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June 2014

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JMU Selected to Compete in Outdoor Campus Challenge

Outdoor Nation Selects Universities to Compete in First Ever Outdoor Campus Challenge

As the semester draws to a close, many university students are packing their bags and heading out for some summer fun. Students at ten colleges and universities across the US are gearing up for the outdoor challenge of their lives; coming up with innovative strategies to help them win the title of ‘most outdoorsy campus’ in the Outdoor Nation Campus Challenge.

The Challenge, fueled by The North Face, was developed to combat some of today’s bleak statistics around young people and outdoor participation. Current research tells us young people spend 50 percent less time outdoors in natural settings than the generation that preceded them. More than 80 percent of Americans live in urban areas and only 20 percent of young people live within a half-mile of a park or open space.

In response, Outdoor Nation launched the first-ever Outdoor Nation Campus Challenge -- working with colleges and universities across America to get more young people outside and active. This week, Outdoor Nation and The North Face selected ten schools who will go head-to-head in the fall, competing to see who can get the most people in their student bodies and surrounding communities outside and active. Think Mother Nature meets March Madness.

"College students are among the most creative, innovative and influential group of people in our country today,” said Chris Fanning executive director of the Outdoor Foundation. "Over the past several years, these young leaders have emerged as the drivers behind Outdoor Nation and the Campus Challenge builds on our investment in these change makers and thought leaders. If we are truly going to inspire a new generation of outdoor enthusiasts – the ideas and energy must come from them."

During the eight-week Outdoor Nation Campus Challenge, participating individuals at each school will self-report on their outdoor activities through an interactive online platform powered by ContestCore. The school that logs the most activities outside at the end of the competition will win a valuable prize package, scholarship for an outdoor program assistant, a custom gear library, an outdoor festival for all students, and valuable bragging rights. An individual achievement award, 'Outsider of the Year', will also be given to the student that inspires the most people to get outdoors.

"We are excited to see the fresh, unique ideas that these young leaders develop to share their passion for the outdoors and ultimately find better ways to connect people and nature," said Ann Krcik, director of Outdoor Exploration at The North Face. "There is no better way to address the issue of getting more people outside than to learn from the brightest minds of the next generation for a new perspective and creative solutions." 


JMU is in a unique position to successfully engage a large number and wide variety of participants in the Campus Challenge with its close proximity and abundance of outdoor recreational opportunities (Shenandoah National Park, George Washington National Forest, Shenandoah River, etc.) and highly engaged student body. University Recreation's (UREC's) mission is “Motivating Madison into Motion” and UREC plans to dedicate many resources to inspire and support maximum participation. Support for this effort has been garnered from other JMU departments and student organizations, which will allow us to maximize our reach to a wide and diverse audience with our events and challenges.

After completing an extensive application, James Madison University Recreation was notified that they were selected to compete in the challenge. View UREC's application video! Other schools selected to compete in the 2014 Campus Challenge include: Appalachian State University, California State University, Long Beach, College of Saint Benedict and Saint John's University, George Mason University, Michigan Technological University, Spelman University, University of Central Florida, University of Iowa and University of Wisconsin-Madison. 

UREC plans to initiate a series of far-reaching, large-scale events and challenges over the course of eight weeks this Fall, including:

  • Mountain Day Kickoff Event: Free transportation to Massanutten Mountain to revive a former JMU tradition from the early 1900s.
  • Peak Bagger’s Challenge: Reward those who hike as the most surrounding mountains.
  • Sleep Under the Stars Challenge: Reward those with the highest total number of nights spent outside.
  • Open Climb Days: UREC's TEAM Challenge Course will be open for participants and the program will highlight the adaptive elements of the course.
  • Expedition Denali Event: NOLS sponsored the historic first all African American attempt on Denali in the summer of 2013, and trip members have visited JMU twice in the past. Another visit from a trip member will be scheduled for an educational presentation and adventure trip.
  • Outdoor Festival Weekend: UREC will offer a variety of free outdoor trips (rock climbing, whitewater kayaking, backpacking, cycling, etc.) as well as free gear rentals from our Equipment Center. 

UREC efforts for the Campus Challenge are led by Guy deBrun, Sasha Griffith, Jenny Merian and Kristin Gibson. Please contact UREC if you or your organization would like to partner in this effort!

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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. 


Media Contact
Stasia Raines
The Outdoor Foundation
sraines@outdoorfoundation.org
619.957.9891

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