The Student Conservation Association's Online Community
It was finally my turn! There have been a number of Outdoor Nation summits happening across the country that a number of my co-workers have had the chance to go to (you may have read about some of them in this blog or maybe had the chance to go to one), so my excitement level was pretty high when Boston Outdoor Nation happened this past weekend, July 21-22. It felt like I had been waiting for this day for ages!
We kicked off on Friday with an SCA-led service project on Peddocks Island, one of the Boston Harbor Islands (next time you are in Boston, check out these islands; they are amazing!). Our groups was over 60 people, and included members from our local Boston High School Community Program, current intern and corps members, alumni, SCA staff, and outdoor enthusiasts (who I may or may have not recruited to join SCA) who showed up to help get the island ready for a large event they were hosting that weekend. The weather has been super hot lately, so we lucked out with a cool day perfect to get outside and get dirty. We learned about the islands on our trip over, thanks to an NPS Ranger. Our groups removed brush and helped organize the debris into piles that could be composted or used later for chipping. They were seriously impressed with the hard work we did and all we were able accomplish in a short amount of time. One of the staff commented to my group that she has never seen the island look so good. Nice job, team!
We loaded up the van Saturday and headed over to ON. Enthusiasm was high and SCA presence was awesome: between staff, alumni, and current members, we had about 20 people there. After a morning talking about our goals for the summit and challenges keeping young people inside, groups were able to enjoy the sunshine and start brainstorming projects that will change that trend.
Late afternoon rolled around and it was time to load up the boat because we were camping at George's Island, another one of the Harbor Islands. Some people have gone camping many times over the years, while this was the first time for others, including some members in our group. After setting up tents and taking over the parade ground, it was campfire time, where we learned inspirational stories from Northface Athletes, learned about Leave No Trace, and of course, a ghost story from one of the Rangers there. The weather could not have been more perfect and talking, laughing, and the campfire went well into the night.
Sunday started a little early for me (I'm not much of a morning person!) and we loaded up the boat to head back to Boston (or, as I like to call it, the mainland). After a yummy breakfast and finalizing projects, it was time for presentations and voting. As you can imagine, SCA members have some pretty awesome ideas, and three groups with SCA representation on them were awarded at least $1000 to get the projects off the ground! These projects included: a website for the Boston Metropolitan area, which will make people aware of the vast array of outdoor opportunities available in their own communities to GET OUT of the house; an incentives program that will offer discounts at restaurants if you bike or use other alternative transportation; and a program devoted to urban gardening awareness, and connecting current urban gardening projects and resources.
Throughout the summit, there was a quiz to test our outdoor knowledge. My team was the only team there (and the first team at any of the summits!) to have 100% of our team members guess the correct answer for two separate questions. I guess I have learned a thing or two about the outdoors since my tenure at SCA.
There was also a career panel that SCA was able to speak on. A number of participants came up to me afterwards and said that SCA was exactly what they are looking for in a career, and that they were really excited to learn that we exist. Even after six seasons of recruiting, that never gets old to me.
When the summit ended, morale was high and people were excited to get their projects off the ground. The weekend was a success. I’m glad I had the opportunity to participate in such an amazing event and see such a strong representation of young people committed to the outdoors.
Be sure to check out the rest of my pictures from this weekend on my personal page here and leave comments!