Emma and Robert Frisch co-founded Firelight Camps in 2014 in Ithaca, New York. As co-owner, culinary and marketing director, Emma oversees food programming, food product development, merchandise and marketing, while developing new plans for expansion to other properties.
Emma is releasing her first book on April 10 2018 ‘Feast By Firelight: Simple Recipes for Camping Cabins, and the Great Outdoors‘ (Published with Ten Speed Press / Penguin Random House). Books will be available for purchase at The Global Glamping Summit where Emma and Bobby will be presenting.
Q. What drives your passion and enthusiasm for the industry?
What drives my passion and enthusiasm for the industry is undoubtedly the opportunity to transform people’s lives by providing a comfortable outdoor escape. Getting more people outside is at the core of everything we do.
While 40 million Americans went camping last year, 280+ million didn’t (many of which never have). As a modern culture, we’re increasingly disconnected from the natural world, from connecting authentically with each other, and perhaps above all, from connecting with our innermost selves. Firelight Camps, and the glamping industry as a whole, has created an accessible way for people to experience the peaceful and revitalizing effects of being immersed in nature.
At the heart of Firelight are the campfires, where guests themselves glow about reestablishing organic connection in this timeless, primal space. We watch thousands of guests unplug every season, and nearly all report how much happier and grounded they feel.
We’ve also worked really hard to create affordable rates, often less than the amount of gear one would need to buy for 1-2 camping trips. As a result, we’ve seen so many people step (slightly) outside their comfort zones, often at the beckoning of a camp-enthused partner or friend, and sleep in a tent without sacrificing modern creature comforts like a plush bed, hot showers, and full bar service. This is usually all it takes for someone to rekindle their love for the outdoors with unabashed, childlike wonder. Many keep this spark lit when they leave, continuing to spread the light in their micro communities back home. The opportunity to be part of this positive ripple effect drives us every day.
Q. Do you think Glamping can ever be misunderstood? If so, why?
Absolutely! As a former backcountry guide I’m familiar with a whole community of outdoors enthusiasts who think glamping is somewhat ridiculous. Or at least, not “real camping.” But that’s exactly the point. It’s not camping as we’ve come to know it. It’s a complete divergence from pitching lightweight tents on the ground and sleeping on flimsy sleeping pads to buffer against unrelenting tree roots. And don’t get me wrong, I love this kind of minimalist camping.
Yet, glamping affords a level of comfort that for many, is precisely what they need to get them outside in the first place. It’s a unique blend of hospitality and adventure, and ultimately, a gateway to the great outdoors.
I also think that glamping can be misunderstood because many people in the U.S. still aren’t familiar with the concept, whereas in the U.K. and Australia, glamping is well-established and a familiar alternative to lodging and/or camping. However, the fact remains that it’s origins predate us, spanning from nomadic tribes to early pioneers and the Great Camps of past presidents and army generals. Perhaps the most well-established form of glamping is African safari. So in a sense, we are in the midst of a revival that honors an ancient tradition in the outdoor world!