Outdoor Retailer - Summer 2016 - (Page 31)
BENITEZ ON EVEREST
"Si, Abuelita, I never
forget your wishes."
BY 2045, THIS COUNTRY
WILL BE OVER 35 PERCENT
ATTHAT POINT, OVER 50
PERCENT OFALL CHILDREN
WILL BE FROM A LATINO/
Beyond the Baggage
Courtesy Luis Benitez
Latino/Hispanics may just have a more inclusive view of how to
enjoy the outdoors. And as the Hispanic population in the U.S.
surges, outdoor retailers would be wise to join in.
by Luis Benitez
Oh, mi nieto! ¿Por qué tiene que ir a las montañas? ¿Por qué haces esto a mí y hacer que
me preocupe tanto de ti? Voy a decir oraciones
cada mañana y cada noche y te sugiero que
hagas lo mismo!
"Oh, my grandson! Why do you have to go
to the mountains? Why are you doing this to
me and make me worry so much about you?
I'll say prayers every morning and every night,
and I suggest you do the same!" My Abuelita,
my grandmother, said this to me before every
climbing trip-tales of woe, of not understanding the pull of the high mountains that
surrounded Quito, Ecuador, where my father's family has lived for seven generations.
My grandmother made me promise, for certain, that I carry my rosary on every trip, and
not only on the trip but on my person for every
climb. (Having it just in my backpack was not
acceptable). She knew the mountains around
Quito and that Cayambe had a statue of the
Virgin Mary just above the hut, and she made
me swear that on every trip up I would go and
say a little prayer for protection and for returning safely while on the way down.
Imagine as a young mountain guide having
to explain to clients that I needed to pause for
a minute and go visit a statue "just over there"
because "my grandmother told me to."
THIS CULTURAL IDENTITY, THIS "BAGGAGE"
is something most Latinos and Hispanics (see
page 32 to better understand these terms) often struggle to define in the outdoor community. I believe it comes from thinking differently about the nature of our relationship with the
outdoors. Also, the fact that we pack different
food, and we didn't have any heroes to look up
to that looked like us with names like ours set
us apart. (Ever hear of Ivan Vallejo? Don't feel
bad, most people haven't.)
I don't believe you have to understand what
makes us different to embrace where our cultures and communities can continue to come
together. We have the capacity to connect the
dots, and I think it is important that we do so.
For instance, did you know that on average
the new Latino/Hispanic outdoorist recreates
not solo, and not with just one partner, but
often with a significant portion of the family?
The wilderness is seen as a vacation, a place to
celebrate, as much as to recreate. Established
campsites that service two to four people are
insufficient; it's that rarely used group campsite that's seeing more and more traffic by families wanting to share the experience. Moral
of the story? Even if grandma disapproves of
the outdoors, families are starting to bring her
along for a night under the stars.
The recreational opportunities that surround those campsites are becoming the
gateway portals for understanding how we
interact with nature. Day hikes, once seen only
through a lens of "for tourists only," are becoming more and more how we engage and embrace what's possible out there. After which,
we return to the campsite and the celebration.
In this magical space there is a significant
opportunity. By 2045, this country will be over
35 percent Latino/Hispanic, and at that point,
over 50 percent of all children will be from a
Latino/Hispanic family. Shouldn't companies
start focusing on making gear for them?
We now have people to look up to that are
helping to define what not only diversity can
do for an industry, but also what it can do for a
community. From Jose Gonzalez with Latino
Outdoors, to Irene Vilar-Grandbois with the
Latino Eco Festival. From Juan Martinez from
the Children in Nature network to Deanne
Buck with the Outdoor Industries Women
Coalition, we are redefining who we consider
heroes and what they look like. What has long
been defined as baggage has the capacity to
become magical for all of us.
-A guide who has summited Everest six
times, Luis Benitez is the first-ever Director of
the Colorado Recreation Industry Office.
Summer 2016 / OUTDOOR RETAILER 31
Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of Outdoor Retailer - Summer 2016
Outdoor Retailer - Summer 2016
Know Your Customer
How I Got Here
From the Road
Outdoor Retailer - Summer 2016