A new movement has recently taken root in the United States, and has grown fast. Instead of spending Black Friday shopping, nature lovers are opting to spend time enjoying the great outdoors.

The #OptOutside campaign, which emphasizes nature and play, was started by outdoor retailer REI last year. Despite the fact that an outdoor retailer (likely, in large part, to increase revenue), started the movement, the point of prioritizing nature and outdoor play over consumerism is an important one. Over five million people pledged to participate in the new tradition this year.


I had the pleasure of leading a hike on Black Friday. Organized through the West Virginia Chapter of the Sierra Club, took us on a two hour adventure during which I shared the historic resources of Coopers Rock State Forest with other hikers.

Well, why wasn’t I shopping?! Why did I chose to #OptOutside? Here are four reasons:

  1. It’s free. State parks and forests throughout West Virginia are free, and so are city parks! The people who accompanied me on by Black Friday hike enjoyed two hours of free entertainment in one of West Virginia’s most magnificent state forests (for more information about Coopers Rock, visit their website).

  2. Declare my values. To me, thanksgiving is about family and spending time together (and food, lots of food). I have so many happy memories of post-thanksgiving walks with family. We explored local parks, strolled around my grandmother’s suburban-Atlanta neighborhood, and hiked the gorgeous Chattahoochee River National Recreation Area. By opting to spend my holiday outside, I picked outdoor adventure instead of consumption.

  3. Find solace. Like many other nature lovers, I have a simple belief that time in the outdoors makes us healthier and happier–as individuals and as a society. We spend so much time in our offices or homes, rushing around to get things done. Sometimes, we just need to breathe fresh air and reflect.

  4. Make new friends. While waiting for our group to gather on Friday morning, I have to admit that I was nervous about meeting new people. I was out of my comfort zone. Would they like me? Was I going to be a good leader? Flash forward a few minutes and I was chatting away with four new friends, who I look forward to seeing on the trail again soon.

I am so glad that I chose to spend Black Friday in the glory of the great outdoors making new friends, declaring my values, and not battling the crowds and lines of Black Friday!

If you’re interested in joining the West Virginia Sierra Club on one of their outings, visit their group page on Meetup.

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