Our Outdoor Nation Youth Summit report!

(Photo borrowed from OutdoorAfro.com)

BCM alumna Lauren Chapman, who first experienced the outdoors on a Big City Mountaineers 7-day backpacking trip, attended the Outdoor Nation Youth Summit on June 19th and 20th, part of a delegation sponsored by Mountain Hardwear. Here’s what Lauren had to say:

Which discussion was the most interesting to you? Why?
The most interesting discussion for me was Cultural Diversity & The  Outdoors. This topic was attractive to me because as a person of color myself, I know that there is a lack of interest among other people of color and I honestly believe that that is due to lack of resources and information. The Census Bureau calculates that by 2050, a majority of the U.S. will be people of color and it would be a shame to have such a large population uninformed about the outdoors.

When you left the conference and got back on a plane what were you thinking about?
This event was truly eye-opening to the work that needs to be done as well as the funds that need to be raised, but refreshing in the sense that we have the manpower as well as hope. I am truly grateful for the opportunities that BCM and Mountain Hardwear have afforded me. The experiences that I have had in the outdoors have indeed given me the strength and skills I need to function in the city. The impact that (the outdoors) has had on my life is at times hard to put into words and it is my hope that these experiences and opportunities will be available to all urban youth around the nation.

Imagine you are giving advice to a 10-year-old girl from Chicago. What would you tell her about the conference and the goals for the future?
In response to a 10-year-old girl from Chicago, the most important advice I could give and probably the most valuable would be to just go outside and play. If there is a local rec center or community center, go and get involved the best way you can. Any change that is going to happen immediately (and these will in turn cause long-term effects) must start within the community with the children. If there isn’t community involvement, then there will be no need for corporate and or federal involvement. It only takes one, and that one engages their friends and then they engage their friends and so on. It doesn’t take a lot, little things like going for a walk at night or having a Saturday cleanup at the park. The goals for the conference include raising money for more recreational programs for children but there has to be in-house clean up from the community first.

Lauren first experienced the outdoors on a Big City Mountaineers 5-day backpacking trip. She is currently a junior at Colorado State University and a leader for BCM trips introducing inner city kids to the outdoors.

Some highlights from the summit, from Outdoor Foundation Executive Director Christine Fanning:

The Outdoor Nation Youth Summit was the largest and most diverse youth-attended, outdoor-focused event in America’s history. For the first time, more than 500 young leaders from across the country joined together to address the growing disconnect between young people and the outdoors. Over the two-day event, Delegates set a national outdoor agenda, outlined priorities and actions and ultimately launched a youth-driven Outdoor Nation movement. Many of you were able to attend, but for those who couldn’t below are some highlights. Also, you can find follow up materials online at Outdoor Nation.

Outdoor Nation Youth Summit Highlights:

•    Selected from more than 1,000 applications, 500 of America’s top young leaders — from Alaska to Puerto Rico, Mississippi to New Hampshire — joined together for a the first-ever National Outdoor Youth Summit
•    Outdoor Nation Delegates outlined top youth-led ideas, priorities and solutions while the Outdoor Nation Ambassadors developed an Outdoor Nation Declaration – both are posted on http://www.outdoornation.org
•    The Youth Summit was an official “America’s Great Outdoors” listening session – drawing top Obama administration officials from the Department of Interior, Department of Agriculture, Department of Labor and Center for Environmental Quality

-Brendan

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