New York, NY (June 23, 2011) -- Outdoor Nation, the youth-led movement championing the outdoors launched last year in Central Park, is returning to New York this week to kick off its 2011 series of Youth Summits in Brooklyn's Floyd Bennett Field. Faced with the gloomy reality that for many reasons—access, cultural relevance, education, time—America’s youth is losing touch with the outdoors resulting in adverse effects to the population and to the outdoor places themselves, Outdoor Nation is empowering the Millennial generation to address the issue head-on and develop their own solutions to these challenges.
“Outdoor Nation provides a chance to connect with America’s young people and encourage them to take advantage of the superb recreational, job, and service opportunities on our public lands and waters,” said Secretary of the Interior Ken Salazar. “Last year’s kick-off event in Central Park was a great success, and we look forward to participating in additional youth summits this summer and finding ways to better connect America’s youth to the Great Outdoors.”
The Outdoor Nation Summits begin on Thursday, June 23rd with a National Congress representing all 50 States, followed by three-day regional Youth Summits in New York City, Atlanta, Minneapolis, Denver and San Francisco from June 24 through July 31, 2011. There is also a special one-day satellite summit planned in Laramie, Wyoming preceding the Denver Summit. Outdoor Nation delegates are a diverse group of youth leaders aged 16 to 28, chosen from online applications as well as nominations from partners. More than 1,300 delegates are expected to participate in person with thousands more tuning in online at OutdoorNation.org.
“We’re back, and we’ve grown in both size and enthusiasm for our cause,” said 24 year-old Lindsay Bourgoine, Outdoor Nation’s lead ambassador from Portland, Maine. “We’ve also grown in resolve to find solutions to the national and local issues that are keeping people indoors.”
The National Congress will be tasked with drafting a statement of Outdoor Rights and Responsibilities and focus their attention on ways youth can address pressing national issues ranging from environmental literacy, childhood obesity, and the future of America’s State Parks. Earlier this year, Outdoor Nation named America’s State Parks its national partner and top cause for 2011 because of their unmatched importance in America’s outdoor recreation.
"America’s State Parks are proud to be the national partner of Outdoor Nation and named by the ‘Outsiders’ as their top cause for 2011, " said Joe Elton, president of the National Association of State Park Directors and Director of Virginia State Parks. "Outdoor Nation is attracting and inspiring the best and the brightest young outdoor enthusiasts and advocates in each state, and drawing their attention and support as champions for America’s parks at a time when they are experiencing record visitation and challenged by the impact of the nation’s economic recession."
During each regional summit, delegates will discuss regional issues and brainstorm project ideas that will remove barriers to participation and ultimately engage more young people in the outdoors. They will also gain direct exposure, through speakers and targeted sessions, to some of the most transformative national campaigns going on in the country including America’s Great Outdoors, Let’s Move Outside and the campaign for America’s State Parks. The top ideas in each region will be determined by democratic vote. The Outdoor Foundation will invest more than $100,000 this summer in youth-driven projects—$50,000 for the best ideas from the Summits and $50,000, made possible with support from the National Park Service’s Rivers and Trails and Conservation Assistance National Programs, to support and help implement the America’s Great Outdoors initiative.
“The President’s America’s Great Outdoors initiative and the First Lady’s Let’s Move Outside! initiative teach and open up access for our nation’s youth to reap the many benefits of outdoor recreation – from improved mental and physical health, to better academic performance and reduced stress,” said Nancy Sutley, chair of the White House Council on Environmental Quality. “Outdoor Nation is advancing this goal by empowering thousands of young leaders across America to strengthen the connection between health and the outdoors in their communities.”
“One signature difference in the Outdoor Nation approach is that we are investing in project ideas that come directly from young leaders. The passion and creativity of this generation is really only matched by their incredible ability to mobilize their peers around issues they care about,” said Chris Fanning, executive director of the Outdoor Foundation. “With the help of our sponsors, we are very proud that this year, in addition to funding for activation grants, we will also be able to offer each delegate expanded training in key areas of project management, fundraising and partnerships, advocacy, communications and leadership development.”
Support for Outdoor Nation is generously provided by the Outdoor Foundation and, national presenting sponsors, The North Face, The REI Foundation and The Conservation Fund.
"We are extremely proud to be a founding partner of this groundbreaking initiative, bringing young leaders together to share their passion for the outdoors and ultimately find better ways to connect people and nature,” said Ann Krcik, director of outdoor participation at The North Face. “By connecting our athletes with these young leaders at this weekend’s events in New York, we hope to inspire and enable the next generation of outdoor explorers and conservationists."”
“The REI Foundation works to connect more people to the outdoors and Outdoor Nation provides a unique focus on empowering young adults to lead this movement,” said Mike Collins, president of The REI Foundation. “We are excited to see Outdoor Nation grow and expand the effort to more cities around the country.”
Outdoor Nation wouldn’t have the appeal that it does with the Millennial generation if it was all work and no play. Tied to every Regional Summit, Outdoor Nation will co-host a Summer Fun Day celebration in a nearby park to highlight the incredible range of outdoor recreation opportunities—from kayaking, to rock climbing, to a family fun area—that are available to us close to home. These events are free for the community and are expected to attract thousands of local residents. More information can be found at SummerFunDay.org.
The 2011 Outdoor Nation Youth Summits are presented by The North Face, The REI Foundation and The Conservation Fund, and supported by many other notable organizations including Recreational Boating and Fishing Foundation, America’s State Parks, the National Park Service, Merrell, Play Outdoors, CamelBak, SmartWool, Osprey, the U.S.D.A. Forest Service, Mountain Hardwear, Eastern Mountain Sports, Johnson and Johnson, CIGNA, S.D. Bechtel, Jr. Foundation, Circadence, Clark Atlanta University, Georgia State Parks, Colorado State Parks, Minnesota Department of Natural Resources, Wyoming State Parks, The Presidio Trust, The Crissy Field Center, The Sierra Club, the Student Conservation Association and more than 100 invested organizations from the public, private and not-for-profit sectors.
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.