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Montana Untamed Editor

Montana Untamed editor for the Billings Gazette.

COSTly

Battling chronic outdoor syndrom troubles, or COSTly, is no easy task and requires sufferers to get rid of many of their outdoor toys.

Does your vacation want-to-do list read like a scheduled tour?

Once you pack all the gear for an outdoor trip into your vehicle is there barely room to sit?

Do you make lists for all of the gear you need to pack and it takes up a legal pad page?

You may be suffering from chronic outside syndrome troubles, also known as COSTly.

Hi, I’m Brett French, outdoor editor at the Billings Gazette, and I have suffered with COSTly for most of my life. Even as a youngster I expressed pre-COSTly symptoms by gathering as many GI Joe costumes and gear as possible, including his one-man space capsule with parachute and his dog-sled team for polar expeditions. (Dang, those were cool toys.)

COSTly is no laughing matter. It can strain relationships with family and friends as sufferers plan ways to cram as many different activities as possible into a weekend, holiday or vacation.

Does this scenario sound familiar: Joe invites you to go rafting. Don’t forget to bring your fishing rod, he suggests. Once off the water he proposes a hike or bike ride on a nearby forest trail. Why not extend the adventure by camping overnight? He just happens to own a bug-proof awning, portable fire pit, gas-powered generator to run the refrigerator to ensure your food and beverages stay cool as well as to power the four-speaker outdoor stereo system. You want twinkly lights and tiki torches to add that festive touch? Joe has them. Joe also has COSTly.

Treatment of the syndrome is heartbreaking. Sufferers must clean out their garages, storage sheds and basements of gear and sell it for pennies on the dollar at garage sales, give it away to friends and family, or donate it to Goodwill.

Ideally, a COSTly rehab professional can step in to narrow down the patient’s broad categories of interests to just one activity. Focusing on the COSTly cure mantras of “less is best” and "the person with the most toys DOESN'T win," hunters may have to choose a rifle over a bow (shudder) and abandon their shotgun altogether. Anglers will be forced to choose fly or spin fishing, or dedicated fly anglers will have to divest themselves of that lightweight spring creek rod in favor of a more versatile 6 weight.

Imagine the pain and suffering. This is no easy task. But relief comes in knowing that when winter arrives, the COSTly rafter will be forced to sit at home rather than downhill ski. Or the COSTly turkey hunter will have to abandon the fall search for elk with a bow. Life will become simpler, less overscheduled and not as costly, albeit a lot more boring.

To locate a COSTly rehab specialist in your area, simply dial 800-NOMORFUN. A trained operator is standing by to help start you on a new life of less, including less stress as you pack for your next summer outing by loading a sandwich into a plastic bag.

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