Outdoor Nation Launches Program To Expand Collegiate Outdoor Clubs Into High Schools

Campus Club program connects universities to community high schools to develop young leaders through peer mentoring and outdoor experiences

Washington, D.C. – Today Outdoor Nation, the youth-led movement championing the outdoors, announced the launch of its Campus Club program, a national initiative that will expand the collegiate outdoor club model into high schools -- empowering a new generation of outdoor champions and leaders. College students will be charged with introducing younger peers to ‘close to home’ outdoor experiences and opportunities, transforming these traditional outdoor clubs into powerful Outdoor Nation resources.

With lead support from The North Face and the National Park Service, Outdoor Nation will pilot the program in Washington, D.C. and Atlanta with students from Howard, Georgetown, Clark Atlanta and Georgia Tech Universities. Outdoor Nation will provide college students with leadership training, gear donations and comprehensive, ongoing program support. In turn, college students will help build outdoor clubs in high schools by mentoring students, leading outdoor outings and facilitating club meetings. Four college student leaders, called Outdoor Nation Fellows, will manage each local program. In addition, Outdoor Outreach, a nonprofit in San Diego, is providing technical assistance to The Outdoor Foundation and its Outdoor Nation Campus Club initiative.

“The best way to make the outdoors relevant to youth is to expose them to great experiences on their own terms,” said Chris Fanning, executive director of The Outdoor Foundation, the organization that oversees Outdoor Nation. “Thanks to support from The North Face and National Park Service, the Campus Club program will empower college students to engage their younger peers in outdoor recreation, creating personal and meaningful experiences that build enthusiasm for the outdoors.”

To launch the program, Outdoor Nation and its University partners will work with four high schools in underserved communities in each market including Dunbar High School, SEED Charter School, Cesar Chaves Parkside Charter School and HD Woodson High School in Washington DC and in Atlanta the high school partners include Booker T. Washington High School, Frederick Douglass High School, Benjamin E. Mays High School and Therrell High School. Through peer-to-peer mentoring, high school youth will participate in the following:

  • At least four  meaningful outdoor recreation outings
  • Work on two  outdoor service projects
  • Develop a plan to engage the broader community in outdoor activities and learn about outdoor-related career opportunities.

Outdoor Nation will track and evaluate the impact on each youth member – measuring outdoor appreciation as well as emotional and academic impact.

“The North Face strives to provide opportunities for people to embrace the outdoors and inspire a movement of outdoor exploration, and that often starts with close-to-home opportunities” said Ann Krcik, director of Outdoor Participation for The North Face. “The Campus Club program provides resources for the next generation of explorers to experience the outdoors, some for the first time, in a safe and supportive environment.”

The overall goal of the Campus Club program is to provide high school students with important mentoring support that will result in self-sufficient leaders who want to discover and explore the outdoors. Additionally, the program will:

  • Reinforce the benefits of life-long learning, creativity and curiosity;
  • Expand capacity of the youth to act independently and in concert with others;
  • Ensure youth are prepared to protect America’s natural and cultural resources;
  • Promote civic engagement and service in local communities as well as nationwide;
  • Engage new college students through building of outdoor clubs with Historically Black Universities and other minority-led partners

"By engaging youth in appreciation of National Parks, and in stewardship in their communities, we create the alchemy for a generation of outdoor enthusiasts. The National Park Service is proud to join with Outdoor Nation to reach out to new champions for America's Great Outdoors," said Mickey Fearn, deputy director of the National Park Service.

The Campus Club initiative is the latest program of Outdoor Nation, which was launched in 2010 to empower a new generation of outdoor champions and change-makers. This past summer, Outdoor Nation hosted five Regional Youth Summits across the country – bringing together more than 1,000 young leaders to identify top barriers and brainstorm project solutions that reconnect their generation with the outdoors. Many ideas focused on the Campus Club model and the opportunity to connect college and high school students through outdoor experiences.

Outdoor Nation is an initiative of The Outdoor Foundation and was founded with initial support from The North Face, Recreational Boating and Fishing Foundation, The REI Foundation, The Conservation Fund and the National Park Service.

Contact: Ivan Levin - ilevin@outdoorfoundation.org

About The Outdoor Foundation
The Outdoor Foundation is a not-for-profit organization dedicated to inspiring and growing future generations of outdoor enthusiasts. Through groundbreaking research, action oriented outreach, and education programs, the Foundation works with partners to mobilize a major cultural shift that leads all Americans to the great outdoors. In 2010, the Foundation launched Outdoor Nation, a pioneering initiative that aims to empower youth to champion the outdoors on campuses and in communities across the United States. For more information visit: www.outdoorfoundation.org and www.outdoornation.org.

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