Q: Where do great outdoor ideas come from?
A: The next generation of outdoor lovers.
This year, MEC Outdoor Nation – a program to inspire, engage and connect young Canadians to get active outdoors – hosted 143 people at two unforgettable weekends in Toronto and Montreal. Dubbed the Think Outside Summits, these weekends were about developing new ideas about how to get the next generation outside.
Between paddleboard and yoga sessions, slackline breaks and bike rides, MEC Ambassadors Kalob Grady and Hugues Fournel talked social media and emceed, and event partners Burton, United by Blue, Tentree and Prana provided awesome giveaways. After a campfire hang and live tunes, everyone camped out under the stars.
The most important part? Everyone shared their ideas, took part in workshops and pitched their final projects to a panel of experts for the chance to win up to $5000 in funding from MEC, plus a $750 product prize from Burton for the project that best incorporated sustainability.
The vibe of the weekends was off-the-charts passionate, collaborative and inspiring, as those who came can attest:
So, which groups got their big ideas funded? And who should you keep an eye out for in 2017? Read on to find out:
Mood Walks for Youth in Transition
Ontario-wide program Mood Walks promotes hiking as a way for youth to improve both physical and mental health by combining physical activity, time in nature and socialization. As a program of the Canadian Mental Health Association, Ontario Division, Mood Walks also provides training and support to community mental health organizations as they launch educational hiking programs for young people who are at risk of, or experiencing mental illness. Join them for the 2017 Mood Walks Summit in Toronto, February 25 and 26.
Les Chèvres De Montagne
Les Chèvres de Montagne is a group of women who organize outdoor trips and activities to get more young women outside and active. They inspire women from all walks of life to try new outdoor activities, such as mountain biking, climbing, canoeing and backcountry skiing. Thanks to more funding, they’ll be growing the organization from a regional level (they’re currently in Quebec City) to a provincial and national level, while also reducing registration costs for their activities so more participants can take part.
Outdoor Studio is all about getting young urban artists and creatives outside and into the bounty of nature surrounding the Greater Toronto Area. A number of creatives either don’t get outdoors currently, work in isolated studios, or are lacking the social support and practical skills to take part. To remedy this, Outdoor Studio will be putting on four immersive, multi-day trips in 2017, led by a certified guide and creative mentors to equip and empower them, as well as enable them to take future trips. (And if you’re not in the GTA, check out some tips on how to make your own art in the wild.)
There is such a thing as camp for adults. Utilising the Toronto-area’s outdoor spaces as a playground to introduce and expand the reach of acroyoga, this camp will be part inspiration and part outlet to be creative with movement, and have the great outdoors as foundation, catalyst and backdrop. Watch for the first installment of AcroYoga Camp in August 2017, and in the meantime, drop in to Pursuit OCR Friday nights at 8pm to meet founder Anya Taraboulsy.
Projet Renard works to overcome the barriers to getting young families with children outdoors and raise awareness of the importance of going outside, whether it’s in the city or the wilderness. The two young women behind this Montreal-based project will be launching their project next spring.
Strong Like 2 People
This Kingston-based project, inspired by a First Nations mantra, brings together young adults from First Nations communities and young adults from other communities for intercultural exchanges in nature. Through a common appreciation of the outdoors, Strong Like 2 People aims to define the modern Canadian identity. Watch for an expedition coming in summer 2017 and a film debuting fall 2017.