Whether it’s a climbing trip in the southeast or surfing somewhere in Central America, I love going on adventures. One thing I’ve learned is that who you’re with will always effect your overall experience. That’s why I’m always careful when it comes to choosing my adventure buddy for different trips.
This past surf trip really got me thinking about what makes a great adventure buddy (aside from basic skills that are necessary to where you’re going and what you’ll be doing). It all started when we met this other group of guys staying at the same place as us. They were good surfers, respectful in and out of the water, and super goofy around each other.
Sounds fine so far, right?
About halfway through the trip I was bodysurfing one evening and when I came in a few guys from the other group were still out surfing and a couple of them were on the beach just hanging out. I was chatting with my dad and the most sociable guy from their group came over and started chatting with us. It was his second to last day there and he didn’t want to leave (c’mon who doesn’t want to leave Costa Rica?). My dad and I were asking all the questions and within five minutes I knew he was going to Pennsylvania for a business trip the day after he got back to turn around the next day and fly back home. Once he got back home he was taking his kids and his “lady” to Disneyland for his son’s birthday and then surfing the rest of the week.
After he walked away I asked my dad if the guy we had just got done speaking with, or any of the guys in his group, had asked him a single question about himself: like what my he does for a living, likes to do besides surf, if he’s married, has any other kids besides my brother and me. You know, basic “surface level” questions. My dad said he hadn’t been asked one question about himself, they didn’t even have to ask his name since the introduction out in the lineup, days earlier, went something like “Hi, I’m Brian. What’s your name?” I asked that because I hadn’t been asked any “surface level” questions about myself either and I was honestly getting sick of hearing about how great of surfers they are (debatable), where they surf in So. Cal., where they’ve surfed, their jobs, what they have, etc. the conversation was always one sided and I honestly gained nothing from those conversations.
This isn’t meant to be a bash fest or pointing fingers at anyone, just a simple example. Think about who you’d want to potentially be trapped in a tent with for hours during a downpour of rain. I’m guessing you’re thinking of a really good friend of yours since you two know each other so well from two-way conversations that occurred at the bar, the climbing gym, during a run, etc. That relationship was able to grow because it was a two-way street where each of you’ve most likely gained something from the other through conversation.
All we as humans really want in life is to be heard and to be known. There’s nothing wrong with wanting to be heard or known, but it can hurt a relationship with our adventure buddy when we’re not willing to listen and know that person.
How do you choose the best adventure buddy, and more importantly, how do you be the best adventure buddy?
Find someone that’s willing to ask questions, then shut up and intentionally listen. Then find do the same.