To everyone who has made Outdoor Nation possible, a part of my life and hopefully an influence on many others. As the declaration that a ON ambassadors and I wrote a few years ago stated, we can and will make a measurable difference. I just watched some of that difference take place last week at the first 2012 ON Summit in NYC. There was a beautiful moment when member around the table looked at each other, and we all just started smiling. Smiling not just because we were having a good time or making great friends, but smiling because we knew that the ball was in our court. We could do something, really DO something to engage youth in our communities, and Outdoor Nation helped us realize that. In addition to helping us realize that we had the power to create change, Outdoor Nation gave our group the tools and resources to do it successfully with a grant. For this I am so grateful that there are companies like TNF, prAna, Osprey, Smartwool, Merrell; people like Chris and Ivan with a vision, and kids like the ones who I just met at the summit who believe in the importance of the outdoors in all our lives, and have the courage to keep believing.
“We are taking a stand. We are united together as a movement. We are Outdoor Nation!”…
I have stood on top of a podium listening to the national anthem in front of international competitors. I have earned awards for community involvement in front of a room full of CEO’s. I have dipped a paddle into a river and taken the first satisfying strokes on a SUP that I spent years dreaming about and months building. All of those memories bring me an extreme amount of pride, but none can compare to how proud I am to say that I have been involved with Outdoor Nation. Not the feeling of brushing the last bit of sawdust off of another creation or even the adrenaline that comes from pushing out of the gate at a Telemark World Cup race can compare to knowing that I stand in the middle of a for youth by youth movement that WILL get kids re-engaged in the outdoors.
Outdoor Nation brings together kids from across the nation every year at its summits to create projects that will break down the barriers preventing youth in the US from connecting to the outdoors. At the end of each summit, the top voted projects are sent home with grant funding to pursue their project and tools to raise more money and awareness.
Just this weekend, I went down for another ON summit in NYC. It has been a year (and a jam packed year at that) since my last summit. I sat down and immediately knew that I was at the right table. Most of the kids were from New Jersey, and we immediately started talking about Ramapo Reserve, a favorite NJ recreation spot. We named our team Soul Rock, close to the backwards spelling of one team member’s name (extra points if you can guess the name!), and a tight knit group was formed. With such great chemistry, we had an intense think tank, and our project is sure to go far. I am leaving you hanging on details on purpose because we are planning on launching shortly – stay tuned!
I have always been an advocate of the outdoors. I love introducing people to new sports and letting them see how vast their potential is. Over the past two years, I have been working with and volunteering for Outdoor Nation, a non-profit to recconect youth with the outdoors. By myself, I can only affect as many people as I can personally touch, but through their programs and funding, I along with other ambassadors can have a bigger impact.
This weekend in central park, 50 of us gathered to create a youth Bill of Rights and Responsibilities for the outdoors. The bill that we created will be the basis for regional summits throughout the summer. Along with the document, we were given the opportunity to create funded programs to start the outdoor revolution. My group came up with two plans. One was to integrate outdoor activities like mtn. biking and paddleboarding as full school sports such as football. The other is to create an Outsider Cronicles newsletter for teachers and students, raising awareness about outdoor opportunities in the region both in and out of the classroom. I cant wait to get started and if
you want to integrate your region or school into either of these programs, dont hesitate to send me an email!