memories around the sport you help create a foundation to keep your friends coming out with you.
As someone who has taken a lot of people out climbing, backpacking, disc golfing and to ultimate for their first time, I’ve made all the mistakes I’ve detailed. The biggest thing to remember is your role. Which is to help curate an enjoyable experience for them, something they can learn from and want to come back. Have fun, teach, make memories and grow the sport.