One sweet October morning, we headed out to the natural reserve Paradiset outside Stockholm, together with our dear friends Monika and Louise. Louise is the co-founder of Friendcation, a female community of 6 500 women, created with the purpose of meeting new friends and enjoy new experiences among nature. Friendcation is doing everything from events, workout dates and staycations, to lectures, breakfasts and adventures - for women only.
We became friends with Louise through Instagram, and of course, we were extremely eager to find out more about this great initiative, so we settled down at a little hut, lit a camp-fire, tasted Louise secret recipe of “Pellemusor” (think American pancakes) and then we threw her a bunch of questions.
What have Friendcation been up to so far?
Since our inception 2,5 years ago, we have arranged 11 trips and at least as many events at home. We have another 3 trips planned so far, one that will take place in Åre. Together with 28 women, we’re arranging what we call a “Mountain Retreat 2020”. Good start to the new year, right?
Later on, we have two more trips coming this winter and spring in Sweden, where we’re going to challenge ourselves and throw in a large dose of adrenaline. This is how we enjoy working. Joanna Swica and I usually put together our own dream trips, and then we invite our community to tag along. Our aim is to explore our local environment and all the grains of gold that can be found just a car or train ride away in the Nordics.
Over the years we have met and traveled with around 400 amazing women out of the 6500 who have joined our group on Facebook. Incredible! We grow slowly and confidently with a lot of love, courage, and curiosity.
How does it affect new friendships to spend time in, and meet on a nature adventure?
We started the Friendcation journey as we were curious about trying something new, something that would both challenge us and give us a chance to escape our everyday routines once in a while.
Courage and openness is something that permeates every soul that participates in our events, although the personal reasons for one's involvement may vary. Adventures among nature itself have become a luxury, something we can no longer take for granted. Things that don’t always come easy to us, are things we now appreciate more than ever. Nothing gives us as much zen as the sound of a thundering waterfall, or the taste of a lukewarm coffee from our thermos after a walk through the forest.
When being outdoors, one needs to be fully focused. Paying attention to where you put our feet on the ground, and how to get from point A to point B. Crossing an icy rock wall or heating up a pot for today’s lunch when you’re both tired and hungry - isn’t everyone's favorite cup of tea. That’s why we do it all together. The feeling of teamwork and accomplishment afterward, is so strong and liberating.
In nature, we don’t need to keep up a facade. Things that seem so important otherwise, suddenly become quite irrelevant. I think it’s useful to challenge our minds and expectations now and then - and nature is such a naked and honest field to play in, for whatever one can find. The state of just being, here and now.
“We are not extreme survivors or elite hikers, and we don't have to be. We know that now. We sometimes push ourselves more than other times, but most of all, we’re just happy we took the time to realize that we don't have to go far to experience something completely magical.” - Louise
Do you have some hidden gems in the Nordic countries, you want to share with Astrid Wild's readers? Spontaneously, I think about Lofoten.
Oh, Lofoten. My first natural - and overwhelming - experience that brought me into tears. I have this memory of standing in my (all too big) boots on a road between two fjords. It's in the midst of a blazing sunset. Behind me, I have this high rock wall, so dark and steep I can’t even see the top of it. The water beneath me is crystal clear and a bit further away there’s a small red house balancing on a pier. In my hand, I have a bouquet of wildflowers that I picked at the southernmost tip of the island. My boyfriend is waving his arms in the sunbeams and pointing towards the horizon as if it was even possible to miss that sunset. My cheeks are blushing from a cold breeze and I just stand there smiling with my eyes closed, feeling a couple of tears running down my face.
Lofoten is such a fantastic place, and I have probably thought about going back there every day since that summer, 3 years ago.
And lastly… What is your favorite pick from Astrid Wild's first collection?
Well, I walk through pine and heather in my Avant-Garde Outdoor Pants, but I’m also starting to fall in love with the incredibly nice and comfortable Minna Wool Fleece Jacket in Camel, that I got to borrow during our forest hike. The black is also very nice!
Monika is wearing the Minna Wool Fleece Jacket in white, size S, the Aleksandra Merino Wool Top in Dusty Pink, size S, and the Astrid Avant-Garde Outdoor Pants in Green, size 36.
Louise is wearing the Minna Wool Fleece Jacket in Camel, size L and the Astrid Avant-Garde Outdoor Pants in Green, size 42.
Over and out. We’re so happy we got to spend a whole day with these lovely ladies among the trees. Sharing dialogs and exploring new ways of meeting friends that don’t include dusky bars, late nights or alcohol. We suggest you all head over to Louise's blog and Friendcations channels right away. Maybe it’s time to book your adventure?