OutdoorLads is a group for gay, bisexual and trans men to get together and enjoy outdoor pursuits across the UK. And the outdoors activity group is on the rise, explains Tashi Acton from OutdoorLads.
“I’ve achieved things I told myself I couldn’t do, gained fantastic friends and rediscovered my self-esteem.” This quote, shared by one of OutdoorLads’ 2,000 members, punctuates one of the reasons why it is an LGBT organisation on the rise.
OutdoorLads is a group for gay, bisexual and trans men to get together and enjoy outdoor pursuits across the UK. We encourage men who have a shared love of the outdoors, want to try something new, aim to get fitter or just want to #getoutmore to join us and make new friendships. We are constantly growing our outdoors activity programme with over 1,500 outdoor events a year all over in the UK and further afield. One weekend you could be walking in the North Yorkshire Moors and the next scaling Mount Everest! So there really is an activity for every member to enjoy.
In 2006 a group of men in the North West began OutdoorLads in response to the limited opportunities they had to get involved in outdoor pursuits with other gay men. Our first event was organised on Meet Up and was a camp held at the Lake District’s Great Langdale Campsite. We still visit Great Langdale each February for our Winter Camp and often during the summer months as well; it’s become the spiritual home of OutdoorLads.
Our founding members soon realised the potential of OutdoorLads’ impact and wanted to spread the benefits to other guys across the UK. Subsequently several key people put in a huge amount of work to get the organisation up and running to give it the foundations of what we are today. We’re so pleased to now have over 2,000 members and this number is continuing to grow every year.
OutdoorLads attracts a huge range of people. Men from ages 18 to 80 regularly put their walking boots on in every part of the UK with OutdoorLads. Before joining OutdoorLads some members have never tried any of the activities that we offer, or conversely, they may have had extensive outdoors experience. Experience in outdoor pursuits is not a barrier, and everyone starts somewhere.
Our friendly army of volunteer leaders and office staff are here to support our members. This friendly OutdoorLads family is integral in maintaining our supportive culture, where no one is judged. Without our amazing volunteer leaders we wouldn’t be able to do what we do. Our ability to put on events is down to the motivation of our leaders, and their selfless ability to give back to the group. The number of activities that our volunteer leaders run continues to increase every year. Our range of activities is broad; from walking, climbing, camping, biking, canoeing, scrambling, running and sailing, as well as social events.
For members who are experiencing hard times, we have the OutdoorLads Foundation, which enables people to access our events if financial, mental health or physical challenges are a barrier. For members aged under 30 or who are in receipt of benefits we offer a discount off the price of any events they are attending, which helps to keep our membership base diverse.
We’ve got so much going on and there’s something for everyone. If sailing floats your boat, our upcoming June event ‘The Voyage on board the Prolific ll’ will allow members to spend four days crewing a small vessel. We always have a whole host of walks all over the country like our ‘Dartmoor Weekend’, which allows members to camp out in a real World War One hut!
If you’re interested in finding out more about OutdoorLads, on Saturday 16 February we are holding a ‘Come and Meet OutdoorLads’ event at the Comptons pub in Soho between 1pm and 5pm. Just pop in whenever you can that afternoon. This is the perfect opportunity for men who would like to find out more about what we do to come and have a chat with our friendly leaders and members. We will be on hand to give you any tips about events that you might be interested in trying, and you can join OutdoorLads for free, or book on to one of our events whilst you’re there. Bring a friend, bring your partner, bring a dog (dogs are welcomed in Comptons) – everyone is welcome!