Weekend Warrior

Most of us will be familiar with this mode of existence! It is the culturally sanctioned outdoor path, and many outdoorists achieve enviable lives following it. Those looking for more choices, though, can expect to meet with a fair measure of cultural disapproval and even punishment.

For me it began in school with a clear message: school comes first, but outdoor pursuits are acceptable as extracurricular activities. Attempts to put the outdoors first, like going snowboarding on a school day, were likely to result in things like detention and other academic penalties. Here and there an enterprising few worked the system by creating opportunities of the sort I knew as “field trips” – getting school approval to learn about the outdoors. I’ve always envied those few, usually through a window of the detention room.

To be honest, I was a nerd too. I liked school and found intellectual pursuits fulfilling. I would have loved to have found a way to switch the priorities: put outdoors first, and school second. I never did figure out a way to do this without getting punished for it, but I’m still trying!

Now “school” is “career”, and “extracurricular activity” is “hobby”. Outdoors interests are great on your own time, but try putting them first and see what happens. Again, a select few have managed to put their outdoors pursuits first, and even have made a career of them. I want to make lifemaps for them too, but this one is for my brothers and sisters who bust out from under the roof every weekend. Whether you choose to be a Weekend Warrior or are constrained to it, there will be secrets to help you get the most out of every minute you have under the sky. This lifemap is where I’ll share the ones I gather.

Main Attractions

  • Culturally approved – most family, friends, and organizations will look favorably on you
  • Security – paychecks, health insurance, savings, less risk of burdening family
  • Balance – fulfilling work is often a good counter-balance to outdoor activities

Outdoor Time

Outdoor time is dependent on:

  • the amount of time off available in the given career,
  • proximity of desirable outdoor locations to the career location,
  • and travel means provided by the career.

Those able to maximize these things in their chosen career can achieve remarkable outdoor lives.

Obstacles

Unfortunately, the norm in American culture at least is a 40-hour work week and a scant two weeks of vacation per year. When the demands of commuting, family, and the minutiae of modern living are heaped on, it can truly be a war to get outdoors on the weekend. This can reduce the quality and quantity of the outdoor time, but also makes weekend warriors highly motivated to make good use of any time procured.

These tend to be the primary constraints faced by the weekend warrior:

  • Too little time off.
  • Too far away from good outdoor locales.
  • No flexibility in work hours and location.

Techniques

  • Negotiation with bosses for perks: leave without pay, telecommuting, flextime, outdoor projects, etc.
  • While you’re at it, ask about getting matching pre-tax contributions to non-profits like Outdoor Alliance organizations.
  • Be a Green Warrior, and choose a career that reflects your outdoor values.
  • Well-planned outings. This will be a continuing topic at Outdoorism.
  • Mini-retirements, sabbaticals, temporary voluntary unemployment

Individuals

The internet is full of us, but our very numbers can make individuals hard to find. Here are a few of my favorites:

  • Kate & Mark Calder – outdoorists in Colorado with careers in science and technology.
  • Dream in Vertical – climbing partners and students in southern California
  • Two-Heel Drive – Tom Mangan, a San Francisco Bay area journalist, keeps a well-respected hiking blog

1 response to Weekend Warrior

  1. It does seem that schools have traditionally put “adventure” on the back-burner for kids. I suppose it might be hard to keep a group of rowdy school children safe in the wilderness – ask any scout leader!

    But there are a few schools that are coming around. In the Fort Collins school district, there is a highschool PE class offered called “Adventure Sports” where the kids are taken mountain biking, hiking and rock climbing.

    Near my house, there was a small charter school (7th-12th grades) that offered an “Adventure” curriculum. Students went on week-long trips between 3-5 times a year. Each of these trips included full days of class work in the outdoors, similar to a NOLS program. Unfortunately they were bought out by the FtC school district and the school is now closed.

    NOLS, however, is another option. College students can earn credit for their Semester in the Rockies, Semester in the Southwest or Semester on the Borders programs. I wish I’d known about that in college!

    So yes, many schools, families, and institutions do relegate time spent around nature to hobbies or extra-curriculars. But, I think, and hope, that short sightedness is changing a bit.

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