A Nation of Youth

There we were: a mass of twenty something’s, all under a big white tent, our sights on the beach and the weekend ahead of us.

As a delegate through MHYC, as well as an ambassador for ASPEN, my outdoor education capstone project, I didn’t quite know what to expect at the Outdoor Nation Youth Summit. But I’ve found that this is the best way to go into things lately, without any preconceptions. I think this mentality yields the best results for anything we do.
I can only imagine how much fun it must be for the Outdoor Nation to travel across the country as a band of revolutionaries, getting young adults stoked about their jobs and their futures in the outdoors, and even throwing a few new pairs of Merrell shoes at ‘em in the process.

We got right to work when we arrived Friday morning. The hundred and fifty plus delegates were responsible for identifying actions we should take as individuals working in the outdoor realm. This included a draft of an Outdoor Nation Declaration, which outlined our commitment and priorities as outdoor leaders, educators, conservationists, etc., which would soon be submitted as a Special Report on America’s Great Outdoors for President Obama.
Pretty cool, right? Check out the ever-evolving draft of our Outdoor Nation Declaration.
The next day we got our gears cranking even more. We split up into groups to come up with what regional outdoor issues we have and some program ideas to try and mitigate them. A lot of the day was spent coming up with ideas to get children outdoors (much of the basis for Outdoor Nation, as well as ASPEN and other outdoor education schools around the country, comes from a book (and philosophy on “Nature Deficit Disorder”) by Richard Louv called “The Last Child in the Woods”). And to stoke the fire even more, the top ideas would receive $2,500 each (four from Denver), as well as other grant opportunities in the coming months.
By the evening time we were all pretty tired. And accomplished, too. From full bellies of food to the kayaking and rock wall climbing to tent-setup competitions to campfire talks from the North Face ambassador’s incredible stories, I hunkered down in a crowded tent city with a clear sky of constellations hanging out above me.


Sunday morning came and it was time to leave the beach and wave goodbye to the delegates that came all the way from Texas and Montana. But not before we voted on the top program ideas and awarded them a hefty amount of seed money to get their project going. What was most startling was how Outdoor Nation was able to provide us with connections between different states and how easy it was to collaborate ideas for such diverse regions. I’m excited to begin helping out with programs here and abroad as well as take some of the ideas for my own outdoor education program in Denver.
Let’s all be outside together.
~David Cumming, ACLC ’10

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