When January 1 comes around, people tend to make new year resolutions from drinking fewer cups of coffee, to aiming to go to the gym more and taking more walks outdoors.
Yet, how many people actually stick to what they endeavoured to do?
City-dwellers tend to get caught up with their busy everyday life and let their resolutions disappear into thin air as a result.
In particular, getting preoccupied with screens and working life tends to put ‘going outdoors’ at the back of people’s minds.
But London camping community Secret Adventures aims to change that, by making the adventures people would typically have outdoors in nature a reality in the city.
Madoc Threipland is the founder of Secret Adventures, and here is an example of how his itinerary for a group he leads would look like.
He intends to show people that the invaluable experience of immersing the self in the outdoors cannot be sacrificed in the city.
It is a cold winter day, but instead of bundling up in a warm blanket at home, you head towards London Fields Lido, which marks the start point of an outdoor adventure you will be whisked away on.
This location at a Hackney park is an outdoor heated swimming pool, which makes it an obvious landmark for people new to the area.
Your fellow Secret Adventures group members are already there; some are new and some are experienced.
Despite the chill, Madoc prompts you to change into your swimsuit and plunge into the pool to join the other members.
You hesitate at first, but outdoor swimming on a cold night is actually a tame activity by Secret Adventure’s standards.
The community resolved to swim outdoors every night a full moon appears, and you count your blessings that you were not asked to dive into a freezing lake instead.
Madoc allocates slightly over half an hour for the group to splash around in the pool.
Already, this night is shaping out to be different from the typical night you would spend sitting on the sofa watching the daily 8 pm show, feet propped up on the coffee table.
The steam from the heated pool is comforting in the chilly air, and the group takes a few pictures together for keepsake.
Amid all the fun and laughter, you nearly forget that this escapade is happening right in the city.
Instead of a vast meadow that stretches as far as the eye can see, high-rise flats with lit rooms tower over the pool.
After towelling off and getting into dry and warm clothing, Madoc takes out the large campfire bowl and food to cook in the flames.
He has marshmallows, olives, foil-wrapped French cheeses and campfire-cooking chorizo for the team to feast on.
The group basks in the warmth of the amber glow, sharing stories of what each person had encountered just earlier in the day working at their day jobs to more heartfelt memories of their childhood.
There is something hypnotic about the crackling of the flames that just invites people who have only met for the first time to tell stories they would normally save for when they already know someone more intimately.
It might be the toasted marshmallows that melt in your mouth that have this effect — nostalgic of camping trips as part of the scouts troop in grade school.
Against the chilly night, you begin to feel a warmth in the camaraderie that soothes the soul from inside.
The night just keeps getting better, as someone snuck in a bottle of wine for everyone to share around the campfire.
If you’re lucky, you will find yourself in a group with someone who is musically gifted.
Even though the conversations are heartfelt, the musician decides to begin humming a tune and get everyone to sing along.
Under Madoc’s watchful gaze, everyone smiles at each other and cheers to the camaraderie forged.
The group already feels like home.
The night’s activities wrap up, but you find yourself looking forward to the next experience you will get on another “camping” trip.
There was no actual camping out, but the outdoor experience was truly unlike anything you will usually get up to on a regular weekday.
Secret Adventure has many ideas up its sleeves for the perfect introductory experience to getting away in the outdoors, without making the additional effort to book tickets ahead of time, arranging for days off and packing an overnight bag.
Their itineraries might suit those who are looking for a simple experience that is still a marked change from the ordinary dinner-and-wine plan that people are used to.
Besides the swimming and campfire plan that Madoc led, other activities Secret Adventures can organise include night kayaking on the River Thames, rowing on the Regent’s canal or even a skinny dip somewhere in London (of course, they will not just go around announcing this location!).
With a variety of outdoor experiences under their belt, the Secret Adventures community is growing fast, attracting people who want a respite from their 9-to-5.
You may not be able to get the full countryside experience in the heart of London, but this comes pretty close.
For those who are more adventurous, rumour has it that people in the Secret Adventures clan have swum out to a river island and camped further away from the heart of the city beneath the trees. But to ascertain whether these stories are rumours or truth, you will just have to reach out to the organisers to find out for yourself.
While evening walks still retain their universal appeal — there are few things that taking a walk to clear your mind won’t help — these Secret Adventures are aptly named for the day you intend to treat yourself and a friend to something with a little pizzazz to spice up post-work, or even weekend, plans.
Ultimately, the activities that Secret Adventures have in store will assure you, if you made a new year resolution to, that you have been, and still intend to, go outside more.
Heading to London
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