By: Blonde Two
February 2nd, 2016 was a day that will stick forever in our Blonde minds. It was the day we first became one (pair) of the first fifteen Ordnance Survey GetOutside Champions. Lots of things have happened since then (see below). We’ve stayed true to our belief that being outside is good for everybody, and done our very best to convince everyone else of the same.
If online interest is anything to go by (we suggest it is), the message is getting through. Over 7.1 million people visited the GetOutside website in 2020, and 353,626 new routes were planned on the OSMaps app in May, June and July alone.
However, there’s still plenty of work to be done. Not only on persuading everyone to GetOutside but also on helping the vast numbers of new outdoor visitors to do so responsibly. We’ve loved being part of the GetOutside team, have met some lovely people, and made some super friends. If we had to sum up the GetOutside campaign in three words, I think it would be these,
INSPIRE, ENCOURAGE, SUPPORT
Lights, camera, action Blondes!
Who could have known as we followed the wonderful Jason Rawles and his ice-axe through the streets of London towards a film studio for our first Champions meet-up, what excitement was to follow! By the time that day was over we had had all kinds of new experiences:
- We had posed for group and Blonde photos
- We had chatted to the video camera about our love of the outdoors
- We had sneaked off to find our very own Blonde dressing room
- We had met some amazing people from all over the UK
- We had taught an Ordnance Survey bigwig how to correctly fold a map
Five years of GetOutside fun!
Five years later and we still love our GetOutside Champions role. We still do many of the same things we did back then to, directly and indirectly, encourage other people to enjoy the benefits of an outdoor lifestyle.
- We still do expedition work with young people (but have added adults to the list)
- We still love maps and navigation (and now run our own navigation workshops)
- We still love wild camping (and now run wild camping weekends)
- We still write about our adventures (this blog had its eighth birthday in October)
- We still follow relative strangers with ice axes through London (not strictly true but Blonde life remains very weird!)
Award-winning outdoor campaign
Of course, plenty has changed as well. In five years the GetOutside initiative has gone from strength to strength.
- GetOutside now has 100 champions
- There are three other remaining original champions – adventurer Sean Conway, runner (and all-round lovely chap) Karl Rushen, and fellow writer Phoebe Smith
- The GetOutside team has organised three really successful National Get Outside days
- The GetOutside campaign has won UK Active awards for two consecutive years
We Blondes have gone from strength to strength too.
- B1 is now in charge of outdoor education at a most excellent school
- I’ve left teaching and now write about the outdoors for a living
- We are now TV stars with appearances on ITV’s Britain’s Favourite Walks: Top 100, and Channel Four’s Devon and Cornwall
- We’ve taught navigation skills all over the UK, including London
- We’ve helped promote walking activities in the Isles of Scilly and Ireland
- We’ve slept outdoors in two hemispheres, in winter weather, and with slugs
- We regularly receive messages from people with words like ‘inspired’ and ‘thank you’ in them
And then the pandemic struck. What exactly are you supposed to do when your role is to tell everyone to Get Outside but the national instructions are for everyone to stay at home? The fantastic Ordnance Survey GetOutside team turned a solution round in almost no time at all, and the GetOutside Inside hub was born (under present lockdown restrictions – GetOutside, Stay Local). Of all the amazing things we Blondes have done since we became GetOutside Champions, I think our involvement in this is my most proud moment. Strange really because much of it was undertaken from inside our own homes.
- We camped in our gardens
- We climbed indoor mountains
- We went on a virtual expedition – around our gardens
- We walked local secret messages using the OSMaps app
- We redefined map symbols for indoor use (check out our blanket bog!)
Into the future
You don’t have to have read all the above to work out how proud we Blondes have been of our GetOutside role. We have championed the cause, welcomed new champions into the fold, and some of us have even started to go grey in the process! There are certainly challenges ahead, and super-important ‘let’s look after the outdoors‘ messages to be shared but we look forward to being a part of it all.
The last twelve months have proved you never know what lies ahead but we have no doubts that the dedicated GetOutside team will see continued success.