We live in a world today that is more widely connected than at any other time in human existence. Unfortunately, that connection is skewing more toward digital pathways that can be impersonal and devoid of real human connection. So it is no surprise that many men today feel that something is missing from their lives, and that something is a real sense of community that comes through shared experiences and interests. Men crave a depth of connection with their friends in the real world, not just broad and shallow attempts through the screen of our phones.
Camping is an activity that builds community and can be enjoyed as a part of a larger group. It removes the distractions of everyday life and provides the needed space for real connection. When you have the added feature of camping from a truck while crossing over unpaved roads and navigating down off-the-beaten-path trails, you get the activity known as Overlanding. Overlanding is a subset of camping and outdoor activity and lends itself to community building through the shared love of the outdoors and a niche interest in all things accessories, particularly of a technical aspect, that make camping from a truck an enjoyable experience.
Why should you consider overlanding as an outlet for building your community and connecting with like-minded people? Because there are many levels of experienced campers in the group, and all are welcome.
Welcome To The Club
The overlanding community is nothing if not welcoming to completely new members. Their goal is to enjoy the outdoors using their trucks and equipment to make it as enjoyable as possible. As someone new to the experience, you will find that there is no exhausting their support and patience in answering all of your questions about the hobby.
What kind of tires do you need? Should you add a winch to your vehicle? What kind of cooking setup is best?
You need only reach out and ask the community to get your answers. There may be debate about the accuracy of the answers, but you will never be ignored. We can also leverage the online connection to make contacts, find out some of the dos and don’ts of the club, and start to become someone on the inside of the overlanding crew when we aren’t out on the trail, under the stars. You will listen to the tales of others and yearn to make your own stories to share back with them, all while sitting around a campfire and enjoying peace and good cheer.
Cruise Before You Climb
As anyone who enters a new hobby can attest, the urge to completely immerse yourself within the community is strong. In overlanding, that means getting up to speed to mark yourself as a trail veteran and earn your stripes among your fellow campers. With this siren song comes the potential for hubris to take hold, and can cause you to overreach in your pursuit of the perfect setup and gear. You will do this to show that you belong beside your peers and also build your off-road cred. You want to appear capable, after all.
The more experienced overlanders will recognize this hubris and let you make your own mistakes. Like all good mentors, they will allow you to journey down your particular path while guiding you away from any errors that will be too costly or embarrassing to return from. Their goal as grizzled off-road veterans is to encourage you while also avoiding discouraging you from making your own choices. That builds experience and self-reliance for you as an individual but also helps create a camaraderie between you and the rest of the group.
As you settle in as a mid-level enjoyer of the overland lifestyle, you will begin to geek out over simple solutions as much as you do over high-tech and space-aged gear. That’s when you begin to become a resource to others, especially new members searching for and finding a community to connect with.
Been There, Seen That, Told The Tale
Once you ascend to the upper echelon of the overlanding community, you will learn how to relish the specificity of the gear designed for those who choose to camp from their truck or Jeep. You will know that less is often more, and more is often a severe pain in logistics and preparation. Just because you have a truck to bring everything you could want with you, including a mobile shower, doesn’t mean you should pack it all. Your time with others will replace your desire to prove yourself through buying the best and newest accessories, while still allowing you to appreciate and converse with others about the latest and greatest offerings.
You will begin to consider yourself a steward of sorts to the newer members of the community, and you will find joy in helping them learn and move through the same stages of acceptance that you did within the community.
When you feel like you are alone and just want to make a real connection while enjoying the great outdoors, I encourage you to consider overlanding as an activity to build community. You will find people of all types, but people looking for the same thing as you, as well.