Outdoor Nation Selects Universities to Compete in First Ever Outdoor Campus Challenge


Fueled by The North Face, this initiative invests in the innovative ideas of college and university students across America working to activate a new generation of outdoor participants and champions.

June 3, (Washington DC) - As the semester draws to a close, many university students are packing their bags and heading out for some summer fun. Students at ten colleges and universities across the US are gearing up for the outdoor challenge of their lives; coming up with innovative strategies to help them win the title of ‘most outdoorsy campus’ in the Outdoor Nation Campus Challenge.

The Challenge, fueled by The North Face, was developed to combat some of today’s bleak statistics around young people and outdoor participation. Current research tells us young people spend 50 percent less time outdoors in natural settings than the generation that preceded them. More than 80 percent of Americans live in urban areas and only 20 percent of young people live within a half-mile of a park or open space.

In response, Outdoor Nation launched the first-ever Outdoor Nation Campus Challenge -- working with colleges and universities across America to get more young people outside and active. This week, Outdoor Nation and The North Face selected ten schools who will go head-to-head in the fall, competing to see who can get the most people in their student bodies and surrounding communities outside and active. Think Mother Nature meets March Madness.

"College students are among the most creative, innovative and influential group of people in our country today,” said Chris Fanning executive director of the Outdoor Foundation. "Over the past several years, these young leaders have emerged as the drivers behind Outdoor Nation and the Campus Challenge builds on our investment in these change makers and thought leaders. If we are truly going to inspire a new generation of outdoor enthusiasts – the ideas and energy must come from them."

During the eight-week Outdoor Nation Campus Challenge, participating individuals at each school will self-report on their outdoor activities through an interactive online platform powered by ContestCore. The school that logs the most activities outside at the end of the competition will win a valuable prize package, scholarship for an outdoor program assistant, a custom gear library, an outdoor festival for all students, and valuable bragging rights. An individual achievement award, 'Outsider of the Year', will also be given to the student that inspires the most people to get outdoors.

"We are excited to see the fresh, unique ideas that these young leaders develop to share their passion for the outdoors and ultimately find better ways to connect people and nature," said Ann Krcik, director of Outdoor Exploration at The North Face. "There is no better way to address the issue of getting more people outside than to learn from the brightest minds of the next generation for a new perspective and creative solutions."

Spelman College, a Historically Black College and University (HBCU) in Atlanta, Ga. is among the schools selected to compete in the Outdoor Nation Campus Challenge - an especially impressive feat given that just two years ago they didn’t have an outdoor club. Spelman was first introduced to Outdoor Nation In 2011, when two committed and passionate students, Candice Gaul and Seth Wolf from Spelman and Morehouse Colleges respectively, attended an Outdoor Nation Summit.

The following year, Candice and Seth worked hard to shift the culture on their college campuses to incorporate more of a focus on outdoor engagement. They received training, support and mentorship from Outdoor Nation to do so. Their work culminated in the summer of 2013, when they organized the first student-run Outdoor Nation Summit in Atlanta, bringing together more than 30 students to discuss the unique challenges of building outdoor communities of color. An idea sparked and the first-of-its-kind joint outdoor club was formed called, the “Spelhouse Outdoor Club”. This groundbreaking project expanded the outdoor network for hundreds of students from these two HBCUs to experience ongoing outdoor activities, many for the first time.

“Today, our outdoor programs are so popular among students that our outings fill up in less than an hour,” said Candice. “What started as culture void of outdoor recreation has flourished into one that is eager for outdoor engagement opportunities of all kinds. We’re thrilled to now be in the running with nine other colleges to see if we have what it takes to win the title of most outdoorsy university in America.” 

Seth and Candice graduated and a new crop of strong leaders will be heading up the Outdoor Nation Campus Challenge at Spelman. They plan to focus on health and wellness by inviting the community on a 3k walk/run around the city of Atlanta. Other plans include hosting a mass yoga event, participating in park cleanups, maintaining a community garden, and throwing After Dark Picnics that connect students from other HBCUs in the area to their thriving outdoor network - including them in the challenge.

Other schools selected to compete in the 2014 Campus Challenge include: Appalachian State University, California State University, Long Beach, College of Saint Benedict and Saint John's University, George Mason University, James Madison University, Michigan Technological University, University of Central Florida, University of Iowa and University of Wisconsin-Madison. For more information, visit outdoornation.org.


About the Outdoor Foundation & Outdoor Nation

The Outdoor Foundation is a not-for-profit organization dedicated to inspiring and growing future generations of outdoor enthusiasts. Through groundbreaking research, action oriented outreach, and education programs, the Foundation works with partners to mobilize a major cultural shift that leads all Americans to the great outdoors. In 2010, the Foundation launched Outdoor Nation, a pioneering initiative that aims to empower young leaders to champion the outdoors on campuses and in communities across the United States. For more information visit: OutdoorFoundation.org and OutdoorNation.org.


Explore FB Ad_1200x628

Ten Universities Compete in First-Ever Outdoor Nation Campus Challenge

Ten Universities Compete in First-Ever Outdoor Nation Campus Challenge Fueled by The North Face, the Outdoor Nation Campus Challenge invests in college students’ ideas and ingenuity to combat the inactivity trend among young people. For the first time ever, 10 universities ...read more


Outdoor Nation Launches the First-Ever Campus Challenge – Engaging College Students in a Major Campaign to Increase Outdoor Participation

Outdoor Nation, the signature program of the Outdoor Foundation, in partnership with The North Face, is launching the first-ever Outdoor Nation Campus Challenge -- working with colleges and universities across America to get more young people outside and active. For the next ...read more

NE Campus Challenge_FINAL_no parts-01[5]

The Outdoor Foundation and the National Park Service Launch Northeast Campus Clubs Program – Expanding Investment in College and University Students

Building on the Foundation’s work with college communities, the NE Campus Clubs program will invest in the best ideas driven by colleges and universities that increase outdoor participation. Outdoor Nation, the signature program of Outdoor Foundation in partnership with the ...read more

National Park Service and Outdoor Foundation Announce New Partnership to Invest in Projects that Connect More Americans to the Outdoors

Through the Challenge Cost Share Program, the partners will leverage an investment of nearly $400,000 with matching resources to support local nonprofit projects. The National Park Service and the Outdoor Foundation announced a partnership to connect more Americans with the ...read more

Outdoor Nation, Leading Paddle Companies , Outdoor Retailer, NPS, Announce the Launch of the Paddle Nation Grants

Today Outdoor Nation, a national initiative that reconnects millennials to the outdoors; top paddle-sport manufacturers, retailers and stakeholders; Outdoor Retailer; and the National Park Service announced the opening of the 2014 Paddle Nation Grants. This initiative, in its ...read more

Outdoor Retailer Selects Students to Compete in Project OR

SAN JUAN CAPISTRANO, Calif. - April 26, 2010- Outdoor Retailer announced today the students selected to participate in the fifth edition of "Project OR" during Outdoor Retailer Summer Market 2010 at the Salt Palace Convention Center in Salt Lake City, Utah, August 3-6. Summer ...read more


OIA and Outdoor Foundation Launch Industry-Wide Competition to Challenge Outdoor Businesses and Compete to Get the Most Kids Outside

OIA and Outdoor Foundation Launch Industry-Wide Competition to Challenge Outdoor Businesses and Compete to Get the Most Kids Outside The ‘What Region Rocks?’ campaign challenges outdoor companies and employees to support Parks4Kids projects in their region; winner gets bragging ...read more

Outdoor Nation Launches Paddle Nation Project Grants

Today, Outdoor Nation, a national initiative that reconnects millennials to the outdoors, began accepting applications for Paddle Nation Project Grants that connect young Americans to their waterways through recreational paddling. This initiative, in its second year, will award ...read more

Periscope Signs on as the Outdoor Foundation’s Outsiders Ball Agency of Record

Periscope supports the Ball as CEO Greg Kurowski joins the Outdoor Foundation’s board of directors, bringing his strategic branding insights to the overall efforts of the Foundation and Outdoor Nation.  The Outdoor Foundation, the charitable arm of the Outdoor Industry ...read more