Outdoor Nation, a national initiative that connects college students and their communities to the outdoors, is now sponsored by both The North Face and The REI Foundation and has officially opened its 2015 Campus Challenge registration — inviting colleges and universities across the US to sign up their schools to participate in the nationwide competition to get the most people recreating outdoors. The six-week, head-to-head competition will take place in September and determine the National Outdoor Champion in a Mother-Nature-meets-March-Madness-style contest.
The 2015 Campus Challenge is looking to engage 50 colleges – rewarding those schools with the most outdoor activities logged by the most people in their campus network (students, faculty, alumni and local community). The school with the most participants and outdoor activities will be named the National Outdoor Champion and the overall top individuals will be recognized as the Outsiders of the Year.
The Challenge was started in 2014 to help combat the inactivity crisis prevalent among youth and young adults in America. The statistics are staggering. According to the Kaiser Family Foundation, the average young person today spends 8 hours in front of a screen and only 8 minutes outside and active.
“After high school, even the most active young people can begin to slow down as they move away from organized, hometown sports,” noted Marc Berejka, president of The REI Foundation. “We, at REI, believe a life outdoors is a life well-lived, and the Campus Challenge helps introduce and inspire young people to incorporate outdoor adventure into their college and post-grad lives.”
“More than ever, people need opportunities to connect with and explore the natural world,” said Ann Krcik, senior director of Outdoor Exploration at The North Face. “We are excited to be a founding partner of this groundbreaking initiative, and even more so to see the positive results of so many young people getting outdoors.”
Last year, in its pilot program, the Campus Challenge engaged ten colleges and universities. In just eight weeks, 8,390 participants logged almost 44,000 outdoor activities, with many schools reporting a major surge in campus-wide interest in outdoor recreation. Many outdoor programs and outing club members served as organizers for the Challenge — planning school-wide activities, promoting individual participation and introducing new outdoor activities to spark interest.
“The Outdoor Nation Campus Challenge demonstrates the extraordinary power and potential that college students have to motivate and mobilize their peers to get active outdoors,” said Chris Fanning, executive director of the Outdoor Foundation, the organization that founded the Outdoor Nation initiative. “Following last year’s tremendous success, we are thrilled to engage more college campuses, activate more young people and ultimately get more Americans into the great outdoors.”
The 2015 Campus Challenge is looking to engage 50 colleges and activate 75,000 young people in outdoor recreation. Register for the Challenge from now through May 1, 2015. The competition will kick off in early September at the start of the fall semester.
The winner of the 2014 competition was the College of Saint Benedict and Saint John’s University (CSB/SJU) in Collegeville, Minnesota. The university received a gear bank, sponsored by The North Face, that includes technical packs, tents, sleeping bags and more. The school also held a campus-wide celebration to honor their accomplishment.
The REI Foundation and The North Face were announced as presenting partners, continuing their major support of Outdoor Nation, which is an initiative of the Outdoor Foundation.
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.