As we find ourselves more than a year into the pandemic, we are taking a break and looking back at how far we have come. Last year was one of enormous change. As an outdoor community, we have learned so much about ourselves, our communities and our natural resources.
We wanted to share the following nine things about what we have learned during 2020 as an outdoor community.
1. Recreation is essential, not optional.
Time outdoors is essential for our well-being, and everyone should have access to it. Everybody needs, and should be able to access, the healing power of nature.
2. Sharing is caring.
Outdoor spaces are shared spaces, and with outdoor recreation use at an all-time high, there are a lot more people to share it with right now. It’s important to responsibly share outdoor spaces as more people head outside.
3. Masks are easy.
Packing and wearing masks, when necessary, is easy. This last year, we found that our favorite masks helped keep us and everyone around us safer. Keep doing it!
4. Leave No Trace applies everywhere.
Leave No Trace isn’t just for the backcountry. The principles to pick up after yourself and protect the places you love apply in all outdoor settings, from picking up dog poop at your local park to keeping rivers and creeks clean.
5. Plan for the unexpected.
In a new world, we are learning to manage our expectations when going outdoors. You might find a closure, new routes, or new rules. Everyone, from outdoor novices to backcountry experts, has spent a little more time on research than we did before.
6. Discovering our local gems.
With conditions ever-changing, we realized that finding green space close to us has never been more important. Not everyone has access to huge parks or forests, and we have new appreciation for our local parks, trails, even the trees on our neighborhood walks.
7. The outdoors needs our support.
If this year taught us anything, it’s that the outdoor spaces don’t maintain themselves. We all have a role to play in asking decision makers to prioritize maintaining and building outdoor infrastructure.
8. Climate change is real.
In a year when the outdoors were everything, we saw how climate change threatens our ability to enjoy them. From wildfires that ravaged the West to unprecedented snow that shut down the Southeast, we need to pay attention and take action to protect our global climate.
9. There’s space for everyone.
Everyone enjoys the outdoors differently – from people exploring the beach for the first time to families on day outings to kids on scavenger hunts to mountain bikers to backcountry camping to avid whitewater paddlers – and we must lead with kindness. We all have a role to play in building an inclusive outdoors.
This post was originally published at RecreateReponsibly.org.