Upscale Outdoors

a glamping expert explains the appeal

You don’t have to love the portmanteau (a blend of “glamorous” and “camping”) to love the notion behind “glamping”—that is, finding a way to enjoy the outdoors with a little more comfort and style than the typical pup tent and pit toilet.

While the concept had already somewhat peaked in its home base of the UK by the time 2016 rolled around, it was just starting to gain momentum here in the States when Amy Gillespie decided to get in the game with the Campfire Experience. Founded in the Midwest but recently relocated to Southern California, the company focuses on designing upscale camping experiences for weddings, parties, corporate events, or even just groups of friends or family members looking to reconnect with nature and each other—but maybe with a few more of the niceties and amenities of civilization.

“We’re seeing more and more people looking to experience and explore nature as an antidote to unplug from our many modern distractions,” Gillespie says. “Millennials, our primary audience, remember camping from their youth, and glamping allows them to revisit those memories and make new ones without a lot of hassle. With glamping, the stress of planning, preparing, and purchasing is off of their shoulders, and the simple joy of hiking, reading in a hammock, or laughing by a fire becomes much easier to attain. They plan their days, they make their fires, and they make their meals, but at night we give them a beautiful and comfortable place to rest their heads.”

Gillespie says a good glamping adventure can unfold in almost any location, from a forest or desert to wine country or the grounds of a music festival—or even a simple backyard. But putting the “glam” in the experience demands a few essentials, including camping staples like headlamps, lanterns, and mosquito repellent, of course, but also heightened necessities such as dry shampoo, face and body wipes, maybe some Yeti glasses for adult beverages, a classic Pendleton blanket, and some solid camp stools.

While the Campfire Experience supplies its clients with all of these amenities and more—plus Bell Tents outfitted with actual queen beds on frames with unique and trendy furnishings—Gillespie believes a DIY glamping trip can take just about any form. At the end of the day, what one takes away from the experience is more important than what he or she brings to it.

“For some, glamping can run the gamut from staying in a lodge in
nature to tent camping with a disco ball and a rose,” she says. “But whether it’s a family glamping weekend, a friends’ trip or even a ‘staycation’ in the backyard, these are milestones in peoples’ lives. And for the ones that we help plan, we couldn’t be happier to be a part of them.”

Photo Courtesy Campfire Experience