365Outside

Refresh Your Life

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Our Favorite Easy, Versatile and 100% Local Recipe (Or How Embracing the Summer Means Eating Locally)

Junior chows down on a local popsicle and local cucumber, both at once.

Junior chows down on a local popsicle and local cucumber, both at once.

Yesterday as I drove home, I caught a glimpse of Junior in the backseat. In one hand was a popsicle he’d gotten as a treat from a local farm after we’d gone berry picking. It was frozen local cider and raspberries and it was dripping, sticky and bright, down his arm. In his other hand was a half-eaten whole cucumber he’d pulled out of the bag we’d received this week from our farm share. He was alternating between the two. A few licks from his popsicle, a huge juicy bite of cucumber, and repeat.

To me, this snapshot in time perfectly summarizes two things that I love so much:

  1. Summer
  2. Where we live

(And of course, 3. Junior. But you already knew that.)

Summer is the season of freshness. Everything is ripe and juicy. The boys are most often shirtless with the season dripping from their chins as they lap it up. Summer is indulgence and simplicity at the same time. Summer is rich and ready, sizzling and sweet. Summer is here, and it’s ripe for the picking.

Digging for clams with the Captain

Digging for clams with the Captain

And what better place to enjoy summer than where we live. I grew up on Cape Cod, and though its natural beauty is something to behold, it didn’t have the depth of agriculture that we have here, north of Boston. Here, we have hayfields that run for miles lining roads. We have farm upon farm upon farm. Dairy farms, vegetable farms, fruit, meat, you name it. And on the other side, just across the bridge, is America’s oldest fishing port, the docks bustling with lobsters and cod, haddock and scallops. Out our own front door are the clam flats. The beaches stretch for miles, and then miles more at low tide. The water and sand become our playground.

Farm visits aren't just for summer

Farm visits aren’t just for summer

A few years ago, when Junior was ten months old and Little Bear was something between a possibility and a cluster of cells, I wrote a weeklong blog chronicling a different kind of family challenge. We had committed to eating only local foods for a week, even down to the seasoning and cooking oils. Of course we chose coffee as our cheat, but aside from that we challenged ourselves to eat only food produced entirely within 100 miles of our home for seven straight days. We took it to the extreme, drying our own herbs and making our own cheeses and yogurt. I even “made” my own sea salt by harvesting five gallon buckets of ocean water which I boiled down above high heat over the course of 12 hours, scraping the leftover salt crystals into tiny mason jars. Yeah, I was nuts.

Berries from our local farm, Russell Orchards.

Berries from our local farm, Russell Orchards.

But this week, as I gathered our weekly groceries around town, I appreciated how much of that original challenge has stuck with us. We went to one farm to pick berries and bring home a loaf of fresh bread. Then we stopped at another farm for our weekly bag of vegetables and herbs. I stopped at a roadside cooler for farm fresh eggs, and then made one final stop for local bacon, chicken, milk and cheese. It beats the supermarket any day, and I feel good knowing where my food comes from.

Part of the reason why we started the 365Outside Challenge was to reconnect with the world outside our own front door. I wanted my boys to grow up with a deeper understanding of our natural environment and an innate sense of seasonality and natural process. Eating locally is another way to connect and another way to grasp how the world works.

Strawberry picking at Connors Farm

Strawberry picking at Connors Farm

When we went to pick berries on Monday morning, Little Bear wanted strawberries, mostly because he remembered that the last time we’d gone berry picking, we’d gotten strawberries. But this time, we explained, the strawberries were gone. This time raspberries were in season and next will be blueberries. Similarly, the boys love peaches and always ask me to buy some when we’re at the grocery store. But, I explain to them, the peaches we see in the grocery store during the winter aren’t the same as the peaches we get from our local farm stand during the summer. We talk about how far the peaches have to travel during the winter to get to us, and I remind the boys that if we wait until summer, the peaches will taste so much fresher and juicier. (And then, like this year, there is a late season frost to wipe out the local peach crop, which is another discussion altogether.)

Local steamers dunked in butter just may be Little Bear's favorite food, though he still needs a little help getting them to his mouth!

Local steamers dunked in butter just may be Little Bear’s favorite food, though he still needs a little help getting them to his mouth!

Our weeklong local eating challenge was a way to explore just how simply we could live and a way to reflect on our impact on our local environment and economy. It was also the week we found out that I was pregnant with Little Bear, so I suppose you could call it life-changing for sure. At the end of it I wrote a slightly sappy reflection which I blame on pregnancy hormones, but I think it still rings true:

There are a lot of fad diets out there these days.  We hear all about “natural cleanses” and eating “caveman style.”  Everyone wants their body to be a temple, right?  And, to continue the analogy, I guess that there are all different styles of worship.  Some religions require a sort of cleansing of the soul, others value sacrifice, and most honor tradition.  I guess I worship through simplicity and by doing so, incorporate all three aspects to some extent.  We didn’t do this challenge to cleanse our bodies, or to feel as those we have sacrificed convenience and flavor for a greater cause.  We didn’t do this challenge to honor the traditions of settlers who came long before us.  In the end, we did do all of those things, but none of them were the point.  The point was to see how simply we could live and by doing so, maybe affect some longterm changes in our family values and eating habits.  I think the way your family eats says a lot about you.  Now that I’m raising a child, it’s even more important that I think critically about the values we are living on a daily basis.

Have you ever tried to eat local?

Here is a simple recipe that we’ve adapted many times, in many ways, to eat local on a relatively tight budget with simple ingredients:

Local Vegetable Frittata 

  • 1 onion
  • 1 bell pepper
  • 1 bunch swiss chard, with leaves and stems separated.
  • 1 cup feta, or other local cheese as available, grated or crumbled
  • 8 eggs
  • 1/2 cup milk
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • Any local herbs, such as basil, oregano, thyme, etc. to taste
  • 1 tbsp butter
  • 1 large tomato, sliced

Preheat oven to 350. Sauté finely diced onion and bell pepper in 1/2 tbsp butter over medium heat. Add chopped swiss chard stems and cook until onions are translucent. Add coarsely chopped swiss chard leaves and turn off heat, stirring until the leaves are wilted. Remove from pan and place on paper towel to drain any excess liquid. Whisk eggs, milk, salt and herbs together. 

Use remaining butter to grease a 10” cast iron pan. Spread vegetable mixture across the bottom. Distribute cheese evenly. Pour egg mixture gently over. Place tomato slices on top and add additional cheese on top if desired.

Cook in preheated oven for 20-30 minutes, checking frequently. Remove as soon as the center is set.

Serve with side salad or steamed vegetables.

This meal is a staple of our summer diet for a few reasons. First, we can make it from 100% local ingredients that are readily available. Next, it is protein-rich but vegetarian. We aren’t vegetarians, but we try to eat meat-free several times a week as it’s cheaper and more friendly for our environment. Finally, it is delicious, the kids like it, and the leftovers are just as good for breakfast as they are for dinner.

This recipe is also super easy to tweak as needed, or desired. We’ve added bacon, ham, and sausage to this. We’ve added summer squash and zucchini. And, my personal favorite, we’ve added grated potatoes which make this hearty enough to serve as a camping breakfast (which we did!) It’s super versatile, budget-friendly, delicious and local.

We hope you enjoy!  

Helping to grow his own veggies makes him even more excited to eat them!

Helping to grow his own veggies makes him even more excited to eat them!

Top Gear Tips for Traveling With Toddlers

The packing is underway!

The packing is underway!

If you’ve been following us for a while, you might have noticed that when we get away, we really get away. I’m talking no plumbing, no electricity, no neighbor get aways. In January, we went winter cabin camping. For the April full moon and Earth Day, we’re staying in an unplugged cabin at our local Audubon. But we aren’t adverse to the comforts of home. We just don’t often have the means to take extended vacations to far away places with luxurious accommodations. So when the Captain entered a drawing through Outdoor Families Magazine to win a weeklong trip to Baja, Mexico with Thomson Family Adventures, he forgot about it almost immediately. And when he got the email that he had won, he assumed it was spam and archived it. Lucky for us, he revisited it and realized that he may have actually won something. And boy are we glad he did! On Saturday, we fly out for a week of surfing, hiking, horseback riding, and swimming with sea lions. We can’t wait!

Of course that means that this week I am frantically packing, making and reviewing list upon list, and organizing gear for an adventure abroad. Luckily we have traveled enough with the boys that I have some precious go-to travel gear that I can fall back on. Here is some of my favorite gear for adventuring with the tots in tow.

  1. The Baby Bjorn Travel Crib still fits Little Bear (36" tall) with room to spare

    The Baby Bjorn Travel Crib still fits Little Bear (36″ tall) with room to spare

    The Baby Bjorn Travel Crib. After borrowing one of these from a friend every time we traveled for two years, I finally bit the bullet and got our own. It is a-mazing. It is super light and super compact, yet somehow still comfortable and big enough to accommodate my almost 3-year old. All folded up in its handy carrying case, this crib even fits in the overhead bin on most airplanes. We will be setting it up during our six hour layover to create a confined, clean and cozy space for the boys to rest and watch a show or two between flights, and Little Bear will be sleeping in it for the length of our trip as the boutique hotels don’t have cribs available.

  2. See the little blue throne next to the beach chairs? The Potette travels with us near and far!

    See the little blue throne next to the beach chairs? The Potette travels with us near and far!

    The Potette Plus. We are so close to being done with this one, but it’s coming along on one last hurrah before we say our final goodbyes. The Potette Plus is a portable potty that also doubles as a toilet-top potty seat. With its silicone reusable insert, it folds down to about three inches thick. Without the silicone insert, it extends flat to act as child seat for the toilet. We like to keep a potty in the boys’ room at night in case they have an emergency and can’t wake us in time.

  3. Junior modeling the CARES harness last year.

    Junior modeling the CARES harness last year.

    CARES Harness. Little Bear is a squirmy, squirmy little guy and the normal lap belt on an airplane is no match for him. Look the other way and he can slide right out of that thing and be halfway to the exit row before you look back. The CARES Harness is the only five-point child restraint approved for use on an airplane. It slides over the existing belt and seat back to convert the lap belt into the five-point harness that Little Bear is used to on his carseat. He’s comfortable in it and it contains him so that we can all relax.

  4. At 2.5, Little Bear is still comfortable in the Ergo carrier and Mama is comfortable with him onboard too!

    At 2.5, Little Bear is still comfortable in the Ergo carrier and Mama is comfortable with him onboard too!

    Ergo carrier. We will be doing some longer distance hikes in Mexico, and even though Little Bear can usually keep up on our hikes at home now, we are likely to need a carrier on some of the longer ones next week. The Ergo is soft so it packs down to fit easily in our backpacks, yet is still comfortable with an almost-three year old onboard.

  5. Little Bear's "own room" set up in our tent on a fall camping trip.

    Little Bear’s “own room” set up in our tent on a fall camping trip.

    The Sleepaway Baby Traveling Nursery. This is a controversial one. The reviews on Amazon include quotes like “If you actually fear and dread sharing a room with your baby, PLEASE get mental help,” and “As a mother of two I could never imagine putting my babies in a box!” Ha! Have you met my children? When they were babies, it was one thing. We had a cosleeper sidecarred to our bed. They fed on demand throughout the night. They lived in a sling nestled against my chest. But toddlers, they are another beast all together. Little Bear has his own room at home and becomes incredibly distracted by any company when he shares a room during our travels. There have been many days ruined by 3AM wake-ups that begin with a gleeful, “Hi, Mama! Hiiiiiiiiiiii!” when he opens his eyes and sees that we are in the same room. On those days, we rarely get back to sleep. Were he in his own room, he’d simply look around, roll over and fall back to sleep which is exactly what he does when he wakes up in his “box”.  The travel nursery creates a little closet around the crib and Little Bear legitimately likes it. He calls it his “own room.” And the whole thing unzips and packs down into a flat carrying case that actually fits nicely inside the Baby Bjorn Travel Crib case.

Alright, I’d better get back to packing now! What would you add to my list?

Only Five Days Left to Sign Up For the 365Outside Challenge: 2016

To sign up for the 365Outside Challenge and lead the way to a healthier, happier 2016, click here.

Week Three of the 365Outside Challenge: 2016

For us east-coasters, this was obviously a big weather week. New England was more or less spared from the worst of this winter storm but our neighbors to the south are still digging out. North of Boston, we only received about five inches of snow this time around, which if you ask me is just about perfect. It’s enough to look pretty, it’s enough for sledding, and it’s enough to easily shovel and pile out of the way (for now). We are feeling lucky and looking starry-eyed down the tunnel towards the last month of snow before the thaw begins.

January 27, 2015 - the first of four weeks of back-to-back blizzards.

January 27, 2015 – the first of four weeks of back-to-back blizzards.

Well, not so fast. I hate to be a debbie-downer, but I did just look through the dates on my camera roll to confirm that last year’s first truly substantial snowfall for us didn’t come until January 27. That’s this week. And after that, it was 8 feet of snow in a month. It felt almost suffocating. And it’s still feasible that we could have a repeat this year. But I will also point out that last year’s snow deluge followed an exceptionally cold fall. Last winter, our first thin coating of snow fell on November 2nd and temperatures seemed to hover below freezing from then until the procession of blizzards began. This year, we had barefoot beach days well into November and temperatures nearing 70 at Christmas. This year, the cold still seems new and novel so we aren’t complaining. The addition of snow, so far, just means more possibilities. Snow is always exciting at the beginning.

And don’t worry, I’ll be sure to refer back to this post in a month when I’ve had it with the fluffy white stuff.

For now, here’s what our week held.

Break from sledding to kick back with some hot chocolate.

Break from sledding to kick back with some hot chocolate.

 Monday: The holiday meant that we had a chance to sled with friends in a fresh couple inches of powder. We were excited to check out a new sledding hill but the kids were pooped after just half an hour. Luckily we had planned ahead and took a cozy hot chocolate break right on the hill. Afterwards the kids were refreshed and ready to go again. I ended up having to bribe them to leave! Lesson of the day: By taking it slow outside, everyone is able to build stamina without reaching their limit before the fun is done.

The hill behind this bench shielded us completely from the wind and we were able to enjoy a picnic lunch without the bitter windchill.

The hill behind this bench shielded us completely from the wind and we were able to enjoy a picnic lunch without the bitter windchill.

Tuesday: A day for strategy with a high temperature of 10 degrees with windchill. We checked the forecast, knew the wind direction, and chose a local spot that we knew would be sheltered for a picnic lunch. Find a couple local spots and learn which work best in each wind direction. Next time the wind kicks up, put your local knowledge to use and choose someplace that will work to your advantage.

Little Bear, spotting deer at nature class. Can you see them just above the righthand side of his hat?

Little Bear, spotting deer at nature class. Can you see them just above the righthand side of his hat?

Wednesday:  We had a forest meltdown. At the end of Little Bear’s nature class, he wanted to turn right and keep walking when the rest of the class was turning left to go inside and make a bird feeder. He wouldn’t budge and soon there was a full blown tantrum happening in the snow.

The rest of the class moved on and Little Bear finally calmed down when we focused on looking for deer (we saw almost a dozen!) and feeling the sun on our cheeks. Eventually we rejoined class to finish our bird feeder.

The whole episode reminded me of a Japanese tradition that several friends have mentioned in the past. Shinrinyoku, or forest bathing, is the concept of stress reduction and immune boosting through immersion in nature. Proponents suggest that you absorb your surroundings with all five senses (and believe me, there was some snow ingestion happening so we did) and experience an almost meditative calming effect.

Little Bear was definitely tired and probably cold, but taking an extra couple minutes outside allowed him to calm down and finish his class happily.

For more information about forest bathing, see here.

Thursday: I woke and rushed the boys out of the house to spend the day with their Omi. (I love Thursdays!) As I drank my morning coffee, I read a friend’s Facebook post about enjoying her coffee outside and enjoying the quiet. I love little tidbits of inspiration like that, so I took my own coffee outside too, with a cozy blanket and a deck chair.

Later, I took a quiet wander through the woods without the kids. It was still bitterly cold and the wind was still howling, but in this tiny sheltered clearing the sun felt so warm on my face. Another little reminder to soak it up.

Junior with his frozen sun catcher which we hung in front of a window where we could enjoy it every day.

Junior with his frozen sun catcher which we hung in front of a window where we could enjoy it every day.

Friday: In preparation for the weekend’s winter storm, I shared one of our favorite cold weather crafts – frozen sun catchers. You could even make this in the freezer if you live someplace warm. Check out full directions here.

Saturday:  January’s full moon, the Wolf Moon, thusly named because during Native American and early Colonial times its appearance was often accompanied by the howling of hungry wolves who gathered around the villages.

With the Christmas full moon, we started a family tradition of full moon walks. Saturday was cloudy and by nightfall the snow was falling steadily and the wind was picking up again. After dinner and building a roaring fire in our wood stove, the last thing I felt like doing was putting on snow gear and heading out into the storm. Lucky for me, Little Bear would not be dissuaded so out we went.

And it was magical. Full moon walks will definitely be a longtime tradition around here. Even though we couldn’t see the moon, it was fun to be out after dark and the fresh snow made it seem extra special. Little Bear couldn’t remember ever being out in such heavy snow, and he kept joyfully looking up into the sky and pointing, “Look at that storm, Mama!”

A magical night walk during a snow storm for January's full Wolf Moon.

A magical night walk during a snow storm for January’s full Wolf Moon.

Looking forward to the week to come, we are down to our last week for sign ups for the 365Outside Challenge: 2016. If you haven’t signed up yet, don’t be shy! You don’t have to commit to a full 365 (or 366) days; there are options for every comfort level.

This week will also see our family heading out for our first weekend of winter cabin camping. We have never done this before and I’m beyond excited. I can’t wait to share the adventure with you, so stay tuned.

Take a Walk!

In our element on a family walk.

In our element on a family walk.

Looking for some ideas to get outside today? Our favorite and most common outdoor activity is going for a family walk. Where’s your favorite place to walk? The Captain likes woodsy trails, the boys like the beach and I like open views such as the hayfields overlooking our local marsh.

We spend a lot of time outside around our neighborhood, but I find that my kids are at their best when we get away from all their toys and they are surrounded by nature. Do you have a favorite local spot to enjoy nature? Take a walk today and hashtag us with ‪#‎365outside‬ so we can follow along.

I Took the Pledge! . . . . Now What?

We are stoked that you have pledged to go out and play in 2016. On January 1, 2015 we took the same pledge and transformed our lives. We became happier and healthier through doing something that we enjoyed doing anyway. But the hardest part was getting started. If you are looking for advice to convince your kids and/or significant others to play along, check out our top tips for getting out the door (aka bribes and more bribes) or if you have more of a logical thinker on your hands, check out the documented health benefits of getting outside more.

Sometimes the most important part is just being here.

Sometimes the most important part is just being here.

If you’re just here for some inspiration, read on.

For the month of January, we will be highlighting one outdoor activity per day to fuel your fire as you commit to the outdoor lifestyle in 2016. 

New Year’s Day is a day to ease into your new beginning. Many of us were up late. Many of us have overindulged for the holidays. Many of us are starting new things this week – be it exercise routines, diets, unplugging, or (ahem) getting outside more.

Today, ease into 2016 the way you ease into a piping warm hot spring. Start with just your toes. Get used to it a little. Slowly lower the rest of yourself in and then just lean back and soak it up. Take a deep breath. Relax, you’re here now. Sometimes the most important thing is just being here.

There are plenty of big adventures to be had outside, but sometimes we go out and do absolutely nothing. And that's fine to. There's value in just being here.

There are plenty of big adventures to be had outside, but sometimes we go out and do absolutely nothing. And that’s fine to. There’s value in just being here.

Getting outside can be just as simple. The most common question I get is, what should I do out there? And for today, my answer is absolutely nothing. Just soak it up. Just be there.

Today, ease into 2016 by savoring a quiet moment outside. 

It could be in a lawn chair in your backyard. It could be perched on a perfectly flat rock at the top of your favorite hike. It could be huddled at a snow-covered picnic table somewhere you’ve never been before. Wherever you find yourself today, ease into it. Sit down outside and look around you. Take the moment to listen. Think about everything the new year symbolizes. Hear the wind, or the birds, or the water or the faraway voices. Take that deep breath. Soak it up.

Relax, you’re here now. 

2016 is the start of something great. Welcome to a happier, healthier you. Welcome to 365Outside. Refresh your life.

New Years Day 2016. Soaking it up.

New Years Day 2016. Soaking it up.

Happy New Year from 365Outside

The end of the year is here. It’s time to reflect on what we’ve accomplished, what we’ve struggled with, and where we are headed in 2016. It’s a time to both remember and anticipate, to revel and regret, to quietly ponder and boisterously celebrate.

Junior, during a rare moment of reflection.

Junior, during a rare moment of reflection.

For parents, and maybe just adults in general, the passage of time is bittersweet. As a child, I remember always looking forward to what was ahead. I remember wishing myself older and bigger and faster. But as an adult, especially as an adult with young children, this time of year is the time I wish it would all slow down. Looking back on pictures from 2015, I see the boys as toddlers in last winter’s snow. I see them on unsteady feet, in snowbanks much taller than them, tiny boots and mittens, little cheeks lost in the folds of their oversized hats and coats. And then today, in our first snowfall of the new winter, I see Junior in clothes suddenly too small. He’s grown two sizes since the last time he stomped in a slushy puddle. His clothes from last winter now belong to Little Bear.

Sailors three.

Sailors three.

My reflections of course, aren’t just on physical growth. We’ve also accomplished so much this year. The boys have become caring brothers and friends, they have mastered new physical skills, they have learned to be naturalists, conservationists and advocates. And it’s not just them. It feels wrong to say about myself, particularly as a female in a society that teaches us to be always humble, but I have accomplished so much too. I am proud of us; I am proud of myself. We are moving towards where we want to be. We are taking real steps towards concrete goals. We are happier and healthier than we were at this time last year. We are looking forward to so much. We have direction. We have inspiration. It’s not every year that I can say that.

So, about those accomplishments, regrets and thoughts for 2016.

Let’s get started.

Accomplishments:

January 1, 2015: 365Outside was born. We took our first winter hike as a family to celebrate the start of something great.

Record snowfall in 2015.

Record snowfall in 2015.

February 2015: We conquered the “worst winter in history” to make it our best winter ever. Our region received a record-breaking series of blizzards. In one month, 8 feet of snow fell, but we continued to get outside each day to enjoy it.

July 6, 2015: Junior officially learned to swim.

August 23, 2015: Mama launched the 365Outside website.

September 4, 2015: Junior rode a two-wheeler (no training wheels!) for the first time.

September 18-20, 2015: We spent 48 hours straight outside, without electricity or plumbing, camping on an island off Cape Cod. We vowed to do more camping in 2016.

October 7, 2015: Little Bear mastered gliding down our hill on his balance bike.

December 31, 2015: We finished a full year of outdoor play!

Struggles:

Stuck at JFK airport for 10 hours. THE WORST.

Stuck at JFK airport for 10 hours. THE WORST.

February 17, 2015: We met a roadblock. After spending 5 hours waiting for a delayed flight out of Boston, we were stuck at JFK airport for 10 hours trying to fly standby. We were inside airports and planes from 5AM to 8PM. We still didn’t make it to Florida, and the only outside time we had was a 10-minute wait for the hotel shuttle. The boys made the most of it, jumping off the planters and generally gleefully inhaling fresh air at last, but we still felt defeated.

September 16, 2015: Our most epic meltdown of the whole year ended with me carrying Junior out of the YMCA met by sympathetic, sorry smiles from the other moms. We drove straight to our favorite walking spot to catch our breath.

November-December 2015: The Captain’s tugboat was hard at work, with him spending about 3 weeks away each month. We missed him but kept him updated on our adventures by phone and Facetime.

Where We Are Headed in 2016:

We have pledged to spend all 366 days outside in 2016.

We are actively boat-shopping so that we can someday reacquaint ourselves and introduce our boys to life afloat.

We are committed to camping more, hiking more, and adventuring more in 2016.

We will continue to grow and nurture the 365Outside Challenge, hoping to reach and engage more people to live healthier and happier lives through outdoor play 365 days a year.

Looking forward to 2016.

Looking forward to 2016.

Where are you headed in 2016? Wherever it is and whoever you’re with, we hope you’re met with the mindset to enjoy the sunshine, rain and snow that 2016 has in store for you. 

Don’t forget, there is still time to sign up for the 365Outside Challenge: 2016. Sign ups are live through January 31, 2016. Join us in our journey towards a happier, healthier you.

From Ours to Yours

xmas

Whatever you celebrate and wherever you are, we hope you are able to enjoy a beautiful day with your family today. We will be venturing out for a night walk by moonlight to enjoy the full moon. Will you join us in celebrating the wonder the nature?

Join Us as We Support REI and #OptOutside

optoutsideToday, popular outdoor gear store REI has closed its doors and paid its employees to get outside. It’s also urging consumers to spend the day outside and no, camping out on the sidewalk in front of Best Buy all night doesn’t count.  It’s a smart business move that’s gained a lot of press over the past few months. Their website is still taking orders today, but a note reminds visitors that orders won’t be processed until tomorrow since, really, no one is there. I’m guessing REI didn’t have a huge Black Friday following to start with, and any visitors they’ve lost today have probably been gained back two-fold by all the press surrounding this bold move.

To me, it’s the symbolism of #OptOutside that’s most important. More and more Americans are being made aware of an epidemic. We are stuck inside. We are comfortable inside; we are too comfortable inside. The Nature Conservancy reports that only 10% of American kids report spending time outdoors every day with 80% of kids saying it was uncomfortable to spend time outside. Similarly, the National Wildlife Federation reports that the average American kid spends as little as 30 minutes engaged in unstructured play outdoors, compared to 7 hours in front of an electronic screen. That’s not a typo – 7 HOURS. It’s no wonder that our health as a nation is plummeting. We are more out of shape and more stressed out than ever before.

So the real victory in #OptOutside isn’t that so far 1.1 million people have pledged to spend the day outside. It’s that millions more are being made aware of an issue that is plaguing our country. My request to fellow #365Outsiders today is to not just get outside, but bring someone with you who might not otherwise go. It’s one thing to opt outside on your own. It’s another to spread the love.

Happy Thanksgiving!

Thankgiving2

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