We’re going to state the obvious here: of all the things to celebrate on Thanksgiving, the first thing on most people’s list is family and friends.
Thanksgiving is one of those increasingly-rare instances in our busy lives when we make time to gather in one place, share good food, and reconnect with those who mean the most to us.
At least, that’s what it should mean.
In reality, Thanksgiving has transformed into a celebration of a different kind — a celebration of distraction. Rather than focusing on the joys of family and friends, for many the holiday season has become a pursuit of material satisfaction and finding that “one perfect thing” that never seems to actually exist.
As a result of this increasing demand, stores across the country have begun opening their doors earlier and earlier — many on Thanksgiving itself — forcing their workers to step away from their families to help with massive crowds.
Last year, REI took a stand against this trend with #OptOutside, an effort to move away from the material pursuits of Black Friday and, instead, enjoy America’s great outdoors with close friends and family. It closed all of its stores, allowing its employees to spend the holiday with their loved ones, and encouraged the rest of us to do the same.
This Black Friday, Nov. 25, the Appalachian Trail Conservancy (ATC) is proud to #OptOutside alongside REI and many other companies and organizations.
We urge family members of all ages and backgrounds to gather together and experience the inspiration that the great outdoors — including our beloved Appalachian Trail (A.T.) — can provide.
We see this day as an opportunity: for some, this will be a chance to escape the hustle and bustle of towns and cities so common on Black Friday, trading it instead for the peace of the Appalachian Mountains; for others, it will be the perfect excuse for an outdoor adventure with close friends and family; for still others, the Trail will provide the solitude needed for introspection as they follow a winding path into America’s backwoods.
None of these opportunities will be available to those who choose instead to fight the inevitable crowds and lines in stores, nor those clicking “refresh” waiting for the next online deal.
So rather than giving into the artificial, unnecessary stress of Black Friday, answer this question instead:
Below are some of the opportunities we have leading up to Nov. 25 that can help you #OptOutside:
- The ATC recently launched the #myATstory series, creating short films that showcase how the A.T. has impacted people's lives forever. We hope that these films will encourage others to experience the Trail and its amazing community, leading to the creation of their own inspiring stories. Our first two films, "Trail Brothers" and "Trail Angels," can be viewed below.
- We also invite anyone with an inspiring A.T. experience to submit their stories to the #myATstory Contest, where entrants will have an opportunity to win hiking equipment and a backpacking trip with the ATC. For more information, click here.
- Join the ATC and the charming A.T. Community of Narrows, Virginia, for a classic Fall Festival on Oct. 29.
- On Nov. 6 in Harpers Ferry, W.V., the ATC will host "Taste of the Trail," a celebration of the partnership between Sunbelt Bakery and the ATC. There will be family-friendly games, giveaways, food and drinks. Click here for more information.
- The ATC Headquarters and Visitor Center in Harpers Ferry, W.V., will open its doors on Nov. 25, as several of our volunteers have asked to help as many people as possible find fun and appropriate hikes for every family member.
We are always updating our event schedule with future hikes and events, so be sure to check back here or visit appalachiantrail.org/events to find more opportunities to #OptOutside soon.
For more information about the #OptOutside movement, OptOutside.REI.com.
We look forward to seeing you on the Trail on Nov. 25!