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Opt to Act with Explore Austin & REI

For the 5th year in a row, REI is closing its doors on the biggest shopping day of the year and challenging people to #OptOutside this Black Friday. For the 3rd year in a row, Explore Austin is answering the call. #OptOutside is a movement to remind people of the incredible benefits of nature and outdoor activity. Through Saturday Challenges and Summer Wilderness Trips, Explore Austin creates space for the youth of our program to truly encompass the positive impact of the outdoors on their well-being. This year, REI has taken the #OptOutside campaign a step further and is asking participants to leave the world better than they found it. The Opt to Act Plan gives 52 simple weekly challenges to encourage personal-life changes to reduce one’s negative impact on the Earth. 


This year’s campaign closely aligns with Explore Austin’s values and specifically our ACES leadership curriculum. ACES stands for Action-Oriented, Courageous, Excellent Teammate and Strong Communicator. The Opt to Act emphasis displays REI’s Action-Oriented leadership within the outdoor community. In light of the current climate of our Earth, REI is leading by example and challenging the world to take action. 


Explore Austin practices and teaches Leave No Trace Principles to all its participants. As stated on the Leave No Trace website, “The Seven Principles of Leave No Trace provide an easily understood framework of minimum impact practices for anyone visiting the outdoors.” Leave No Trace is particularly important during Summer Wilderness Trips when Explorers are cooking, cleaning, eating and living in the outdoors for a week. Mentors and Trip Leaders ensure Explorers leave grounds cleaner than when they arrived. Any location temporarily inhabited must be left indistinguishable from the rest of the park, forest or mountain. This means not only picking up any tiny pieces of trash, but also food scraps that should not be left out for critters. 


Over the years, REI has provided Explore Austin with continuous support: from monetary donations to brand new hiking backpacks, tents, rain gear, etc. Explore Austin is especially grateful to have been a recipient of the REI Force of Nature Grant. Force of Nature is REI’s award-winning, social change initiative that supports outdoor adventure for women and girls and aims to make the outdoors the largest level playing field for all. 


After all REI has done for Explore Austin, the #OptOutside campaign gives Explore Austin a chance to reciprocate the support of REI and elevate a common goal of getting people outside. Join the Explore Austin community and #OptOutside this Friday. Remember to follow Leave No Trace Principles and make the conscious choice to Opt to Act in order to leave your mark and maintain the beauty and power the world has to offer.