Before attending the Legacy Camp I was feeling a bit stuck.  At age 24, I was lucky to land a great position with a federal agency, doing work with communities to improve access to parks and trails in urban areas.  Although I was dedicated to and passionate about my work, there was one major thing missing from my professional life that often left me feeling isolated and sometimes disempowered; I had no peer support.  The average age of my office was about 25 years my senior.  This meant that there were very few individuals my age or experience-level in my program--let alone in my office or agency--with whom I could share ideas and challenges, and with whom I could collaborate.

Over the course of the Legacy Camp, I built relationships and made connections to a network of over fifty other young leaders and individuals active in the movement to get more young people outside.  The camp provided us with a unique opportunity to establish a tight-knit community of young environmental educators and activists. I left the camp, not only feeling impassioned and energized to continue my work in the children and nature movement, but also feeling secure that I had the infrastructure and personal support to do so.

It has been less than three months since I attended the Legacy Camp, and the Natural Leaders network has already proven to be an invaluable resource.  Within days of leaving Bainbridge Island I began to have conversations with my fellow Natural Leaders about potential partnerships and collaborations.  I have exchanged ideas, programming, and volunteer time with other Natural Leaders to help each other plan and facilitate our respective outdoor events.  I have also received a number of friendly "check-in" messages from many of my fellow Natural Leaders, just to ask how I am doing and to demonstrate their care and support for my work and my general well-being.  The Natural Leaders Legacy Camp was a tremendous opportunity for me, which has left its own legacy—a peer support network—in my personal and professional life.

Sophie Sarkar
Rivers, Trails & Conservation Assistance Program
National Park Service

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