Making Friends Outdoors

Doesn’t it sometimes feel like a majority of our life is now driven by technology? Most of our communications with friends and family happen on a screen. Even when we are out for dinner we spend more time communicating with people far away on our phone than we do the people we are eating with (I’m totally guilty of doing this myself.) By forcibly removing technology from your life the outdoors helps you build connections that are actually real. A ‘ digital detox’ every now and again is great for the human soul!

When I was 17, my father and I embarked on a cross country skiing expedition across the Greenland Icecap. (We had been to Greenland before on a sea kayaking expedition and had seen the Greenland Icecap. There was something mesmerizing about the vast icy expanse that had us talking about returning as soon as possible). We spent months training for the expedition which  entailed cross country skiing for a total distance of approx 600 kms, from the west to east coast of Greenland, close to the arctic circle. We would be on the Greenland icecap, the second largest chunk of ice on the planet for up to one month with an ambient temperature of – 20 degrees Celsius, dropping to -40/-45 C with the windchill factor. At 17, I was a typical high school student, my life revolved around academics, friends and of course social media. So, one of the things that worried me the most was that I would be so bored during the evenings- stuck in the middle of nowhere for 3 weeks with no access to the internet or people my age (everyone on the expedition was much older than I was). However, I had the opposite experience.

The days were long, we would spend about 8 hours skiing every day and spend the first part of our evenings setting up camp. We would then all gather in a kitchen tent, melt snow, cook food together, sing songs (Bohemian Rhapsody was one of our favorites) and tell jokes. Though our expedition team of 8 members had people from 5 different countries (Greenland, USA, Belgium, New Zealand and India) we all bonded through our love of outdoors (and Queen, got to love Freddie Mercury for bringing the world together). Our two Inuit guides barely spoke English, but through the 3 weeks we spent with them we realized language is only one form of communication and that not speaking the same language is never a barrier to making a friend.

The Greenland icecap expedition was one of the first expeditions where I experienced the magic of how the outdoors can bond people for life regardless of how old they are, where they’re from or even what language they speak. When you spend 24 hours a day with a group of people and with no communication with the outside world, you are forced to get to know each other. So, whether you want to spend time with old friends or make new ones, the outdoors is one of the best places to do so.

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