With funding through the National Park Foundation’s Outdoor Exploration programs from NPF partner EVOLVE Plant-Based Protein, twenty high school girls from the Los Angeles Unified School District went camping for the first time. The Santa Monica Mountains National Recreation Area (SAMO) newly launched “Girls Outside” program brought the high schoolers on a three-day, two-night visit to hike, camp, stargaze, and explore the park.
Although the girls all live within two hours from SAMO, this was their first experience in the park and first-time camping. Barriers including lack of transportation, the cost of camping gear, and a lack of knowledge or familiarity with parks in general can keep communities from accessing even nearby public lands.
“It was a little scary because I've never hiked before,” said Emily Diane, 11th grade. “But we learned a lot about the plants … and I learned to identify poison oak. The staff was easy to talk to and they had vastly different personalities. It definitely made camping easy ... We also learned so much from the rangers.”
After completing the Girls Outside program, the girls can return to SAMO or visit another park and will know what to bring on a hike, how to pitch a tent, and read a map. They can confidently recreate outdoors.
The 2022 Girls Outside program is made possible thanks to EVOLVE Plant-Based Protein and their support of the National Park Foundation. Through Outdoor Exploration funded programs like Girls Outside, NPF in partnership with EVOLVE is removing barriers, protecting and providing access to the outdoors and working to develop future stewards of our national parks.
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