Image Alt Text

The mission  of the Big Tent  is to promote sustainable, diverse, equitable, and inclusive outdoor experiences in Washington state through advocacy and education.

#RecreateResponsibly to Protect Yourself, Others, and the Outdoors

During this public health crisis, spending time in outdoor spaces has become even more important for many Americans. Yet these unusual circumstances mean that all of us, from seasoned outdoor enthusiasts to families heading out to their local park for the first time, could use a little guidance about how to stay safe. The Recreate Responsibly guidelines offer a starting point for getting outside to keep yourself healthy and to maintain access to our parks, trails, and beaches. [ LEARN MORE ]



We Represent Outdoor Recreation

BigTent Admin

President's Letter

Peter Schrappen, CAE

Rarely does a day pass when I don’t hear, “No one saw this pandemic coming.” Thinking back these last four months, I have had the same thought. No one saw this coming. And by no one, I mean the markets, the economists, the events-cancellation-insurance policies and on and on. Just look at the news from mid-January (“U.S. Consumer confidence nears all-time high in Q4: U.S. Consumer confidence remained at a historic high of 123 points in the fourth quarter of 2019” (LINK)). A mere seven days later from this reporting, Wuhan, China and their populations of eleven million prepared for a 76-day lockdown (LINK).

(Stop what you are doing, pull out your event insurance policy. Look at the force majeure (“superior force”) part. Actually, you don’t need to look. I’d bet you a Tom Douglas coconut cream pie that there’s not a mention of a pandemic that would cancel your event. The only big event that had the foresight to cover a pandemic was the Wimbledon Tennis Championships. Imagine that: We are talking multi-billion-dollar enterprises here with Major League Soccer, the Mariners, Major League Baseball, Masters, Olympics and NBC advertising dollars and none of these entities saw this pandemic coming.)

This is all rather confusing. On the one hand, a quick Google (err Bing) search of “1918 flu economic impact”, and you’ll see the learning lessons right there for all to see. So many questions come to mind. Why weren’t we better prepared? Why are we so poor at predictions? Nassim Nicholas Talib in must-read The Black Swan has an answer. He compares humans to turkeys living out each day until Thanksgiving. Imagine the turkey getting fattened. How could they know that their life would come crashing down as November nears? That us, too. We are not competent soothsayers.

For me, it’s not about getting into the game of predictions. Rather as boards think about the future and the love-and-hated retreats, it’s about realizing that Black Swans are always lurking and that life never gets back to normal. By our very nature, each day is different. What is normal, however, is the doubling back on core values. Moving forward, it’s good to ask how is your organization preparing for and mitigating against future events that will throw conventional wisdom out the window? (It’s a fun exercise. Google “Scenario planning” and play around with this style of planning.)

So, what’s next? First, don’t be too hard on yourself. As Ray Dalio artfully states in this thought-provoking podcast (“Ray Dalio’s Got Principles” (LINK), “What we don’t know is far greater than what we do know.” If you have an event or a season that is shelved and you are upset that you didn’t think through a pandemic, then you are in good company (even Ray, the world’s most successful hedge-fund manager is kicking himself for missing it). Second, it’s imperative (again, relying on a mix of Ray Dalio and adopting Simon Sinek’s classic TED talk (“How great leaders inspire action (LINK)) to rely on the core

values of your organization to see through this crisis. Remind yourself, your team and board why you were formed and go all in on those principals to lay out the path forward.

It’s always a good idea to remind your staff and board, “Why you exist?” and to fully understand, “Who are you for?” Another thought-provoking questions is “What is the minimum viable audience (helpful LINK) we need to reach to sustain us?” Once these questions are answered and buy-in has occured, then it’s time to segue into “What are we are going to do to achieve our mission?” and “How are we going to get there?” (Start with the Why and then move into the “what” and “how”).

But wait, there’s even more good news. Fortunately for us (lovers of the outdoors) and thinking of the Big Tent Coalition and the Northwest Marine Trade Association (my day job), we have values perfectly positioned for what tomorrow brings. (Plus, I would hearken back to the optimism and roaring times that come from trauma like 1918, Great Depression and World War II). Thinking about 1918, I don’t think it was a coincidence that National Parks like the Great Smokey Mountains and Everglades came on line in the 1920’s. I don’t know about you, but I’m ready for a cultural realignment that aligns with the great outdoors.

Wrapping up here, outdoor adventure (unlike so many other industries) complement social distancing principles. As you know, the mental and economic benefits of the outdoors are what have drawn you to what you do and hopefully to the Big Tent. The values we hold dear will withstand even the worst of COVID-19. And, I would argue, are more relevant now than ever before. Plus, as economies go, this ain’t the last time we are going to see a recession. A path forward that pauses (and answers fundamental why you exist questions”, embraces core values and bounces forward with priorities and consensus are the recipe I’ll be whipping up for the near and long-term future. I’m hungry for this treat. Pass me that pie!

Thank you for reading,

Peter Schrappen, CAE
@Peterschrappen1 on Twitter Peter@Nmta.net
President, Big Tent Coalition
Vice President & Director of Government Affairs
Northwest Marine Trade Association
Podcast host: The Joy of Life Podcast (www.theJoyofLifePod.com)

Previous Article Responsible Recreation Guidelines
Next Article May 2020 Outdoor Rec Hotlist and Planning + Grant Opportunities

Washington State's Outdoor Recreation Economy Generates

View the 2020 Economic Analysis of Outdoor Recreation in Washington State for details