Regional summits, family ‘fun days’ to highlight 2011 Outdoor Nation agenda

A single 2010 Outdoor Nation event is mushrooming into a series of regional summits around the country this summer. Only SNEWS has the inside connection and scoop.

A passionate, energetic 2010 gathering of 500 youth from across the country in New York’s Central Park has spurred Outdoor Nation to higher peaks in 2011.

Not only will Outdoor Nation again gather a large group of youthful outdoor enthusiasts in Central Park in June, it will take the can-do message to five other cities across the country. Those regional summits -- New York City, Atlanta, Minneapolis, Denver and San Francisco –will also host a “Summer Fun Day” for anyone in the area to promote interest in the outdoors.

“What started as a spark in New York is about to catch fire across the country,” Chris Fanning, director of the Outdoor Foundation and organizer of Outdoor Nation, told SNEWS®. “We couldn’t be more excited to work with America’s State Parks as well as outdoor industry brands and local partners to engage youth and communities in regions throughout the U.S.”

The “Fun Days” will be co-hosted by America’s State Parks and other partners, including the National Park Service. Fanning said she hoped they will attract thousands of local residents who will be able to participate in a range of outdoor activities from kayaking to rock climbing. In addition, there will be a “family fun area” put on by Play Outdoors so parents and younger children can also have age-appropriate experiences.

“Last year we created one unified national outdoor agenda,” Stefanie Michaelson, a lead Outdoor Nation ambassador from Salt Lake City, told SNEWS. “This year we really get to dig in deeper with our summits and address the specific issues that matter most (to the youth). It's going to be an amazing and transformative summer.”

The second-annual New York City event, this year at the Aviator Sports and Event Center in the Gateway National Recreation Area, will draw at least one lead youth representative from each state. That National Summit will be June 23-24. It will be followed by the first Regional Summit, in New York, June 24-26. The first “fun day” of the season will be June 25.

Other regional summits now set are:

>> Atlanta (Clark Atlanta University): July 8-9; Summer Fun Day, July 9

>> Minneapolis (University of Minnesota-Twin Cities, Saint Paul): July 15-17; Summer Fun Day (Fort Snelling State Park), July 16 

>> Denver (Cherry Creek State Park): July 22-24; Summer Fun Day, July 23

>> San Francisco (The Presidio, Golden Gate National Recreation Area): July 29-31; Summer Fun Day, July 30

The goal of the regional summits is, per Outdoor Nation, “to bring together thousands of young people to identify top issues, brainstorm creative ideas and commit to taking action, individually and collectively.”

Local agencies and retailers can participate at the regional level in a number of ways, Fanning explained to SNEWS. For example, organizations can send one or more delegates, but they can also sponsor an activity during the Summer Fun Day, or staff can volunteer to help with the events and provide in-kind donations. Those interested in participating in some way can contact Chris Fanning by email,

“Outdoor Nation is building a youth-led movement and empowering a generation,” Lindsay Bourgoine, a lead Outdoor Nation Ambassador, said in a statement. “Thanks to our partners we will be able to bring Outdoor Nation into the states and communities this summer to address the real issues that are keeping people inside. Our community of ‘Outsiders’ will actively champion important causes like America’s State Parks – engaging new communities and inspiring new leadership across all 50 states.”

Outdoor Nation is supported by a group of more than 100 organizations from the public, private and not-for-profit sectors. The Summer Summit Series is sponsored by brands including The North Face, REI Foundation, Recreational Boating and Fishing Foundation, The Conservation Fund and National Park Service Merrell, Play Works, SmartWool, Mountain Hardwear, Eastern Mountain Sports, Johnson and Johnson and CIGNA.

For more information about Outdoor Nation, click here. For more information about the Outdoor Foundation, click here. For more information about America’s State Parks, click here.

Look for insider reports and stories from the Summer Summit Series in SNEWS, covered by our own SNEWS Youth Advisory & Reporting Team.

--Therese Iknoian

The SNEWS Youth Advisory & Reporting Team was founded over the summer of 2010 with the goal to give the youth a chance to explore writing, photography, videography, editing and other journalistic endeavors while also using those avenues to reach out to and influence more youth.

Funding for the youth team is provided in part by Vibram, with additional support by Confluence. To find out more about the SNEWS Youth Team and download an application, go to To see other Youth Team reporting and news, click here. To find out more about how your company can support, expand, and tap into the benefits of the SNEWS Youth Advisory & Reporting Team, email