This year, a new REI store popped up in the area where I grew up. Being home visiting my family, we naturally had to all pile into my dads Sequoia and see what this new store location had to offer. Together, we walked around testing out and dreaming of owning every piece of gear. Now let me tell you, my shopping attention span ranges from about 10 minutes to around 20 minutes - depending on the store. I'll look at a few things, decide they're out of my price range and then fall behind my husband, Joel, as he looks (at every item in the store).
As I mindlessly followed Joel back and forth through REI, I looked around and noticed how much the outdoor industry has grown. The store was crowded with loads of folks who span across all walks of life. You could barley peruse down an aisle without being in someones way.
I started thinking about how organizations like Backcountry.com , REI, the Outbound, and countless Instagram accounts are proof that the Outdoors is "trending" -all great things, but the amount of people flocking to them, is it great as well?
Of course my answer is inevitably "yes". One of my main hopes in blogging is to encourage people to get out and adventure. But, in this buzzing REI store I stepped back to realize the popularity of The Outdoor Industry is a two edged sword. Are our favorite spots still remote wonders or are they becoming tourist attractions ? What are the dangers we are risking as we commercialize and popularize the outdoors?
The winter on the East Coast is one of my favorite times to visit the beach. Of course it's not at its prime swimming wise- but it's empty. An area that is almost abused for its "place" seems to recover in the winter as it returns to simply being itself - nature . The wildlife flourishes, the water seems cleaner, and you notice a beauty that had somewhat been covered up during the Summer season. In the summer, the beach "trends". People flood to it. It's fun to join friends, float in the sea, and businesses benefit off the crowds. But the raw beauty of its natural place fades behind the tanned skinned masses, boggie boards and umbrellas. And, most unfortunate of all, we see the harsh reminder of our human talent to leave our mark. With more people comes more trash in the water, junk left in the sand, and breaks in the patterns of nature. This is exactly the risk we take as the Outdoor Industry flourishes.
It's like surfing. We want to rent surfboards, book surf lesson and share the stoke. But a over crowded line up at our favorite spot can ruin our day. We want to tell folks about a beautiful new campsite, but we are nervous to see it suffer from camper's trash. Knowing the risk that comes as a side to our order of more folks getting outdoors, how then can we appropriately balance the pros and cons?
As Outdoor Adventure trends, we must all do our part in keeping our natural playground beautiful. Anyone who steps out to adventure in the wild should also be an advocate of the wild. [And yes! That includes lounging in your beach chair] Here is my promise to better my impact; as we share our journeys and travel guides I want to focus more on promoting ways to have a positive impact on the places you explore. Come along with us and lets preserve the beauty we hold so dear.