There’s a paradox in this outdoor education industry of ours, and that seeming contradiction is this: Sometimes you have to go indoors in order to continue to enjoy the outdoors. Think back to the last time you opened your eyes under a canopy of trees, or glided across a lake on a kayak, or looked up and visually plotted out a course for a complex climb.
For the outdoors enthusiast — and especially for those of us who work in the outdoor industry — this is our life. We’re outside, showing others how to appreciate themselves and the backcountry. But our line of work is often a complex blend of gregarious solitude. We spend our days giving our students the best of who we are.
While we’re concentrating on the experience for the benefit of the novice as well as the experienced adventurers under our charge, we’re missing out on valuable time set aside to connect with our peers on a deeper level — outside of work.
(Image courtesy Association for Experiential Education)
The outdoor season ends, and many of us return home or follow the seasons to continue this work. In many instances, we pass up the opportunity to learn what’s new in the industry.
The solution? Look for outdoor industry conferences, trade shows, and summits you can attend. Traditionally, conferences are those large, more formal events that feature industry speakers, time in lecture halls and breakout rooms, and good dose of PowerPoint presentations. At the larger such gatherings, there’s usually a convention exhibit hall featuring industry vendors.
Summits, especially in the outdoor industry, on the other hand have a looser feel, with industry pioneers and luminaries speaking and offering demos, opportunities to meet with fellow outdoor pros during hands-on adventure-based activities, and the chance to participate in both formally led and informally organized discussions and salons. Summits often incorporate more interplay, with the opportunity to socialize with industry pros, designers and leaders taking precedence over formal education.
Below, we’ve listed some upcoming outdoor industry gatherings for those times when you’ve stepped off the trail and find yourself with some time to delve into what makes our industry tick. These outdoor industry summits, conferences, and trade shows are an excellent opportunity to