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Get Outdoors

Youth empowerment through a sustainable/conservation ethic

A Generation Removed from Nature

Our Appliance Children

            Today indoor sports, Playstation , Gamecube, XBOX, MSN, skateboard parks, computers and television are the focus of our youth in Newfoundland and Labrador. Salmon fishing, trouting, catching a rabbit, or even playing in the beach no longer plays a pivotal role in the youth of our province. The result is a generation of youth dissociated with hunting, fishing and our great outdoors. This decline in our youth involvement is due, in part, to a lack of understanding of the relationship between the outdoors and the stewardship of the environment. We can promote conservation, stewardship, hunting and fishing, the need for wild spaces, through educational programs, television shows, and the like, unless we get our youth outdoors within the midst of nature- it becomes no more than an intellectual knowledge based activity. Nature is more than that-it provides for intrinsic values that require participation. Again the result of this non -participation is leaving a generation of youth disconnected from nature.


            The Newfoundland and Labrador Wildlife Federation is gravely concerned about this trend. The further removed our youth(our future society) becomes from nature, the less it will understand the connection between human behaviour and the state of the environment.


            Therefore, if we continue with this approach, who will become the future caretakers of our natural resources?  The Newfoundland and Labrador Federation envisages the need to develop and promote a program that instills in our children a sustainable and a conservation ethic. We also believe that hunting and fishing brings many economic and social benefits to a society and if we continue to do nothing those economic and social benefits will be lost or replaced with a value and an ethic that will take the human species out of the nature equation all together.

The answer lies with our youth and a program to get them OUTDOORS.

How to rekindle the spirit of our outdoors.


            The Newfoundland and Labrador Wildlife Federation is the oldest conservation organization in Newfoundland and is an affiliate of the Canadian Wildlife Federation both of which were formed in 1963. Since that time we have been promoting conservation projects in Newfoundland and fighting for hunting and fishing rights in our province that we see eroded each and every year. We championed the protection of the Pine Marten, we participated in the Senate sub-Committee meetings on “seals and Sealing in Canada” and countered Greenpeace’s negative and misinformed media campaign against the seal hunt, we championed the Main River Heritage project, we promoted the protection of the Common Loon, and fought against those who would privatize our rivers, we made provincial and international presentations on acid rain and it’s negative impact on our environment, we helped introduce Project Wild in several pilot test schools, and serve on the DFO Salmon Advisory Committee, the provincial ecosystem forestry committee and the federal-provincial snowmobile committee.


            We realize that our youth is preoccupied with modern technology and that there is a need to get our youth outdoors. The goal of NLWF is to help bring a youth outdoors club/program to every community in Newfoundland and Labrador.


            NLWF proposed program is for parents, teachers, volunteers, and students interested in promoting youth leadership, conservation and outdoor activities which will instill in our youth and families an intrinsic spiritual commitment to nature through the empowerment of our children.


What is a Get Outdoors Program?


            The theme of our proposal is youth empowerment through a sustainable conservation ethic- a theme that encourages respect for all individual outdoor  interests and  promotes the intrinsic spiritual value of nature.


            This program will be activity based involvement in our great outdoors. This program is meant to be fun , and focussed on providing enriching outdoor experiences for youth. This program will provide members for an opportunity to learn hands-on and in -the-field about conservation, community service and build a “connection “ with their natural surroundings.


            Various projects will be designed through this program, but the projects and activities will have ownership with the local community group. For instance, if the youth members are primarily interested in environmental projects, like community beach clean-up, the program will foster a mechanism for the group to assume responsibility for the planning and execution of their participation. If the group is primarily interested in outdoor activities like cross-country skiing, snowshoeing, winter survival camping the program will provide a mechanism for them to do this also.




            Through participation in any number of conservation activities, club meetings, youth members will gain self-confidence and learn organizational, teamwork and communication skills. By being directly involved in the planning, youth member’s commitment to the program itself is reinforced and assured. Through this process, they learn about responsibility, meeting deadlines, managing funds, working as a team and most importantly , developing pride in being part of successful and meaningful activities in their community. 


            Furthermore, participation in outdoor activities foster a life-long respect for our natural resources, youth participation in the outdoors is often lost to technological pursuits and other urban activities formulated in rural communities, our youth will develop new perspectives on conservation and outdoor activities such as hunting and fishing, and as a rule youth conservationists become active community leaders and ambassadors for conservation 


            Not only our youth and communities would benefit by actively engaging in such a program, through the inception of a conservation ethic and a team building approach to problem solving. Furthermore this program can assist in other society agendas promoted by various government agencies, namely Department’s of Education, Health and Tourism.


            Currently, within our school system we are seeing a significant decline in the number of students  who are taking Physical Education courses to graduate. The Department of Education has proposed a 180 hour component to their P.E. program that all students would do instead of a P.E. course per say. This program which is activity based could be used to facilitate this essential graduation requirement. Furthermore, this program could augment the science curriculum through various outdoor activities. The Department of Education can benefit.


<>            Recently in a national study, it was confirmed that Newfoundland and Labrador had the highest rates of obesity in the country. This program by promoting healthy outdoor activity and a healthy lifestyle would take our children away from their sedentary lifestyle of video games and television. In my area of the province the survey indicated that 76% of our youth population was in the obese category- that in itself is an alarming statistic. The Department of Health can benefit.


            Currently, hunting and fishing activities in our province brings in a revenue of about 200 million dollars to our provincial economy. The average age of hunting and fishing participants in this province is currently 52. In fifteen years those individuals are going to become senior citizens and who is left to feel this void in the economic benefit to the province. It will not be our youth who are presently not participating in those activities now. The Department of Tourism can benefit

Get outdoors is for Everyone.......

            Any student , under the age of nineteen, who has an interest in our natural resources and a desire to learn may participate in this program. Whether it be fishing, hunting, camping or birdwatching- youth members may discover their place in the outdoors, and in doing so learn the value of working as a team to protect and enhance our natural resources.


The target age for this program will be at the discretion of the host group of the host mentor.


The local group will be sponsored by an adult mentor who will be required to undergo a Police background check. The adult member(s) assist and help motivate the youth members by providing direction for activities and to assist the youth membership as a whole to function effectively as a team.


            Each Get Outdoors local organization would have a membership of at least 12 youth members to start, plus one adult mentor. Each member would pay a fee of (i.e) $10.00 for the purchase of a kit and to offer insurance protection for it’s membership. This minimal fee will also help pay for the administration of the program. For example, the Newfoundland Cross -Country ski association charges a club fee that is submitted to the provincial organization, which provides a ski package,-a instructional aid, award badges, etc, provides for membership insurance and returns part of the fee to offset local organizational costs. Each local organization will also be responsible to fundraise to offset local expenses.  The Newfoundland and Labrador Wildlife Federation would administer local organizations using this model.

How would this program work..........


There a seven essential elements of the NLWF Get outdoors program:


  1. Conservation and sustainable use of our resources
  2. Education
  3. Healthy lifestyle choices
  4. Outdoor Exploration
  5. Team building/ community citizenship
  6. Aesthetic appreciation of nature
  7. Fund Raising


            The essential frame work of this program encourages involvement in a variety of community service, conservation and outdoor exploration activities: youth members thereby earn a series of badges(crests) and pins to recognize their participation.


Proposed topics for development compatible with Newfoundland culture and ecology........


*Ocean beach ecology and beach clean-up

*Canoe safety and maintenance

* Fly fishing methods for salmon and trout–flytying

* Moose/Caribou/ Blackbear Ecology- identification

* Game and Songbird identification

*Orienteering/GPS use

* Nest box construction

*Tree planting

* Outdoor camping and survival

*Firearm safety and awarding of Gun Safety certificate

* Cross- Country skiing and Snowshoeing

* Furbearer ecology- trapping

* Fish habitat restoration

* Birds of prey activity

* Outdoor cookout

* Father -son / Mother Daugher activities

* Pine Marten Ecloogy and Biology

* Preserving natural sites


*Animal tracking/ species identification

*Sea/Plankton identification


* DFO small craft proficiency testing



            All the above topics and projects developed within a framework of sustainable development couched in a conservation ethic. Each project will be developed using the Newfoundland and Labrador Ecoregions/ Newfoundland Culture with the promotion of the seven essential components of this program previously stated.


Future Considerations:


The Newfoundland and Labrador Wildlife Federation envisions this program running successfully and that through government cooperation, cooperate donations and organization by the NLWF an outdoor facility where every child can access a week of outdoor activities that builds on an empowered youth leading the way in conservation ethos and comradeship for our great outdoors.


   When a culture does not harmonize human nature with nature, it is doomed to failure.

Prepared by: Ward Samson
for the
Newfoundland and Labrador Wildlife Federation
June 2004
Main Brook, NL