Snow Peak is supporting Outdoors Empowered Network through this year’s Campout For Good. Seraph White, Executive Director at Outdoors Empowered Network, shared more about the non-profit's impact and ways to support its efforts.
If you haven’t already, sign up for free to join the Campout For Good. Snow Peak will donate $1 to OEN for every camper who joins. Additionally, campers may purchase limited-edition merchandise to support OEN or buy one of the select one-for-one products and Snow Peak will donate the same item to an Outdoors Empowered Network gear library.
Tell us about the Outdoors Empowered Network.
The Outdoors Empowered Network is a network of organizations around the country that are working within their communities to increase access to the outdoors through gear libraries and training programs. We work together to understand the barriers that people face whether the high cost of gear or the impacts of systemic racism in outdoor spaces. We also look at ways that camping can affirm culture and community, through food, recreational activities, and traditional practices.
Outdoors Empowered Network curates this incredible collaboration between members and also supports members individually through fundraising, gear acquisition, programmatic consulting, and through leadership.
Is there a personal experience you’ve had that demonstrates the power of camping and time outside?
Because I grew up camping and have raised my children in the same way, camping isn’t so much a unique incredible experience as a baseline of family, community, and connection. For me it is the many little moments – watching my daughter jump off a rock into a river, eating quesadillas with close family friends in the High Sierra, my nephews curling up next to my sleeping bag on a night in Joshua Tree, my son having a cathartic experience in the shadows of the red cliffs of Zion. And many more.
What are the impacts of Outdoors Empowered Network’s programming?
Outdoors Empowered Network works to overcome a series of systemic barriers to outdoor access. We work with the first, high cost of gear, by providing gear free or at low cost through our network of gear libraries. If you have never been camping before, gear can be an overwhelming barrier – when we calculate the expenses of starting a gear library, we expect that gear will cost at least $1,000 per participant spot. Because gear can be loaned out many times, the cost per person becomes much less.
We also have many train the trainer programs at our libraries. Parents, guardians, friends, and teachers can all learn skills needed to safely take kids outdoors, allowing them to pass love of the outdoors on to the next generation.
Finally, we collectively work to make sure all the training and guides are culturally relevant and meet the on-the-ground needs of communities. Whether this is by exploring best practices when encountering racism or making sure that food recommendations are inclusive of the communities that we are working with, we work to ensure that our programs and materials are centering our communities.
How can people support OEN’s work?
The best way to support OEN itself is to make a donation! If you would like to support one of our members in your community, please look at a map of our network and contact the closest group. If there isn’t a group in your area, please get in touch with us about starting a gear library.
What exciting initiatives are on the horizon for OEN?
We are actively expanding our reach around the country – for our work to really be effective, we need access to gear in every community in the country. Additionally, we are overhauling our best practices and training guides to make sure that they are not only culturally relevant and address community needs but also accessible for the larger outdoor recreation field to learn from.