A story of two generations coming together with their love of the outdoors. We spoke to our Wales group moderators, Carys and Leighann about their friendship created through Outdoor Adventure Girls.
Carys Gwillym, 30 and Leighann Barden, 43 are both moderators for our Wales regional Facebook group. They joined OAG in Summer 2021 but didn’t know each other at the time. They met in person on the morning of Peak District #4 where 70 women attended from all around the UK. They car-shared, having not known each other and only had one phone call before meeting, they soon bonded after a 4-hour car journey.
Leighann said, “With a 13 year age gap between me and Carys, we were concerned that we wouldn’t have anything in common but that turned out to not be the case – we had loads in common, including bonding over Michael Bublee during the journey…It shows how quick you can jel with someone you’ve never met before and especially being from a different generation too.”
With joining a group of women who you’ve never met before, it can be daunting…Carys said, “You can be strangers to begin with but you can easily walk an hour or two and become friends. Everyone within the OAG group gets on so well and there’s always plenty to talk about.”
Often with adult friendships, it’s common that individuals find it hard to meet-up. We asked 354 of our members what they thought about their friendships and why they struggle to meet with friends. It was reported that 16%% of our members said that they struggle to find time to meet with their friends, 25% suggested they don’t have friends with like-minded interests and 28% reported that they don’t feel they have close-friends.
We often find that our members have friends that don’t share common interests with them like outdoor sports so this is why ladies join us for our BIG WEEKENDs and regional meet-ups – to meet like-minded friends.
Leighann used to be in the Forces and is now Paediatric Senior Staff Nurse. She meets lots of people from all walks of life but still found that she was seeking those friendships with like-minded outdoor interests. She joined OAG having seen SophiesSuitcaseTravel’s Tik Tok about the community and instantly knew that we were “her people”. This opened up a whole new world of meeting a great group of women and meant that she wouldn’t need to hike alone anymore.
Leighann said, “It is nerve-racking at the start but the hardest part is getting to a meet-up but once you are there, it’s absolutely fine. Everyone gets on SO WELL!”
The two moderators have since met-up on multiple occasions, walking top of Pen y Van to watch sunrise, watching rugby matches together and have joined lots of OAG regional meet-ups and BIG WEEKENDs where they meet more like-minded women.
We encourage our members to meet-up often and make their own events for others to join. Carys said, “With the meet-ups, you are with a bunch of amazing girls and you can all pull from each other. It can be quite daunting when you want to meet-up because you think you need to run the event. It’s just about logistics really, for example, say where to meet and time and what you need to bring – that’s it. I’d really encourage others to make these events on the Facebook group, it’s given me and Leighann the confidence to put ourselves out there.”
It’s important to note that even if you aren’t the most outgoing person, there’s lots of women who feel exactly the same.
Leighann spoke about coming across as charismatic and confident but opened up to tell us that this isn’t always the case looking in from the outside. Leighann said, “A few years ago, I went through a bad patch and I started getting panic attacks, I couldn’t leave the house. I’m a really outgoing and outdoorsy person and my confidence just disappeared. OAG has given me a whole new perspective. Yes it’s okay to be anxious, yes it’s okay to be worried, but you are with girls who think exactly the same. It’s such a lovely community to be a part of and we are just trying to promote it as much as we can. That feeling you get when you get to the top of a peak is amazing. You have those photographs at the end and can look at them and go “look what I’ve achieved today”.
To find out how to get involved as a member or moderator and join like-minded women from around the UK, visit our Facebook group.