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We are a growing NETWORK of local organizations using training and outdoor gear libraries to help connect kids to the outdoors across America. 

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The 2017 National Summit was the Best One Yet!

KYLE MACDONALD

New, best practices, an amazing Pacific Coast setting and some terrific new Coloradans highlight our 4th annual gathering of member organizations. 

Happy faces make up a growing network of people working to connect youth to the power of the outdoors. Pt. Bonita YMCA, Marin County, CA. 

Happy faces make up a growing network of people working to connect youth to the power of the outdoors. Pt. Bonita YMCA, Marin County, CA. 

After a great summit in Chicago in 2016, the network met back in the SF Bay Area in November 2017, for our 4th annual summit.  This year we attempted something that only a network can accomplish: A set of best practices, articulated and vetted, as a guide for all those employing this program model.  And while most of  these are the "inside baseball" type particulars that may seem less than exciting from the outside, the process used to come to agreement on these illuminated some really important reasons for why we do things the way we do them.  One Summit participant said 

Best practices was super helpful. It re-focused my priorities as I’m developing systems and policies.

We also heard from two member programs who are working towards incorporating practices that make them more inclusive.  The Appalachian Mountain Club, and Bay Area Wilderness Training shared their successes, and many challenges as they go about shifting the way they do their work, so that they might be as inclusive as possible.  BAWT has even changed its mission, vision and values to reflect their work to "dismantle racism, sexism, classism, and other forms of oppression that stand in the way of all people fully participating in outdoor activities".  Read BAWT's Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Statement here

Some morning, name game hilarity infused plenty of fun! 

The most useful thing the Summit provides to people is always a sense of community.  Because our member organizations are almost always the only agencies running gear libraries and training programs in their region, its incredibly helpful for staff to connect to other staff, to break down any feelings of isolation.  

Amazingly dedicated people from Boston, Detroit, Minneapolis, Chicago, Seattle, Denver, Leadville, Los Angeles and the Bay all came to contribute, and celebrate.  And celebrate we did.  The final night of the Summit was filled with a Lighthouse Tour and fundraising reception that turned out to be a huge success. 

I heard again and again "That was a special night!"  With inspiring words from Jose Gonzales, Founder of Latino Outdoors and Zatunde Morton, from Oakland's Ujima Foundation, people gave generously to help OEN raise $20,000 on the night! 

I felt very proud to be a part of it!

said one Summit participant. 

Me too! 

Thanks to everyone working, volunteering, contributing, to get young people outdoors!  And thanks to everyone for another terrific Outdoors Empowered Network Summit! 

For even more pictures from the Summit and the Outside Lights! Reception, visit our Facebook Page

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