Earlier this year in mid March my friends and I at the Crissy Field Center in San Francisco, CA, put on a youth leadership conference for Bay Area youth. 120 high schoolers participated in this youth summit, with attendees coming from Santa Rosa, Marin, Redwood City, and of course, San Francisco!


My fellow interns and I had planned for this conference since November. We spent many months planning and preparing the workshops we were going to lead, the games and team builders we wanted to play, and various plan B's and C's in case our plan A didn't work out. I got to lead an outdoor fishing and crabbing activity with a local park ranger down by the pier! I also lead a discussion on the impact of families on individuals' outdoor experiences, which by the way- I discovered a common trend among why teens don't go outside or take advantage of their community's outdoor areas. There are many factors as to why youth don't spend their time outside, but some of the reasons include: lack of interest from the parents and rest of the family, the unappealing expense of camping gear to visit national parks, and the stereotype provided by Hollywood and the media as the parks being an unsafe place. 


Although the participants did mention a few negatives, they also did, however, mention some positives. YAY! We still have hope in preserving our rich cultural landscape!  Hehehe...a few participants brought up the idea of installing free wifi in the parks. They also opted for free transportation to the  national parks, like Yosemite.  And also, one person contributed a great idea- my favorite idea: having ethnic food festivals in the outdoors! Omg. Gyros, jambalaya, bratwurst, and sushi. Outside? Somebody sedate me!


Everytime I go back to thinking about that weekend, which by the way- was the weekend of one of San Francisco's worst storms EVER!!, I think about the weather, obviously, as it was certainly abysmal. But that seemed to make things even more interesting. From leading my outdoor activity event that I planned the weeks leading up to the summit, as I lead it in the rain (both water and seagull poop, omg), to having the whole campground help out in transferring the girl's tents to safer ground (away from falling trees and branches), and in witnessing the tents fly out of their stakes and get blown across the campground by the wind and rain during the late hours of the night, the weekend was an experience I'll never forget.

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Comment by Suz Lipman on June 7, 2011 at 8:37am

Hi Jasmine!


I'm so glad you wrote this and shared it with us! You have terrific insight about why some people aren't getting out in nature, and you're doing your part to change that. Wonderful! I love the idea of ethnic food festivals outdoors! After all, music and other arts get people outdoors all the time. And, of course, addressing transportation issues would go a long way toward getting people outside.


I really appreciate your energy and am so glad we're hearing your voice. I'm thrilled that you connected with the Natural Leaders Network and others. I know you'll have much to contribute and hope you keep sharing your ideas and activities with us. Cheers!

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