“Everyone has the right to GTFO (Get the Fun Outside)!” That’s the main philosophy of Outdoor Nation. The youth-led organization champions the outdoors. Just last month the Nation attracted nearly 250 young adults to its annual Regional Summer Summit. All of the attendees camped beneath the overcast Brooklyn sky in Floyd Bennett Field.
Outdoor Nation broke out in June 2010 with a two-day summit in New York City’s Central Park. The coalition of retailers, outdoor educators, and conservation groups provided funding for workshops, entertainment, and top ideas. One year later they’ve “grown in resolve to find solutions to the national and local issues that are keeping people indoors,” says Lindsay Bourgoine, AMC’s Maine policy associate and Outdoor Nation’s lead ambassador for Portland, Maine. The grassroots organization has almost tripled in size in 12 months. Membership now exceeds 1,300. As a lead ambassador, Bourgoine helps develop innovative ways to get youth outside and works on Outdoor Nation’s website, Facebook page, and funding proposals.
In Brooklyn, breakout groups discussed challenges to getting youth outdoors. They also developed priority lists of rights and responsibilities inherent to properly enjoying our lands. These included the right to an education about the outdoors and accessibility. Responsibilities varied from Leave No Trace to serving as an activist for our open spaces. Event sponsors, The North Face, The Conservation Fund, and REI Foundation, provided $10,000 in funding, to be awarded to the top four ideas from the summit. The Top four ideas were:
- A mentorship program to teach leadership skills to inner city students.
- “Reach One Teach One,” a program that will place mentors in physical education classrooms to promote afterschool programs and outdoor recreation activities.
- A traveling outdoor recreation program that intertwines other disciplines like math and science.
- A gear partnership between an outdoor club and a school that would provide access to donated materials.
Want to get involved? It’s not too late to attend a summit! Outdoor Nation just wrapped its summit in Denver. The year’s concluding summit will take place in San Francisco from July 29-31. Learn more about Outdoor Nation here.
Photo Cred: Mark Zakutansky