10 Ways to Celebrate While in the Backcountry

By Sarah Buer

Jun 30, 2016

Just because you're camping doesn't mean that you can't celebrate any occasion with a little creative and a healthy dollop of fun!

Here are a few ideas for ways to make any celebration perfect in the backcountry.

1. Decorate!

What’s a party without decorations? Set the celebration mood with do-it-yourself decor from things you can gather around camp—check out what this NOLS group did for Halloween!

Decorating at the beach Photo by Alisha Bube.

2. Send invitations

Put those extra pages in your expedition journal to good use and pass downtime by making personalized invitations for your campmates! Make them feel special and give them something fun to take home from their course to remember the party by—it’s a win-win.

3. Wear costumes

Climbing Costumes Photo by Cat Coe.

Get in gear (literally) with costumes! Make it interesting with a costume contest. The winner gets to choose what to have for breakfast the next day!

4. Play games

Rock-paper-scissors Game Photo by Tracy Baynes. 

You’re never too old for fun and games! Create a scavenger hunt or customize the details of your favorite camping games to match the holiday, birthday, or event you’re celebrating!

5. Make a special dinner

Let the guest of honor choose their favorite backcountry dinner or set up a make-your-own pizza station for a party to remember! Instant potatoes and turkey gravy taste just as good in the backcountry for Thanksgiving, after all.

6. Bake a cake

Cake for celebrating Photo by Julie Polhemus.

Is a celebration really a celebration without cake? Pick your favorite NOLS dessert recipe and frost it to match the theme of your party! (Don’t forget the candles if it’s someone’s birthday!)

7. Tell campfire stories

When it’s time to set up the campfire for the night, sit around with your fellow NOLSies and share your favorite stories from past birthdays, holidays, and more, because who wouldn’t love to hear about the time your mom made you dress like a yellow ducky for Halloween?

8. Light sparklers

Nighttime glow writing NOLS Photo by Cody Brundidge.

The kid in all of us loves a good sparkler. Perfect for the 4th of July in place of fireworks, just be sure there isn’t any fire danger in the place you’ve set up camp!

9. Stargaze

Stargazing from the tent Photo by Tony Lu.

One thing that stays the same regardless of the holiday is how gorgeous those night skies are in the wilderness. Admire the stars and make up your own constellations with campmates to fit in with the reason for your celebration.

10. Enjoy the people you’re with! 

Giggling in the outdoors Photo courtesy of Alex Chang - Cornell Leadership Expedition.

Most importantly, enjoy the people you get to celebrate with! It’s a pretty special occasion when you get to spend time with great people in the backcountry. Document your celebration with lots of photos, memories, and enjoying your time together.

Want the chance to celebrate in the backcountry? Check out our selection of courses to see which adventure might be best for you!


Written By

Sarah Buer

Sarah is a Wyoming native, Wilderness First Responder graduate, and former marketing coordinator for NOLS Wilderness Medicine. When she’s offline she enjoys running, singing and playing guitar, and playing in the mountains

Up Next

Educator Expedition: A Day in the Waddington Range

We arrived in Bluff Lake, British Columbia at 1:30AM from various places: Roger and I driving 30 hours from Wyoming, Jeremy flying in from California and Dane just finishing up class in Vancouver. We had been talking about it for a while now, applied for the funding from the Instructor Development Fund, but still it had just been this idea: a ski expedition to the Waddington Range in British Columbia, home to some very remote, high peaks and endless miles of glaciers with real hazards.

Read More