Over 500 youth from across the Nation met in Central Park in New York City this past weekend to discuss opportunities and new ideas to inspire more people to go outside and seek active, adventurous lives – just like our Backwoods Mission Statement. This was a unique experience and the first of its kind. Thank you to Backwoods and Osprey for sponsoring a delegate and myself to attend this phenomenal event – Outdoor Nation Youth Summit.
The delegate we sponsored is Dezi Howard from Cape Girardeau, Missouri and I had the privilege of meeting him in NYC. Armed with his Osprey Halo daypack and small duffel he set off to the big city for this energetic gathering of his peers. Dezi had a smile as wide as the state of Texas and full of excitement to be involved with the first ever Outdoor Nation Youth Summit.
This Summit gathering consisted of youth from all 50 states and Canada to discuss their ideas with each other on the following issues:
- Cultural Diversity and the Outdoors
- Education and Recreation – Redefining the Outdoors
- Health and Active Living
- Media and Culture
- Green Jobs and Outdoor Careers
Each table in this huge tent in Central Park was focused on one of the issues above and generated suggestions to share with their peers for voting. Each suggestion was presented to all the delegates where they were immediately able to vote on the importance level to them via a hand held electronic survey device that was used throughout the event. The delegates were able to see their results immediately and they were even able to sort the results by age, gender, location and race. During this two-day Youth Summit, President Barack Obama’s staff were also present and actively involved in hearing what the delegates had to say.
Outdoor Nation Youth Summit was supported by the Outdoor Foundation and a coalition of more than 50 organizations. This event focused on outdoor activities and advocacy to help raise awareness about the vital role the outdoors and recreational activities play in leading active, healthy lifestyles. More than $300,000 in funds were announced during this Summit to support concepts generated by the youth delegates.
It was exciting to be involved with such a revolutionary type of event that is promoting people to go outside and seek active, adventurous lives. Following this event, Dezi was inspired to head back to Missouri and encourage more people to use the local parks in Cape Girardeau. He has several ideas already spinning in his head and is anxious to make a difference in his community. We will check back with Dezi in the months to come to see what progress he has made in inspiring his community to seek active, adventurous lifestyles.
The world needs more people like Dezi and the delegates that attended the Outdoor Nation Youth Summit, who are excited and motivated to make a difference.