“What should young people do with their lives today? Many things, obviously. But the most daring thing is to create stable communities in which the terrible disease of loneliness can be cured.” ― Kurt Vonnegut
If you follow me on Instagram, you probably already saw photos I uploaded with hashtag #NatureValleyCampMeet. And in case you’re wondering what that was all about, keep reading!
And if you’re wondering what the heck an Instagram Meet is, check out my post on how I even came across this whole world of Instameets.
A few weeks back, I convinced my boyfriend to join me in camping for two nights with a bunch of random strangers. Insane right? That’s what my bf thought, too. In fact, I RSVP’d to this meet with a +1 not knowing whom I would convince to join me on this adventure. In the end, I think he had as much fun as I did…Maybe too much fun. Haha!
The #NatureValleyCampMeet was sponsored by Nature Valley (@Nature_Valley) and hosted by Instagram’s very own Erica @spinphotoart, Jesse @TheWildTraveller, and Dylan @fursty. We spent two nights at Diablo Lake’s Colonial Creek Campground getting to know each other over campfires, stargazing, hiking, and of course photographing. Nature Valley even treated us to some nice little gifts, as well as some pretty sweet raffle prizes! (Eddie @eddie_pem went home very happy with a brand new GoPro, whaaat???).
It was really nice meeting and making new friends, as well as putting a face to some of the Instagram accounts I follow. I know it may sound crazy to pack bags for two nights to camp with people we have never met, but people are only strangers until we welcome them into our life. And I am glad there are people like Erica, Jesse, and Dylan who work to bring people together, even if it’s just for a weekend and just for the sake of gathering like-minded people in hopes of building lasting friendships.
Being a part of Instagram has really made me understand the importance of continuously building communities…And I’m not talking about virtual communities. It’s great following accounts with amazing feeds and having followers who are inspired by our own feed, but if we do not take the opportunity to meet people in person, all of it almost feels pointless. And I’ve slowly learned this.
And as much as I feel a sort of anxiety when meeting people for the first time, I realize that the more I put myself in such situations, the easier it gets. Hello, introvert alert here. I am sure I’m not the only human who knows the feeling. Our first reaction is to hide in our comfort box to protect ourselves from the outside world. It is never easy putting ourselves in situations that make us feel vulnerable, but in the end, those are the moments that make us feel the most alive. This is how we grow.
My only regret, always, when I meet people for the first time is not overcoming my own human emotions quick enough to allow me the opportunity to really get to know them. But at least I know that when our paths cross again, it’ll be that much easier to spark a conversation right where we left off.
And that is the beauty of Instagram! It lets us build communities beyond the app. All we have to do is have a welcoming heart and be adventurous. And even if you are not an Instagram user, I invite you to also make an effort in building communities. I don’t remember where I read this, but it reflects exactly what I wish we could all practice:
We need to (re)learn how to be more human.
Don’t avoid eye contact.
Don’t hide behind your gadget.
Smile often – both to neighbors and strangers alike.
Ask about peoples’ stories.
Listen. Genuinely listen.
Be generous with your own story.
Live with vulnerability rather than suspicion and cynicism.
Share more meals. Laugh more.
Needless to say, everyone I met at the #NatureValleyCampMeet inspired me in some way or another. And I am very grateful to have taken the chance to come out…
Love and Adventure,
PS: Hope I didn’t misspell any names. I do that a lot. Haha, sorry! Don’t be afraid to let me know. Below are photos from the weekend. I fail at taking portraits of people, and instead always choose to put my camera away and give my undivided attention to my human interactions. I’ll get better at multitasking.
To see more photos from this weekend, look up #NatureValleyCampMeet on Instagram. You can also go support Nature Valley by giving them a like and hashtagging your own adventures with #GetOutThere, their campaign to inspire people to keep on adventuring!
And if you are ever in the Seattle area and would like to make a new friend, let me know! I’d be more than happy to exchange stories over a cup of coffee…or tea…or anything delicious. Cheers! =)
This gorgeous lake sits in the North Cascades National Park in Washington State, about 2.5 hours NE of Seattle. Surrounding lakes include Ross Lake and Gorge Lake, both equally beautiful. There are several different campgrounds near the lake, but on a summer weekend, these will fill up fast! Diablo Lake is completely accessible and is right off Highway 20. And the stars? SURREAL!! I wish I knew how to do night shooting. The Milky Way was unbelievable, and you will probably catch lots of shooting stars on a clear night, just as we did.
Thank you for reading! Until next time…