Tag Archives: REI

DETROIT KIDS NEED THE OUTDOORS

guest post by Mark Naida – originally appeared in The Detroit News. This story features Detroit Outdoors, a collaborative effort supported by Detroit Parks and Rec, The Kresge Foundation, and OAK members Sierra Club, YMCA of Metropolitan Detroit, and REI.

Living in an urban environment, Detroiters often don’t get the same opportunities to enjoy the outdoors as other Michiganians.

Photo- Jac Kyle - Courtesy
(Photo: Jac Kyle / Courtesy)

So they miss out on learning the value of conservation and on understanding the possibilities of careers in fields which preserve and maintain natural spaces. Public land is part of our natural heritage, and should be accessible by every American, even those who live in the big city.

Welcome to Scout Hollow, Detroit’s only campground.

Red-Tailed Hawks soar overhead and Monarch butterflies float on the wind. The Rouge River meanders through 17.4 acres of pristine green space incongruously outlined by I-96 and the Southfield Freeway. Untamed woods cover 12 acres and the the other 5 are maintained for camp sites.

Established in 1939 for Boy Scouts, the last troop broke camp 10 years ago and nature overtook the site.

When Garrett Dempsey, program manager of Detroit Outdoors, first saw the campground, the only thing distinguishing it from wilderness was a set of steps covered by a fallen tree and flagpole that rose from the tall grass.

“Nature had a lease,” says Dempsey. “No one had mown in 10 years.”

Dempsey and Jac Kyle, outdoor education coordinator for the Detroit Parks and Recreation Department, put their energies toward the rehabilitation of the campground.

Private donations — a $200,000 grant from the Kresge Foundation, $20,000 from the Sierra Club, and $10,000 from REI, an outdoor outfitter — paid for the renovation.

Scout Hollow offers everything a group could want for a campout, including a gear library that lends tents, cook kits, and rain protection..

“In an urban area, you can easily forget about nature,” Dempsey says. “It is important to foster a connection with it. With this place, we have been able to take down barriers to camping.”

The closest other campground to Detroit is the Highland recreation area in White Lake.

Camping can bring peace to an otherwise bustling urban environment.

“If you think of the use of technology in kids lives today,” Kyle says, “it is hard to go 24 hours without a phone. This is a space where you can interact and not just be on the phone or watching television. We hang out by a fire and cook dinner together.”

Scout Hollow offers the very experiences in nature that the Outdoor Adventure Center, a museum to nature on the Detroit Riverwalk, tries to recreate.

We felt there was a need for more presence to creatively engage the urban community with the outdoors,” says Ron Olson, chief of Parks and Recreation for the Michigan DNR, which runs the outdoor center. “We hatched the idea of an experiential center where people could come and learn about the rest of the state and the outdoors.”

But then what? Once kids are excited about nature, they need an outlet to cultivate that passion. And that’s what Scout Hollow aims to do.

Now attention is turning to Belle Isle, Detroit’s largest outdoor park.

Olson says that after hosting a few camping events on Belle isle, the DNR has begun to consider building a permanent campground on the island. But the project is well down a priority list that is first addressing neglected areas of the island.

“We still have a lot to do to bring the park back up to snuff,” Olson says.

The DNR should keep its focus on providing hands-on outdoor opportunities for Detroiters, particularly children.

It can be done without breaking the budget. Scout Hollow was rehabilitated on a tight budget and with limited resources.

And it’s allowed Detroiters to camp under the stars without leaving the city.

mnaida@detroitnews.com

Outdoors Alliance for Kids Announces Inaugural OAK Leaf Awards

For Immediate Release

November 15, 2016

Contact: Jackie Ostfeld, jackie.ostfeld@sierraclub.org, 202-548-6584

Outdoors Alliance for Kids Announces Inaugural OAK Leaf Awards
REI, The North Face, National Park Trust, Children & Nature Network and National League of Cities honored for collaborative approach to getting kids outdoors

Washington, DC – Today, the Outdoors Alliance for Kids (OAK) announced five recipients of the inaugural OAK Leaf Award which recognizes alliance members for their collaborative approach to support OAK’s policy or programmatic goals. REI, The North Face, National Park Trust, Children & Nature Network and the National League of Cities to receive the award during an OAK welcome reception for the annual gathering of the alliance, held at The Wilderness Society’s Ansel Adams Gallery.

Statements of OAK’s Leaf Award Recipients

“At REI, we believe a life outdoors is a life well lived. This is an especially important thought when we consider the daily lives of our younger generations. Unlike years past, it seems we need to make special efforts to assure kids from all backgrounds have chances to explore, play and learn outside,” said Marc Berejka, REI’s director of community and government affairs. “We’ve been an OAK supporter from its beginning, because OAK provides pivotal leadership at the national level.  We appreciate the recognition, and also look forward to continuing our investment in high-impact programs like this one.”

“We are proud to partner with OAK and many wonderful nonprofits like the National Park Trust to support President Obama’s Every Kid in a Park initiative through our Explore Fund grants,” said The North Face senior director of Outdoor Exploration Ann Krcik. “By working together to bring outdoor experiences to youth, we hope to create the next generation of environmental stewards. Thank you OAK for this incredible honor.”

“National Park Trust is very honored to be recognized with an inaugural OAK Leaf Award. The Outdoors Alliance for Kids is a tremendous resource and network that has allowed us to significantly expand our mission of preserving parks today and creating park stewards for tomorrow. Working together with the members of this alliance, we are able each year to engage tens of thousands of students from Title 1 schools across the country with our iconic parks and public lands, providing transformational park experiences. OAK is an excellent example of the power of partnerships,” stated executive director of the National Park Trust, Grace Lee.

“The OAK Leaf award recognizes the dedication of our seven Cities Connecting Children to Nature pilot cities in their work to enrich young lives, strengthen stewardship of our natural world and achieve equity in American cities,” said National League of Cities CEO and executive director Clarence E. Anthony. “NLC is proud to receive this award on their behalf and continue our significant work together.” The CCCN cities have been working diligently for the past year to plan equitable and abundant access to nature for their communities. “We look forward to seeing the impact of the cities’ work on children, families and communities, and we are honored to partner with OAK in advancing the field of children and nature,” said Children & Nature Network executive director Sarah Milligan-Toffler.

“The Outdoors Alliance for Kids wouldn’t be what it is today without the passion of our members, new and old, large and small,” said OAK co-founder and chair, Jackie Ostfeld. “These awards couldn’t be more well-deserved. I look forward to continuing to work with this year’s OAK Leaf Award recipients to make major strides in the movement to get kids outdoors.”

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About the Outdoors Alliance for Kids (OAK): OAK is a national strategic partnership of organizations from diverse sectors with a common interest in connecting children, youth and families with the outdoors. The members of OAK are brought together by the belief that the wellness of current and future generations, the health of our planet and communities and the economy of the future depend on humans having a personal, direct and life-long relationship with nature and the outdoors. OAK brings together more than eighty businesses and organizations, led by a steering committee which includes representatives from the Alliance for Childhood, American Heart Association, Children & Nature Network, Latino Outdoors, National Recreation and Park Association, National Wildlife Federation, NatureBridge, The North Face, Public Lands Service Coalition (a program of The Corps Network), REI, Sierra Club, The Wilderness Society and the YMCA of the USA to address the growing divide between children, youth and the natural world. For more information: www.outdoorsallianceforkids.org

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First ever OAK Leaf Award Recipients. OAK Week 2016. Photo Credit: National Park Trust

RELEASE: OUTDOORS ALLIANCE FOR KIDS RECEIVES SUPPORT FROM CO-FOUNDER, REI

 

July 15, 2016

 

For Immediate Release

Contact: Brenna Muller, 202-548-4581, brenna.muller@sierraclub.org

Outdoors Alliance to Kids receives support from Co-Founder, REI

Washington, DC – The Outdoors Alliance for Kids (OAK) is honored to receive support from one of its founding steering committee members, REI. With a generous grant of $30,000, REI is ensuring OAK can continue to be an effective national advocate for equitable and readily available opportunities for children, youth and families to get outdoors.

“Extending our partnership with OAK reinforces REI’s commitment to connect our members and their families to inspiring outdoor places and programs,” said Taldi Walter, community affairs program manager for REI. “By working to further develop relationships with local and state agencies, OAK is showcasing its commitment to tackling relevant and important issues to get more children into the outdoors, yielding benefits for generations to come.”

“REI and the Sierra Club share the understanding that in order to build the next generation of outdoor enthusiasts and stewards, we need to first make sure our kids can get outdoors safely and frequently,” said Peter Martin, Executive Director of the Sierra Club Foundation, a fiscal sponsor of OAK. “The Sierra Club Foundation is pleased to support OAK’s work and to see the REI do the same. Together we can help bridge the divide between kids and nature.”

“As one of the founders of OAK, REI has been with us since the beginning. I am thrilled to see our partnership grow and deepen over the years to be better advocates for getting kids outdoors,” said Jackie Ostfeld, OAK’s Co-Founder and Chair. “On behalf of our growing alliance, I want to extend our deep gratitude to REI for believing in our vision and investing in OAK’s mission that is now shared by over 85 members.”

REI (Recreational Equipment, Inc.) is a national outdoor gear and clothing retailer and a member of OAK’s Steering Committee. REI is committed to stewardship and giving back to its members, employees and communities. Find out more about REI’s stewardship efforts.

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About the Outdoors Alliance for Kids (OAK): OAK is a national strategic partnership of organizations from diverse sectors with a common interest in connecting children, youth and families with the outdoors. The members of OAK are brought together by the belief that the wellness of current and future generations, the health of our planet and communities and the economy of the future depend on humans having a personal, direct and life-long relationship with nature and the outdoors. OAK brings together more than eighty businesses and organizations, led by a steering committee which includes representatives from the Alliance for Childhood, American Heart Association, Children & Nature Network, Latino Outdoors, National Recreation and Park Association, National Wildlife Federation, NatureBridge, The North Face, Public Lands Service Coalition (a program of The Corps Network), REI, Sierra Club, The Wilderness Society and the YMCA of the USA to address the growing divide between children, youth and the natural world. For more information: www.outdoorsallianceforkids.org

Outdoors Alliance for Kids Receives Support from Co-Founder, REI

guest blog by Sierra Club’s Nearby Nature Director and OAK’s Chair Jackie Ostfeld

I am pleased to announce that one of the founders of the Outdoors Alliance for Kids (OAK), REI, recently announced support for the Alliance with a gift of $30,000. The grant will help OAK meet our mission to connect children, youth and families with the outdoors.

Just over four years ago, before OAK was OAK, when we were just eight passionate people scheming in a room together about how we were going to help support and grow a national voice to advocate for getting youth outdoors, REI was there. REI has been with OAK from the beginning and I am thrilled to see how much this partnership has grown and deepened in just a few years. I want to extend my deep gratitude to REI for investing in OAK’s mission that is now shared by 75 organizations.

REI is dedicated to “inspiring, educating and outfitting its members and the community for a lifetime of outdoor adventure and stewardship.” OAK will help REI meet its mission by addressing the growing divide between children, youth, families and the outdoors with decision-makers at the federal, state and local levels. Through this grant, OAK will educate leaders at all levels and advocate for administrative policies directed at getting children, youth and families outdoors with a focus on education, community health and wellness, and environmental stewardship. We’ll deepen partnerships with federal agencies to coordinate, leverage and expand opportunities to get young people outside. We’ll take our work to the state and local level with the recently developed ECHO (Every Child Healthy Outdoors) Across America Toolkit. (Learn more about the ECHO Across America Toolkit by watching our online Webinar). And we’ll grow and broaden our membership.

“Extending our partnership with OAK reinforces REI’s commitment to connect our members and their families to inspiring outdoor places and programs,” said Taldi Walter, community affairs program manager for REI. “By working to further develop relationships with local and state agencies, OAK is showcasing its commitment to tackling relevant and important issues to get more children into the outdoors, yielding benefits for generations to come.”

“As OAK’s fiscal sponsor, The Sierra Club Foundation is pleased to see the growing and deepening commitment from REI to address the divide between kids and nature,” said Peter Martin, Executive Director of the Sierra Club Foundation. “REI and the Sierra Club share the understanding that in order to build the next generation of outdoor enthusiasts and stewards, we need to first make sure our kids can get outdoors safely and frequently.”

Sierra Club is one of several organizations including the American Heart Association, Children & Nature Network, Izaak Walton League of America, National Recreation and Park Association, National Wildlife Federation, The North Face, Public Lands Service Coalition (a program of The Corps Network), REI, The Wilderness Society and the YMCA of the USA that make up OAK’s leadership. The members of OAK are brought together by the belief that the wellness of current and future generations, the health of our planet and communities and the economy of the future depend on humans having a personal, direct and life-long relationship with nature and the outdoors. On behalf of all the members of the Outdoors Alliance for Kids, here’s a big THANK YOU to REI for your investment in this important work!

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REI partners with OAK during Great Outdoors America Week 2014 to teach local kids how to rock climb.