How A Rugged Individualist Tackles The Great Outdoors


Not all junk mail is bad. If he hadn’t taken the time to open last week’s batch of circulars and special offers, he would have never received the news. News that he was now a full-fledged member of the Adventure Club of North America for Outdoor Enthusiasts.

Here’s how: somewhere along the line, someone found out that he had been outside. This someone placed a call to somebody who knows somebody at this organization. They in turn came to the realization that he fits the outdoorsman type. He did play little league when he was a kid. He had also done his share of sleeping under full moons and rowing down rivers like Huckleberry Finn. Perhaps one of their higher-ups witnessed him wearing a smile after tipping his canoe in 1987.

Being a member of this club carries many responsibilities. They started off by informing him that “America’s leading outdoor enthusiasts club” NEEDS him. Talk about a lot of pressure! First Uncle Sam and now this? Secondly, they addressed the letter “Dear outdoor enthusiast” which made him think that he was not alone. Could it be that there are other people who enjoy hanging outside? Or was this letter intended for someone who likes the outdoors more than him and it fell into the wrong hands?

The club went on to say that they had taken the liberty of making him a member. They actually pre-approved his application, which he found unusual since he didn’t know he needed an application to enjoy the outdoors. They enclosed a Club ID card that he can keep in his wallet to prove that he is an outdoor enthusiast. And just when things couldn’t get any better, they told him that he didn’t need to send money right away. Good thing, because he still owed money to the Adventure Clubs of South America and Australia. Plus, he just found out that the check he sent to the Adventure Club of Northeast Jamaica got lost in the mail.

Here is what the Adventure Club of North America for Outdoor Enthusiasts is all about. It is a nationwide association of active men and women who share a passion for high energy fun. Sounds good so far. Just as long as they don’t discriminate against people who believe that the same happiness can be found indoors. Some of his best friends like doing things inside. And he has been known to dabble in some of life’s finer things that are generally done inside. Like coming in out of the rain, watching TV, and sanding his hardwood floors.

Being a member of this club would also enable him to enjoy activities like snorkeling, scuba diving and bungee-jumping even more than he does now. And who in Cleveland doesn’t like doing these things? Every time he looks out his window Clevelanders of all ages are jumping off rocks over Lake Erie with elastic cords attached to their feet. And he can’t even go for a swim in the Cuyahoga these days without colliding head-first with a school of snorkelers!

So he is at a crossroads. Does he join this club? Or does he continue to take in the outdoors at a level he is more comfortable with? Like when his friends let him go outside with them as a guest. Of course he runs the risk of having the Adventure Club’s salespeople keeping tabs on him. And hounding him day and night with phone calls asking him when he intends to join.

Here’s why his decision was so difficult. Every month they wanted to send him products that he would put through rigorous tests. One month they might send him a state of the art tennis racket. If he likes it, he sends them money. If it throws his timing off so much that he’s swinging at balls that were served yesterday, he’s free to keep it – no questions asked. What’s more, he would choose from a list of outdoor activities that suit his interests and personality. To his disappointment the Adventure Club of North America for Outdoor Enthusiasts does not consider watching his beloved Indians while stuffing his face with bratwurst and peanuts a suitable outdoor activity. Strike one against the club. How about products that protect humanity from harmful fumes that seep from propane-burning grills when barbecuing? Nothing on the list for this either. Strike two. He glossed over information about equipment for swimming with scissors, bicycling from killer bees and gladiator golfing – so he worked their pitch to a full-count.

But after reading over the small print with highly sophisticated magnifying lenses, he discovered that he would need to abandon too many things indoors. It was as if the club was asking him to move outside full-time. At first, he thought that moving his family outside might not be such a bad thing. They could set up a camp in his parents’ backyard. As for going to the supermarket, they could wait in the parking lot and offer to pay someone to get their groceries. But this would entail making out a list and since nobody can read his handwriting his family ran the risk of not getting the items they asked for. Then they would need to hire someone else to return the wrong items, and you never completely know what a particular store’s return policies are like. Things would get hectic very fast.

But it was the fact that he is already a card-carrying member of the Preferred Music Listeners Club of Midwest America (members have been known to hang indoors) that made him realize that joining an organization like the Adventure Club of North America for Outdoor Enthusiasts wasn’t to be. He had weighed all of the options. And nothing compared to the thrill of getting 10 CDs for the price of 1, without having to apply insect repellent. Can you think of a club that carries this many privileges?

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