Rather than pitch their tents in a parking lot and fight the Black Friday crowds for a deal, many Texoma residents and visitors chose to skip the largest shopping day of the year and instead set up camp in the great outdoors.
In 2015, outdoor retailer REI launched it’s Opt Outside campaign as a counter to the chaos and consumerism of Black Friday. The outfitter encouraged its employees and customers to spend the day exploring the natural spaces around them. Now in its third year, the campaign has gained traction among businesses and the public and both Eisenhower State Park and Hagerman National Wildlife Refuge hosted additional activities on Friday for those who opted out.
“Earlier we had what we decided to call the ‘Thanksgiving recovery hike,’” Eisenhower State Park Superintendent Matt Harwood said. “And that was to burn off the bird and the other holiday feastings on a brisk hike with a ranger. And then later this afternoon, we’re having an animal science hike, where we search for clues left behind by wildlife.”
Harwood said while Texas Parks and Wildlife may not have officially supported the campaign this year on a departmental level, Eisenhower State Park scheduled the extra activities to coincide with the day of retail rebellion. The park superintendent said spending time outdoors can be a great stress reliever and that comes in handy during the holiday shopping season.
“It really kind of slows the pace of the holidays down for everybody involved,” Harwood said. “It gives you the chance to appreciate the things you might not have before and really for people just to enjoy themselves.”
Melinda Safir said she and her family traveled up from Dallas to spend the weekend camping at Eisenhower and that she didn’t at all feel as if she was missing out by foregoing the Black Friday shopping deals.
“I think there’s a lot of traffic, unnecessary stress, anxiety, people racing to go wherever,” Safir said. “We didn’t want to deal with crowds, and we didn’t want to deal with the craziness.”
Safir said although she and her husband David had never heard of the Opt Outside campaign, they agreed with its aim.
“People don’t get out enough,” Safir said. “They don’t get away from electronics, computers, cellphones and all that business. I just think people would feel a lot better if they spent more time outside.”
While some might not be ready to commit to a weekend of camping, Harwood said people need only to adventure out and spend a little extra time in nature to realize how great the outdoors can be.
“Just get out and enjoy what’s in your backyard,” Harwood said.