The Definite Article

Maybe it’s time that we change articles.  For many years now we in the outdoor industry have been talking about “Done In A Day” activities.  We should change from the indefinite (“A”) to the definite (“The”) article.  In other words, we need to start talking about “Done In The Day,” instead.


The reason is that people would benefit from getting outside on a daily basis, close to home.  Instead of a long drive to a multi-pitch day climb, encourage people to go bouldering locally instead.  The closest mountain bike trail is a half-a-day away?  Put knobby tires on the old road bike and explore the nearest dirt road, CX-style.  Just about every major metropolitan area in the Midwest has a trail close to downtown (ask us – we’ve been there), so go trail-running on one of these local paths and get to know it.  Most people would be surprised to know that the local trail changes every day, all year around.  Even a mile-long local loop can catch someone’s attention when it’s visited a few days a week.  The same is true of the local pond, stream, or lake, so get out and paddle it regularly.

There are a lot of good reasons to think “Done In The Day” instead of “Done In A Day.”  Taking advantage of outdoor recreation opportunities right outside the front door is good for one’s head, body, the environment, and the local outdoor shop, also.  The bell-curve of our industry is shifting to the right.  Basically, we’re aging, we have more responsibilities, discretionary time and dollars aren’t what they were, and we just can’t do the things we used to do.  

At the same time, the younger generations that we’re trying to court have lots of available distractions competing for their time.  While we are trying to get youth more involved and inspired by multi-day activities, it may be more effective to start out in smaller doses.  On day five of a backpacking trip kids really miss cold-milk-and-cereal and their Wii console, while an afternoon in the local nature preserve can be a life-changing experience.

We here at Pemba Serves have come to this “Done In The Day” paradigm, naturally.  As our time has become more limited, we’ve wanted to get outdoors in a meaningful way so we’ve added new ways to play.  Local trail running was the start for most of us, then came the CX bikes.  In addition to these out-the-door activities, open-water swimming, snowshoeing, skate-skiing, Nordic Walking, fly-fishing, and road-biking are things we can do right from PEMBAbase – no car required.  (It’s true: We do go Nordic Walking just for the fun of it, although Pete would prefer to go for a Parkour session.) Shortly, we’ll add paddle-boarding and long-boarding to our stash of games, too.  (While they sound similar, one’s for on-water, the other for the bike-paths…) We like to get outside, we want to do it more often, and like everybody else these days we seem to lack time, dollars, and gas to go on the long trips.  

It’s also worth mentioning that all of us climb indoors at least a few days a month.  While this is an indoor activity, climbing is also an outdoor sport.  Doing it indoors is fulfilling in its own right, and it gets you ready for those times when you get to touch actual honest-to-goodness rock.  (If you don’t believe me, just ask Steve – he’s a Plastic Prince that crushes real stone in his bare hands…)

This shift in articles from “A” to “The” is something that we believe in, strongly.  As you’ve read, Pete was so inspired by it that he helped start a not-for-profit to promote the idea.  While it’s exciting to think about traveling abroad for those once-in-a-lifetime trips, the truth is that there’s more benefits available to everybody if people take time to get to know the daisies, right out the front door.  And, you can do this on a daily basis.

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