WNC Engaging Kids Outdoors

Join a national effort to connect all children - independent of race, age, econ-socio background, religion, and political affiliation - to the natural world and help make our WNC children more healthy, happy, and smart!

Location: Asheville, NC
Members: 17
Latest Activity: Oct 10, 2017

Discussion Forum

Western North Carolina Youth Congress

Western NC Youth Congress: I got the info you mailed. Interesting.... some questions:Where does the money come from? If the attendees are charged individually, how do they afford it? School districts…Continue

Started by Brian Gifford Nov 7, 2009.

The role of physical activity in Nature programs 2 Replies

According to a recent study…Continue

Started by Brian Gifford. Last reply by Brian Gifford Nov 6, 2009.

Comment Wall


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Comment by Kelli Carmack on June 22, 2013 at 6:36pm

correction- we are a therapeutic wilderness program, not a wilderness therapy program...we are not licensed therapists.   

Comment by Kelli Carmack on June 22, 2013 at 6:27pm

Hello everyone!  I would like to pass along a program that I am launching that may be of interest to you.  Please check out The 7th Generation School at

I spent many years as a teacher working with at-risk youth as well as those diagnosed with emotional and behavioral disorders.  I have also recently been a wilderness guide/substance abuse counselor for a wilderness treatment center for young adults.  For many years I have been formulating this program out of my constant question, "What can I do?"  This program is my answer and humble offering to the planet. 

The 7th Generation School is a supplementary program that not only connects youth with the natural world around them but also with the natural world that exists within them.  It is a wilderness therapy program for all youth, not just those who have gotten into trouble.  Our intention is to provide a holistic and eco-centered supplement to our youth so that they may become their vision and purpose in the world.

I hope we get to connect soon!

Comment by Ernie McLaney on December 24, 2009 at 3:48pm

I live in Charlotte, but wanted to see about connecting Brian and Matt to another group in the Asheville area; Mountain Wild. They are a subchapter of the North Carolina Wildlife Federation, also interested in connecting kids with the natural world. Here is their website:
I'm a member of the HAWK group (Habitat And Wildlife Keepers).
There's no doubt that they would be interested in having you both come speak at their group meeting.

Keep up the great work!
Comment by Brian Gifford on November 4, 2009 at 12:59pm
Western NC Youth Congress: I got the info you mailed. Interesting.... some questions:

Where does the money come from? If the attendees are charged individually, how do they afford it? School districts pay?

How will prospective attendees be recruited?

Will presenters/facilitators donate their time? Will their expenses be covered?

Have you contacted any state agencies or organizations about this? Which ones? What's the response been like?
Comment by Brian Gifford on October 31, 2009 at 10:38am
Yes, I'm the camp director for MountainCamp and I do environmental programs, here.

Thanks for the heads-up on the Google group.
Comment by Matthew H. E. M. Browning on October 30, 2009 at 9:31am

I imagine you work at MountainCamp? That is the only camp near Little Scaly that I could find. I haven't been but it looks wonderful! The facilities on the webpage also look nice. My friend in the tetons said that she was planning for 3 years for such an event, but she had representation from every county in the state of WY. A NC event would be much smaller scale but the same focus.

I am a State Park Ranger at Mount Mitchell, 35 miles northeast of Asheville on the Parkway. I've been up here doing Env Ed., Resource Management, Law Enforcement, and EMS for nearly 3 years, loving it the entire time. However I'll be leaving to go back to school in natural resources, specifically managing unstructured children's play in nature areas, fall 2010.

Are you a part of the Google Groups site? I didn't see you on there. It's a bit more active than this NING site, although I haven't had time to keep it up lately. You can join at :
Comment by Brian Gifford on October 30, 2009 at 6:18am

Yes, I'd be interested in working with you on this project. I'm also connected with a local non-profit environmental organization, the Jackson-Macon Conservation Alliance, that has been attempting to address NDD and would likely want to be involved. They have time and resources to contribute. Depending on the size of such an event, our facility has a year round staff, beautiful setting, multiple indoor meeting spaces, etc. Also, we are a non-profit and this type of event is within our organizational mission...possibility of seeking out a grant or two? ---just brainstorming.

By the way, what do you do?
Comment by Matthew H. E. M. Browning on October 29, 2009 at 3:27pm
Hey Brian,

Thanks for the comment. I agree that the possibilities are very exciting and endless here in WNC. Granted, there is a ton of great stuff already going on, such as your camp and other camps, the annual Take A Child Outside week, etc. What I really want to accomplish is connecting these groups together so we can have joint efforts and possibly annual events where we get together and share experiences, advice, etc. I'm also hoping to host a WNC Youth Congress with select middle school and high school children to discuss Nature-Deficit Disorder at a place like a camp next April. This has already been successful by a friend of mine in the Tetons ( I'd like to get students together from many different counties from Mecklenburg to Madison. I'd love to work together if you'd be interested.

I won't have much time to think about these ideas until mid-November so let's keep in touch.
Comment by Brian Gifford on October 29, 2009 at 12:27pm

Thank you for starting this group. Unfortunately, there seems to only be two of us that are members of this group who are in Western North Carolina. I'm certain this is a symptom of the realities of our region: WNC is sparsely populated and under served, as far as environmental education is concerned....but OH THE POSSIBILITIES, here. We certainly have plenty of outdoor experience opportunities, and I believe WNC region has the highest concentration of summer camps in the US. I know that the camp I run can do more to enhance our campers' "nature experience" while they are here, and I am certainly working on making that happen. I'd like to see more camp directors and camping professionals get involved in this realm.


in Highlands, NC in the midst of the Nantahala National Forest on Little Scaly Mountain on the Eastern Continental Divide

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