Let me begin with a confession. I almost decided not to continue my annual update of Presents for Plannerds which I started in 2013. As my family knows, I have never been much of a shopper, but I thought it would be fun to compile a list of gift ideas for my fellow planners and those who may want to give us presents for Christmas. So I updated the list in 2014, 2015, 2016, and 2017. But as December approached this year, I just did not feel an urge to provide a 2018 update. I was disturbed by images and stories of shoppers fighting over on-sale items on Black Fridays and also wondered whether I should be promoting online shopping after reading about the wastes it generates in articles like this one. Thus I have decided to take a different approach this year. As a park planner, I want to encourage everyone to enjoy and experience the great outdoors, i.e. the wonderful local, state, and national parks and trails we have across the U.S. Provided below is a list of park and recreation-related gift ideas:
America the Beautiful Passes
These passes provide access to over 2,000 recreation sites managed by federal agencies, with up to 100% of the proceeds being used to improve and enhance visitor recreation services. Each pass covers entrance fees at national parks and national wildlife refuges as well as standard amenity fees (day use fees) at national forests and grasslands, and at lands managed by the Bureau of Land Management, Bureau of Reclamation and U.S. Army Corps of Engineers. A pass covers entrance, standard amenity fees, and day use fees for a driver and all passengers in a personal vehicle at per vehicle fee areas (or up to four adults at sites that charge per person). Children age 15 or under are admitted free. Each pass is $80 and available for purchase in person, by phone, and online. Anyone 16 years or older may purchase the pass; children under 16 are always admitted free. Each annual pass can have up to two “owners.” For passes, click America the Beautiful Passes.
National Park Foundation Products
The National Park Foundation (NPF) is the official charitable partner of the National Park Service and enriches America’s national parks and programs through the support of private citizens, park lovers, stewards of nature, history enthusiasts, and wilderness adventurers. NPF’s online gift shop offers supporters a great way to show their love for the national parks, while supporting them at the same time. The shop offers items such as a stainless sports water bottle, zip hoodie, tote bags, t-shirts, trucker hats, wall calendars, books, board games, camping equipment, telescopes, and binoculars. For gift shop, click National Park Foundation Products.
California State Parks Annual Passes
The California State Parks Annual Pass is a great gift for frequent visitors to state parks or anyone who would like to sample the beauty of state parks from north to south. The Annual Passes offer something for everyone, and make great gifts throughout the year, not just for Christmas. The “California Explorer” Annual Pass ($195), offering vehicle entrance to 134 state parks, including the high demand Southern California beaches along the Los Angeles, Orange, and San Diego Coasts. The popular “Golden Poppy” Annual Pass ($125) is making a comeback, and will include vehicle entrance to 112 state parks, including most reservoirs and many popular destination parks and northern California beaches. The “Historian Passport ($50) will include admission to up to four people to State Historic Parks that generally charge a per-person admission fee. Pass holders will be able to tour a California mission, see where the Gold Rush happened and experience Native American culture. The 2019 Annual Passes (which expire in 2020) will be available for purchase in-person on Monday, December 17, 2018 at the Park Pass Sales Office located in the Natural Resources Building in Sacramento and at designated locations. Passes will be valid beginning January 1, 2019. For passes, click California State Parks Annual Passes.
Parks Project Products
Parks Project was founded to create and sell collections of park goods that directly fund backlogged projects in national parks. According to the Park Projects website, each product purchased contributes directly to one of over 30 different conservancies across the U.S., providing funding for the ongoing care of national parks. Examples of products available at this online store includes framed prints, T-shirts, hats, hoodies, sweatshirts, water bottles, and posters that feature well-known destinations like Big Sur, Joshua Tree, Yosemite, Zion, Yellowstone, and Sequoia. Click for Parks Project products.
Memberships to Gardens
In addition to national and state parks, most cities have arboretums and botanical gardens which are well worth visiting. Here in Los Angeles County, we have quality facilities like The Arboretum, Descanso Gardens, and the South Coast Botanic Garden, all of which offer a variety of memberships for individuals, families, seniors, students, and teachers. One noteworthy benefit of membership is that members of these gardens also receive free admission to other botanical gardens (with some exceptions) across North America through the American Horticultural Society’s Reciprocal Admissions Program.
Outdoor Recreation Goods
If you are looking to encourage the plannerd in your life to venture outside more in 2019, you may want to gift him or her clothing, travel equipment, camping gear, or other items offered by stores like REI, Big 5 Sporting Goods, DICK’s Sporting Goods, Patagonia, and The North Face. Some of you may be familiar with the Opt Outside movement which REI started a few years ago. For the fourth year running, people were encouraged to opt outside and spend time outdoors in nature rather than in Black Friday crowds. REI continued the movement it initiated by closing all of its retail locations on what would otherwise be a busy holiday shopping day (read this article).
The above list is certainly not intended to be exhaustive and just highlights some items that I think are good presents for plannerds who want to enjoy the outdoors more, and be more active. We have probably all heard the saying “it is better to give than to receive.” I agree with these timeless words of wisdom and believe that when we have the ability and capacity to give, we should. I think that many plannerds would not mind receiving any of the above items. And even if s/he does not care for material things, most (if not all) plannerds would appreciate the thought and welcome some words of appreciation, encouragement, and support, especially during this time of year. So let’s be generous and share some thoughtful gifts and/or words this month.
Note: Photo by author.
Disclaimer: The opinions expressed in this article are those of the author alone.