Camping is basically an introvert’s paradise. You venture out into nature, away from the exhausting loudness of the world and spend a few days with one person, or perhaps a few people, who you find it relaxing to be around. There are quiet mornings and long hikes, winding forest drives and thoughtful nights staring into the campfire. Here is where we recharge from the daily interactions which drain us.
And yet, there is something that introverts crave almost as much as being alone: real, deep conversation. Whether this is with a significant other, an old friend or a stranger, connecting with another person in a meaningful way gives an introvert joy in a way that small talk never could. As a textbook introvert, I sometimes find myself naturally shying away from interactions with new people that could potentially be draining to my mental energy level.
Before going on our first Hipcamp scouting trip, part of me wanted to just get the landowner introductions over with and get on with our relaxing evening. But I quickly learned that one of the greatest gifts Hipcamp gives is the chance to meet an array of truly unique, special people: your hosts. From ranch owners celebrating their 53rd wedding anniversary to a fire dancing instructor and everything in between, our Hipcamp adventures have enabled us to forge meaningful relationships with landshare hosts all over the west coast. If you’re an introvert like me, or are eager to connect with your hosts, here are a few ways I’ve learned to engage in sincere conversations with your landowner.
1. Ask about the history of the land.
Chances are, they or their family has been in the area for decades and they can probably give you a fascinating history of the culture, environment, and sentimental value of the property. Ask how the area has changed, what it was like to grow up there, what the surrounding crops are. We’ve learned so many interesting stories about the small towns of America this way!
2. Take a tour together.
Some hosts may not assume you want a full tour and we’ve found Hipcamp’s landowners to be very considerate when it comes to giving campers their space – so just ask! We loved getting a tour of the golden wetlands and lush gardens at The Artfarm Barn, and Willow was kind enough to supply us with samples of the flourishing apples, snap peas, and tomatoes. A person’s home is often a look into their personality, and walking through the land together is a great way to connect.
3. Connect with the farm animals.
The quickest way to befriend a person is to befriend their beloved “pets” – which tend to come in all shapes and sizes when it comes to Hipcamp. On our first weeklong Hipcamp trip we met dogs, cats, horses, hens, roosters, goats, baby chicks, and llamas, to name a few, and learning their names and personalities from their owners was definitely a bonding experience. When a farmer tells you it’s “good for them” for you to cuddle with the tiny baby goats, you don’t think twice.
4. Find out their favorite nearby spots.
From private swimming holes to Bigfoot coffee stands, your hosts are able to tell you the best spots to adventure around their land. Bridal Veil Falls glistens right above The Landing campsite, but David was also able to list off half a dozen local waterfall hikes that you wouldn’t find on a map. Enrich your experience by playing like a local!
5. See how you can help.
It’s difficult to fully explain the feeling I had when I found myself quartering apples on the bed of an old blue truck, learning all about Thailand from a new friend chopping next to me. We’d ambled up to the main building at Teal Creek just in time to jump in the back of the truck and join in picking apples from the neighbor’s tree, which then began the process of becoming hard cider. As we cut the apples and chatted about the farm, Evan began pressing the fruit with Don. It was one of those moments where you think to yourself “there’s no where else I’m supposed to be.” If there’s a project happening, see how you can join in!
6. Be ready to say “yes” to new experiences.
Let me put it this way: if we hadn’t said yes to a bonfire and BBQ with our new friends at Artfarm Barn, we never would have known just how much fun blacklight ping pong is. Enough said. Just say yes.
As with any life experience, Hipcamping is what you make it. From one introvert to another, I recommend putting yourself out there just a little bit - I guarantee you’ll be glad you did.