Before the Outdoor Nation Youth Summit in NYC last year, I wasn’t a leader. I was a quiet dreamer. I had visions about changing the world and connecting people with the outdoors, but I was afraid to get anything started. Afraid to be in charge. Too shy to speak up. I was afraid to fail.
I didn’t know what to expect when I arrived at the summit, but what I found was 500 youth committed to making a difference. Many were even younger than I was and they didn’t seem afraid. They were already making a difference in their communities and they weren’t failing, if only because they were trying! They were more worried about NOT making a difference at all. So I shared my ideas with these leaders and we all brainstormed together. Some of that killer brain mixture must have leaked into my head somehow, because I left the Summit with more confidence and hope than I’ve ever had!
Today, I organize new ways to bring Outsiders together online to have both fun and important conversations about the things they care about. I’m also volunteering with America’s State Parks to grow a youth advisory team to advocate for Utah State Parks. And guess who my state parks partner in crime is? Maren Nilsen, a friend and fellow Outsider who I met at the Summit last year. Sure I haven't always done things right this year, but I keep trying and keep making new friends.
Here are some of the other amazing people I met at the summit last year: Jonathan, Dan, Meagan, Nichole, Jeevitha, Ranjitha, Zoe, Emily, Lindsay, that guy who walked to the porta-potties with me (I wish I could remember your name!), Anthony, Chris, Brett & Matt (who went with me to Serendipity 2 afterward and we got frozen hot chocolate), other Chris, that guy who almost did a flip off a tree, Ben, other Stefanie, Sierra, Sasha, the Morsel Munk folks, Gina (the girl who took this photo of me with a butterfly on my hat), the “I am a tall, tall tree guy” (remember him?!) and so many more since then.
I remember arriving at the Outdoor Nation Youth Summit in New York City in June last year. I went alone and didn’t really know what to expect. This year, you can’t keep me away from the Denver Summit! I’ll be there and I won’t be alone.
What can you expect at the Youth Summits this year?? (from a Summit veteran)
Expect to make friends (it’s unavoidable!).
Expect to have a good time (inevitable).
Expect to be heard. (Your unique perspective is incredibly important!)
Expect to leave with a clear vision of how you personally will make a huge difference and the knowledge that you have an entire Outdoor Nation of support backing you up!
Learn more about the Outdoor Nation Youth Summits and apply here!