Outdoor Nation Youth Summit 2011

My. Weekend. ROCKED! Nostalgia for old Summer camp days were definitely mustered: We camped. We talked. We made connections and memories that will last forever. But as delegates of this years Outdoor Nation Youth Summit in Brooklyn, New York, we also got to be a part of making real change in our local and global communities. Over the course of three days, 250 young peeps (ages ranging 14 to 28) brainstormed ways to break down the barriers to getting people outside.This multi-day regional symposium was the first of five being held all over the nation.

Day 1 was spent making additions and revisions to the Congressionally recognized "Children's Outdoor Bill of Rights." Day 2 was all about brainstorming action plans and voting on the top 4 ideas to each receive $2500 in seed money to actually get going. These are the four we loved the most:

  • A mentorship program designed and run by youth specifically geared toward breaking the cycle of generational poverty. This programs seeks to educate, expose, and instill leadership skills and destroy "unspoken segregation rules" of green spaces.
  • "Reach One Teach One" puts young, relatable mentors into physical education class for one day per week. They would promote after school programs devoted to outdoor recreation activities, introducing a different activity each week. This partnership would lead to a Big Brothers/Big Sisters type of organization.
  • Create a traveling outdoor recreation program (that employs a mobile rock climbing wall) to align with gym class and curriculum for math and science. This would provide incentives for students such as free rock climbing gear.
  • Start an outdoor club in schools that would receive camping/outdoor materials in order to get students interacting with the environment and learning how to use these donated materials. The seed money would be used to get the materials for the school. We would also make this gear available to other schools and groups in the area.

The last day of Outdoor Nation was all about (drum roll) getting outside and having FUN! Sponsors like Merrel, Play Outdoors, REI, and my friends over at The North Face all came together for Free Family Summer Fun Day. The Aviator Sports Center opened its main field to the entire community for biking, bird watching, sailing, and net fishing! Below you'll see my triumphant climb to the top of The North Face rock wall (thanks Conrad Anker!) some of my buds of the day.

Me with Emily Harrington and Blair from The North Face

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