Atlanta (May 15) --- A year-long effort by students at Spelman and Morehouse and other colleges in Atlanta has created new opportunities for college and high school students to collaborate on monthly outdoor activities not generally accessible to them. As part of a pilot project of Outdoor Nation, these students have established a Campus Club program that serves as lead mentors for the high schools -- recruiting peers, leading outdoor outings, organizing meetings, and assessing progress.
Two outdoor enthusiasts, Candice Gaul from Spelman College and Seth Wolf from Morehouse College, were among 27 college students selected nationwide as Outdoor Nation Campus Fellows to launch and organize the Campus Club program. Outdoor Nation is pioneering new ways for young people to redefine and rediscover the outdoors through its unique approach of training, empowering and activating Millennials so ‘youth can lead youth” to outdoor activities.
"We got involved because we just plain like being outdoors and wanted to share our enthusiasm with others," said Candice Gaul. "So many of my peers and high schoolers in this digital age have become increasingly alienated from the natural world and we want to use our Campus Club to help move them a bit out of their indoor, plugged-in comfort zone," she added.
"An important goal of Outdoor Nation is to help develop and support youth-driven outdoor programs that then create a new core of young leaders supporting outdoor activities and resources," said Chris Fanning, executive director of the Outdoor Foundation, which created Outdoor Nation in 2011.
Activities organized by the Morehouse-Emory Campus Club have ranged from canoeing, rock climbing, hiking, OTHER?? When the Campus Club returns in the fall, it will host an Outdoor Summit.
In Atlanta, Outdoor Nation is working with students from Morehouse, Spelman, Emory University as well as high-school aged youth from the Next Steps Youth Entrepreneur Program. Other local partners include The Georgia Conservancy and students from Southern Polytechnic University and Georgia Tech to support a new outdoor club at Grady High School in northeast Atlanta.
"What we do is great fun, but it also has implications for our overall health and fitness, spiritual and mental health, and for the environment," said Seth Wolf.
Among the goals for the Campus Clubs are expanding the capacity of youth to act independently and in teams, educating youth on the values of America's natural and cultural resources, develop advocates for greater participation in outdoor activities, and advocate for expanded protection and opportunities in America's great outdoors.
Since the Campus Club was launched two years ago 13 colleges and universities have established Outdoor Nation Campus Clubs, 27 OUTDOOR NATION FELLOWS have been selected, they have organized 33 outdoor activities, and engaged 16 high schools in the Outdoor Nation Campus Clubs program.
Outdoor Nation, launched in 2010 by a partnership of The Outdoor Foundation, Recreational Boating and Fishing Foundation, The REI Foundation, the National Park Service, and The North Face, provides leadership training, grants, and youth-directed summits to create new advocates for outdoor activities and stimulate community-based programs.