Taking a Breather

A club that fosters community through shared outdoor adventures

  • George McKenzie Jr.
  • Connecting to Nature
  • Feb 04, 2022

In upstate New York, an Outsiders group (above) enjoys a hike at Lake Minnewaska. Outsiders guide Patrick Fields (below) waits to greet a group in New York City.

BACK IN 2016, Jeremy Asgari was a successful event promoter in New York City who wanted to find a new way to be social and active that “wasn’t based on consuming all the time.” So he invited a group of friends to join him for a day of biking. Everyone loved it and wanted to know when the next adventure would be. “I saw a huge demand for people to do something fun and healthy together in the outdoors,” says Asgari. To meet that need, he launched the Outsiders outdoor adventure club.

From the start, the goal was to bring together people from all walks of life, cultures and socioeconomic backgrounds to create a sense of community, what Asgari calls “a chosen family.” Diversity within that family is important to him. People from different backgrounds who share experiences learn to “understand each other better, which makes society a better place,” he says.

A man standing with a coffee outside a cafe

Outsiders adventures are open to anyone 21 and older, and group sizes range from about 15 to 40—small enough that people can get to know each other. “Sometimes people who join us are searching for a circle of friends, a support system, and that can be hard to find,” says Asgari, who sees Outsiders as a way to build friendships and a network of connections.

Sometimes those friendships are forged through tough experiences. During a recent “intense and scary” canyoneering trip, everyone wound up with “bumps and bruises, scrapes and cuts” but bonded over the shared challenge, says Asgari. “It just brought us together.”

From those early days of hikes and bike rides in the New York area, Outsiders now has a chapter in Stockholm, Sweden, and is planning to expand to Chicago, Los Angeles and other cities internationally. Adventures range from day hikes for about $60 to weekend camping trips to overseas adventures such as a weeklong trip to Iceland starting at $2,145. Sponsorship from corporate partners helps keep costs as low as possible.

I know how rewarding Outsiders adventures can be. As a nature photographer based in Brooklyn, I went on my first hike with the group in early 2021 and now join them every chance I get. We’re a community of people who are passionate about the outdoors, and we support each other through good times and challenging times. These days, what could be better than that?

George McKenzie Jr. is a New York–based wildlife and nature photographer.

More from National Wildlife magazine and the National Wildlife Federation:

Nature's Witness: A Fresh Eye »
Creating Safe Spaces »
Putting the "Great" in Outdoors »

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