Nature Backs Meet Up:
Shenandoah National Park
In September, fourteen of our reps met up in Shenandoah National Park to explore, create, and make memories together.
You know that feeling when you’re looking out over a valley at dawn? The fog hovering ominously above the trees. Those times when sitting in silence, even if you’re with a group, speak more to the soul than any words ever could? I had the pleasure of speaking with some of our Nature Backs Reps this past week about their trip to Shenandoah National Park, and I have to say, this is the exact feeling I felt in my soul when hearing them describe their trip to me, and I wasn’t even there.
In September, fourteen of our reps met up in Shenandoah National Park to explore, create, and make memories together. I have sat for hours wondering what I could write to truly do justice to the stories these adventurous souls shared with me over the phone, and I’ve finally come to a conclusion. The best way to share a heartwarming story is to tell it through the people that lived it.
The first person I spoke with was Katie, an organic farmer out of Virginia that experienced her first rep meetup since becoming a rep in September of 2019.
Katie has always been someone who thrives on one-on-one conversations, always passing up on the small talk for truly intimate conversation. Being her first rep meet-up, she went into it not really knowing what to expect. Yeah, she had spoken with these people before via facetime and phone calls, but you can only see so much of a person virtually. When she sat around the campfire with thirteen strangers though, it became apparent this was more than your typical meet-and-greet. After a mere day-and-a-half of hiking and hanging out, Katie admitted these people had progressed far beyond the title of mere “acquaintance.” But who better to tell you this than Katie herself.
“People are living out what they’re talking about. They’re showing up, and they’re showing up for each other because they just love each other… I don’t know how else to say it. They’re my Nature Backs family. Then I go to this meet-up and I’m meeting these people and they’re telling me their story and what’s important to them and how they’ve met people that’ve become a huge part of their lives… that’s what’s important to me.. And that’s why I’m a rep. That’s what it’s all about to me.”
After speaking with Katie, I was able to speak with Mary Beth. This was Mary’s fourth rep meet-up, and it only took leaving at 2 a.m. and a fourteen hour drive to make it happen! (The lengths some of these reps go to for adventure I tell you what… Did I mention they were from nine different states?!) Anyways, Mary currently holds the rank of one of our sweetest, yet clumsiest, reps. I was told Mary fell a total of six times throughout the trip, but that couldn’t take away from her positivity even a little bit. Mary has been a part of our fam for awhile, but says this trip really showed her how tight knit the fam really was.
“Knowing we had never met in person, yet they were still there for me every time I fell or anything, that’d be my favorite part of the trip. I just never would have expected to feel so much love from strangers, or people I barely knew.”
Next up, I got to speak with our creator Noah, who before showing up didn’t even know everyone's name! Off the bat, Noah was almost caught by surprise by the lack of cliques amongst the group. Everyone seemed to respect everyone, it was such a cool experience to witness, Noah said.
“It was kind of wild, it felt so much like a community, like the group message we all always talk in, but right in front of my eyes.”
Aaron, who if you aren’t familiar is our local Tik Tok celebrity and rep group phenom, was also in attendance at the meet-up. Aaron is always up for a good time, and said sitting around the campfire really just summed up what the trip was like for everyone; immaculate vibes, good conversation, and good food cooked up by the group… by everyone, for everyone.
“To me it’s just awesome, I would do this every weekend in a heartbeat, if money and time allowed. This community we’ve built is just so strong and inspiring, and I’m really just so happy to be a part of it.”
Thipok is our rep straight out of Kentucky and man, what a cool guy. Thipok bounced around with the idea of being a rep for awhile, but luckily for us decided early last year that he was going to join the fam.
“It was really cool to get to hike around the park with the other reps and get to know them better. Probably my favorite part was that, then getting to go back to the campsite and hang out with everyone and eat and chill. It was just really cool meeting all these new people.”
Tyler and Marrelle were the last two I got to speak with. They’re two of our OG reps from 2019, when the rep program was just starting to come together. They’ve both been to a few meetups, but both agreed it was really cool getting this one planned out and seeing it actually happen.
“It’s hard to describe, I don’t know if I’ll ever see these people again, I mean you hope so, but we all have our own things going on and our own lives. You just have to enjoy the trip and the time you have with them.”
Marrelle also spoke about the culture they have helped create with the rep program. The weather throughout the trip was mostly rainy and overcast, but spirits couldn't have been higher. A lot of time was spent looking for dry wood to get a fire started, gear was drenched, but the show went on, Marrelle said.
Overall, the adventure was full of beautiful drives, hikes, and waterfalls; but everyone I spoke with barely talked about the destination. I didn’t hear a single negative comment the entire time, and that’s pretty awesome considering the rainy weather and a flat tire along the way! This community is so strong, and I could feel the love through the phone these strangers felt for one another.
Lastly, I want to give a massive shout out to Katie, Mary Beth, Noah, Aaron, Thipok, Tyler, and Marrelle. It’s rare to speak on the phone with people you’ve never met before and hear them tell the most beautiful, genuine stories of friendship and adventure. I have met two of these seven reps in-person, but speaking over the phone with them, it felt like I was catching up with a long lost friend. Thank you for your time, your love for people and mother nature, but most importantly, your dedication to inspiring people throughout your communities to take chances and get outside. Without people like you, our company would not be what it is. Much love to you all, until next time.🤙