The Buzz

Skip the stores and #OptOutside for Black Friday instead

People walking on the trail on a warm winter day
(Photo by Chad Merda)

Looking for a new post-Thanksgiving tradition other than hitting the local malls and stores for some frenzied holiday shopping? Consider joining the movement to #OptOutside instead.

The idea behind the #OptOutside movement is simple. On Black Friday, hit the great outdoors rather than the overcrowded stores. Your time outside need not be structured or organized. Just make time to get outside. You don't even have to eschew Black Friday shopping altogether to #OptOutside; you can make time for both.

The #OptOutside movement started several years ago, and outdoor retailer REI helped it gain momentum in 2015 by starting a campaign to get people to head outdoors instead of to stores on the day after Thanksgiving, USA Today reports. In support of the initiative, REI stores are closed on Thanksgiving and the day after.

The National Park Service has also joined the #OptOutside movement, encouraging people to head to a nearby park or outdoor space to enjoy the fresh air and be inspired by all the great outdoors has to offer. 

You surely know by now that making a commitment to spend time outside on a regular basis is good for both your mental and physical health, and the #OptOutside initiative can be another motivation to help you make time for it. How much time outside is enough to reap the health benefits? Two hours per week, according to a study published in Scientific Reports.

If you're looking for a place to #OptOutside, consider a visit to a nearby forest preserve. If you already have some favorite spots, maybe visit a preserve you haven't checked out before. Our preserves include more than 130 miles of trails to explore if you want to walk, jog or even bike off your holiday feast.

Want a way to make your time in the preserve more interactive? Join our Take It Outside challenge, which sends participants on a wild goose chase across the county, answering trivia questions, taking photos and checking in at various locations throughout the preserves. The challenge has been going on all year, but it's not too late to start. There are hundreds of missions that can be completed, and prizes are randomly awarded to participants each month. We will also be awarding MasterCard gift cards to the top three point earners when the challenge ends Dec. 31: $500 for first place, $250 for second place and $150 for third place. 

All you need to participate in the Take It Outside challenge is a smartphone. Simply download the Goosechase app, set up an account and search for the Take It Outside challenge by name or by using the code 6DW83B. Once you've joined the challenge you'll be all ready to head out on an outdoor adventure of your own choosing, accumulating points as you go.  

If you're participating in our annual Woods Walk challenge, Black Friday is a great time to hit one of the participating trails to check it off your list before the hiking challenge ends Nov. 30. You can also make your trip to the preserves more low key. If the weather cooperates, pack a lunch to enjoy or simply find a bench in a quiet spot and relax while listening to the sounds of nature all around you. 


Of course, you can #OptOutside any day of the year, but Black Friday seems like as good a time as any to start. If you want to keep opting outside long after Black Friday passes, check out our event calendar to find out about upcoming educational and recreational program offerings that will help you enjoy the great outdoors all year long.

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