So you’re riding the lift on a powder day, with a fresh foot of snow from last night’s storm and another eight inches expected. The dude to your right is sporting the newest Arc’teryx shell and he’s talking to his buddy in the green Patagonia. “I only ski resort when the avi conditions are too high. I mean it’s fine, but it’s like you’re not really out there, you know?” They proceed to complain about the number of lines that have already been carved out, meanwhile, you’re sitting speechless.
Perhaps you’ve never experienced such a situation firsthand. I myself wondered why someone would ever complain while skiing in two fresh feet of snow. Then I remembered we were in Bozeman, a place that breathes the outdoors, oftentimes, to the point of suffocation.
Coming from an area that equates a city park to the outdoors, Bozeman overwhelmed upon first introduction. I’d considered myself to be the “outdoorsy” type prior to my college experience. During my first year, however, this self-description changed. My love for five-mile hikes and resort skiing no longer granted me a spot in the club. I tried hard to fit into the culture that had already determined my failure to do so.
In a place where, let’s face it, we’re all exceptionally “outdoorsy,” how does one begin to compete? Why shouldn’t we define a walk in the park as getting outside when, literally speaking, it is?
To further illustrate my point, I’d encourage you to count the number of times you hear the following on just the MSU campus: How many days on your pass? Wow, only 18? Talk on lift only. Roll the pants so you don’t waste time getting into your boots. How many times have you almost died in the wilderness? That’s a six for me, man.
All these point to a culture of competition that has distorted the true point of getting outside: to have fun.
Not only does this attitude create a sense of negativity for those already involved in the outdoor sphere, but it also alienates potential advocates. Considering the current atmosphere surrounding environmental protection, those who love the outdoors should be welcoming to newcomers. As the saying goes, there is strength in numbers. The more people welcomed into the club, the louder the collective voice to protect and enjoy the land. Ultimately, being ‘outdoorsy’ shouldn’t be an attitude, but rather a lifestyle of promoting recreation through inclusivity.