We didn’t have to be in the summit tent again till 4pm – so I explored more and went to the Bethesda Fountain to see EMS and Confluence Watersports setting up and renting out kayaks and canoes for free to anyone who wanted to take them out on the water. Such a beautiful site – all these kids and adults alike participating in water sports in the lake of Central Park.

Outdoor Nation and Adventures NYC really knew how to do it.

In line I met Melissa Holmes, who I became fast friends with when we both decided we wanted to be a part of the Media and Culture discussions once we were inside the summit. I found out that she a 26 years old, originally from Ohio but currently living in Brooklyn and studying Urban Policy at The New School.

Each table had a facilitator and ours was Nate Swartz, a 20-year-old outdoor junkie from Massachusetts. We listened to welcome notes by Christine Fanning of the Outdoor Foundation and Maya Enista from Mobilize.org. Also on the speaker list was Steve Rendle of The North Face. He told us how he’d gotten the idea for the Outdoor Nation Youth Summit and how it all came together with the help of Outdoor Nation and Mobilize.org. Other speakers included the Commissioner of the NYC Department of Parks and Recreation, Adrian Benepe, the Conservation Fund CEO Larry Selzer and Chris Bui from Mobilize.org.

We started with some basic icebreaker questions within our group and found out that we were of all different backgrounds. That’s one thing that stuck out to me when I first walked in the tent – the crowd was so diverse. Also at my table was Melissa Riggs from W.L. Gore & Associates and Andrea Gironer from Americorps.

We talked about the many ways we could go about using media and culture to inspire kids to get outdoors. Other discussion topics included: Diversity, Health and Active Lifestyles, Outdoor Careers, Outdoor Service and Outdoor Recreation and Education.

Another fascinating aspect of the summit was that every single person who attended had their own personal interactive voting device so all 540 of us were heard and everyone had their vote counted. We used it to vote on the ideas each group came up with and to also take part in little fun breaks like “Who is your favorite superhero” and “What is your favorite type of music.” Very cool way to make everyone feel involved.

The summit came to a close around 8pm Saturday night after a great brainstorming session. We took our top three ideas and submitted them and the fabulous organizers stayed late into the night putting them all together so we could review them all Sunday morning on day two.

Day two summary coming soon (and with photos)!