10 Things We Learned from the Camping Startup Everyone Is Talking About
Hipcamp founder Alyssa Ravasio loves the internet as much as she loves nature. Lucky for us, she’s found a way to marry the two. Hipcamp taps into the crowdsourcing powers of the web to curate a lengthy list of bookable US campsites — both private and public — and thereby makes camping a much, much more accessible pastime.
Along with building a thriving company and loyal community through their #cabinporn-filled Instagram, Hipcamp has encouraged tons of millennials to rediscover the great outdoors. “Our overall mission is to get more people outside and, more specifically, to inspire the next generation of people who are passionate about exploring AND protecting our lands,” Alyssa says. Judging by the enthusiasm of its users, Alyssa is seeing results.
To further inspire folks to get outside, Hipcamp is partnering with Eddie Bauer to offer eight Hipcampouts this summer. Each 50-person weekend is set with a theme — from sustainable farming practices to arts and crafts outdoors — to create a camping trip that cultivates learning and human connection. Fellow B+C staffer Anita and I were fortunate enough to snag an invite to the Arts and Craftsmanship Hipcampout at Jug Handle Creek Farm in beautiful Caspar, California. It’s safe to say we had one of the best weekends of our young lives. Scroll on to read more about our valuable takeaways from the blissy weekend.
1. You don’t have to camp the same way your parents did
Sure, millennial campers value similar themes of escaping, living simply and appreciating the great outdoors, but Hipcamp knows that we approach camping in a different way than our parents. Today’s camping movement is focused on community and nature photography aswell as living minimally. Documentation of the trip online — via Instagram, VSCO and personal blogs — is our own way of taking in the scenery. And arguably, the social media element of the movement is what keeps camping a popular activity.
Psst: If you ask us, all tents should be stargazing-friendly like this one. It’s safe to say we were smitten with this sheer and *super* photogenic Eddie Bauer tent :)
2. Unplugging — even for 36 hours — can be rejuvenating
As two city gals with demanding jobs and a few too many extracurriculars, Hipcampout was a big ol’ sigh of relief. For 36 hours, we happily traded in tech at our fingertips for the earth under our toes. The trip gave us a chance to slow down and single-task. It was a welcome change from our urban pace.
3. Camping fosters authentic interpersonal connection
This one’s an old lesson that we millennials are constantly re-learning: It feels good to get to know people in person. Having a good ol’ conversation around a picnic table or a campfire is just better. Period. The weekend’s agenda fostered community and human connection with workshops, fireside chats and communal dinners.
4. Being outdoors inspires you to fill your day differently
Wake up, make coffee, eat breakfast, make something with your hands. That’s what our mornings consisted of at Hipcampout. No email-checking, phone-scrolling or any of the other dozens of time-fillers we’ve become accustomed to in city life. TBH, we didn’t realize how much peace of mind we sacrifice daily until we shed the multi-tasking habits for a few days. We HIGHLY recommend it!
5. Learning a skill together is an easy way to bond
We couldn’t help the smiles from spreading across our faces as we spent the afternoon carving alongside Tonu Eagleton — a Polynesian master wood carver, environmental artist and educator — and shibori dyeing with Yoshiko Wada, the President of the World Shibori Network and the founder of Slow Fiber Studios in Berkeley, CA. At these workshops, we created tactile art with our hands and conversed with our tent neighbors. Let us tell you, collectively carving a redwood totem pole with 50 strangers is one way to make new friends :)
6. All meals taste better when served family style… in enamelware
There’s nothing like eating delicious, bottomless meals together — paired with Underwood canned wine — to bond a group of people together. Alright, the family-style aspect of the meals shouldn’t receive ALL the praise: We have to give credit to Luke’s Local for the unbelievable meals we devoured at Jug Handle. The menu included fresh stone fruits, braised greens, slow-cooked meats and even grilled abalone. We ate like kings.
7. The best group events have a structured schedule full of optional activities
Here was the weekend’s schedule: Coffee, breakfast, workshop, lunch, workshop, dinner, beach bonfire concert. Ample time was provided for each occasion and ALL were optional. The agenda provided enough structure to facilitate group bonding while also providing the choice to own our time, giving us meaningful yet individualistic experiences.
8. Want to add instant magic to a live concert? Host it on a beach at sunset
Yep. Saturday night concluded at dusk on the beach with a live concert and a bonfire. Hipcamp hosted The Farallons, a band with ethereal, dreamy tunes that kinda put us into a blissful trance. That, plus the giant bonfire, s’mores, Fort Point libations and a fellow camper who brought a telescope (and helped us find Saturn!) made this evening one for the books.
9. Wilderness can inspire major creativity
Hipcampout attracted folks from all walks of life — from a young couple camping in every US national park in under a year to an LA helicopter pilot-slash-aspiring actor to folks like Anita and me working in the Bay Area startup world. Sure, maybe it was the utopian setting and the Stumptown Cold Brew-induced glee, but each person we met seemed creatively fulfilled and really happy. Since the theme for this weekend was Arts and Crafts, we were eager to learn about their journey with creativity.
“At the risk of sounding lame: Wilderness inspires. In terms of photography, I love the challenge of trying to capture a beautiful moment outside with just one frame. I don’t get that urge in urban environments or indoors.” — Madison Kotack, Hipcamp Field Scout Manager
“[Creativity means] letting loose and digging deep. Being in the outdoors often gives you a second to pause and reflect. Sometimes, all you need is a little space to get creative juices flowing.” — Julie Kukral, Hipcamp Marketing Intern
10. Success and happiness come in many forms
When interviewing fellow campers about their relationship with creativity and the outdoors, we were particularly humbled by Hipcamp Photographer Ezekiel Gonzalez’s story.
He says: “You only have what you have now.” A reflection on being present, cultivating relationships and honoring your art.
After feeling an indescribable discomfort from being attached to so many material things, our new friend downsized everything he owned to one box and chose to live out of a van for a year. By shedding the excess, he found that his mind was considerably less cluttered and his love for the outdoors grew. What struck him the most was that his relationships with people felt deeper and his creativity was reignited. His knack for visual storytelling helped him find a community and eventually led him to Hipcamp.
BONUS: We got the best swag bag ever!
Major kudos to Eddie Bauer for the A+ swag bag. Receiving this guy upon arrival felt like Christmas.
At the end of the weekend, we all swapped contact info. It was just like the old days at summer camp, only instead of phone numbers and mailing addresses, we shared Instagram handles, occupations and emails. We left Jug Handle Creek Farm heady, satisfied and just a tiny bit more optimistic about humankind in the digital age. Cheers to Hipcamp and finding yourself outside.
This collectively-carved totem pole is now firmly planted and lives on the Jug Handle farm.
Scroll on for more photos from the weekend!
What’s your favorite thing about camping? What do you think of Hipcamp? Share with us on Instagram at @BritandCo using the hashtags #bcweekender and #FindYourselfOutside.
Author: Maddie Bachelder + Anita Yung
Photography: Anita Yung + Nic Castellanos