Connecting Youth With Outdoor Recreation

With the help of an NPF grant, the Martin Van Buren National Historic Site created programs connecting youth to outdoor recreation year-round.

The promise of the American Revolution, the turmoil of antebellum politics and the tragedy of the Civil War frame Martin Van Buren's life. Van Buren was born in Kinderhook in 1782, the last year of the American Revolution. He lived until July 1862, sixteen months into the American Civil War. He was among the most prominent politicians of his time and an architect of the party system that still shapes American political life.

With the help of an NPF grant, the Martin Van Buren National Historic Site (MAVA) hosted out-of-school programs for recreational activities in order to promote the use of National Parks as places to be healthy and enjoy the outdoors.

The public does not generally associate historic sites with recreation, but the program helped incorporate the cultural landscape of MAVA as integral to the concept of place and how it's used and experienced. The people who lived and worked at the home and farm likely used this place for recreation. The youth who visit now learn different outdoor activities they can enjoy in National Parks and new ways to experience nature and the outdoors at home.

The Explore and Reflect Youth Programs was provided in both the winter and summer months. The winter sessions introduced novel activities to the participants, such as snowshoe hikes and cross country skiing. Summer sessions focused on a geocache experience.

Youth organizations were encouraged to participate and a local environmental educator led programs that focused on fun and exercise, but also included reflection activities and questions to help youth connect their experience on trails and in the outdoors with their physical, mental, and emotional health.

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