Outdoor Literature


Dominant & Recessive Generations






Dominant and Recessive Outdoor Generations

From:   Watters, Ron. "Generational Analysis: A New Method of Examining the History of Outdoor Adventure Activities and a Possible Predictor of Long Range Trends." Proceedings of the 2005 Conference on Outdoor Recreation and EducationLink to the HTML Version.

Dominant Outdoor Types 
Idealistic Type - In this generational type, interest in the outdoors is motivated by a desire to escape from civilization and get back to nature.  For them, the inner journey is as important or more important than the outward one.  Although competition clearly is present, it is often downplayed or not acknowledged.  The Idealist generation approaches outdoor experiences with almost a religious zeal and is at times overly moralistic.  While risk and challenge play a role, they are subverted by a larger sense of the wholeness and purity of the experience.  Since the preceding two generations have little interest in the outdoors, they often feel, incorrectly, they have discovered outdoors.

Reactive Type- This is clearly a risk taking generation.  Risk, challenge and adrenaline are important motivators for participating in outdoor activities.  They find talk about the spirituality of outdoor experience and the moralizing of the Idealistic generation a bit tiresome.  They'd rather get out and "just do it."  Competition is embraced.  They make a sport of almost every outdoor activity.  There is less of a need to escape civilization, and the individual parts of the outdoor experience are as important as whole.  A satisfying outdoor experience by the Reactive type can be had by playing in a wave along side a highway or climbing on a boulder from the back of a pick-up truck.



Recessive Outdoor Types   
Civic Type.  Members of this generation have little time for outdoor activities.  They are a busy, productive generation.  Early in adulthood, they are faced with overcoming a secular crisis which has threatened their way of life, and once the crisis has been overcome, they quickly settle into re-building and creating new institutions.  They are team-oriented, and not particularly interested in individualistic endeavors, nor are they interested in spiritual experiences through outdoor activity.  Moreover, they are not significantly motivated by risk.  They already have enough risk in their lives and do not need to artificially create it by engaging in risky outdoor activities.

Adaptive Type.
  Of all the generational types, this one is the most risk adverse.  Security and conformity is important to them and there is little collective desire to engage in adventurous outdoor activities.  Those who do break the mold and do take risks are seen as odd.  Their children, however, will re-kindle a resurgence of interest in the outdoors and will see the non-conformists of their parent's generation as heroes. 


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