Mountain Equipment Co-op (MEC) launched Outdoor Nation in Canada earlier this month in a bid to put young Canadians in charge of changing their activity levels. MEC Outdoor Nations Leadership Council and 450 delegates will be creating programs to inspire young people to get outside and be active at a stage in their lives when activity levels typically decrease substantially.

Outdoor Nation was founded in the United States by the Outdoor Foundation, a non-profit arm of Outdoor Industry Association focused on creating the next generation of outdoor enthusiasts. The
first summit took place in 2010, gathering more than 500 young leaders
from all 50 states in New Yorks Central Park. Over the past three
years, Outdoor Nation has invested in more than 250 projects that are
expected to connect 25,000 youth to the outdoors.

Now MEC, a member-owned co-operative,
with over 3.75 million members and $300 million in annual sales, will take the program to Canada.

Stats Canada reports that in 2013 almost two-thirds (60 percent) of 20-34 year olds were considered only moderately active during leisure time, while more than a third (40 percent) were considered completely inactive. Thats a drop from 71 percent of 12-19 year olds who were considered moderately active and 29 percent who were considered inactive.

MEC has inspired and enabled Canadians to lead active outdoor lives for over 40 years, says MEC CEO David Labistour. MEC Outdoor Nation addresses the need for a new generation of leaders who are committed to ensuring the outdoors can be experienced and enjoyed by all.

MEC Outdoor Nation will launch with three inaugural weekend summits in Vancouver (September 2014), Toronto (June 2015) and Montreal (Summer 2015), hosting 450 delegates between the ages of 18 to 27. Facilitated in part by the MEC Outdoor Nations Leadership council, these delegates will be challenged to dream big, propose innovative programs and launch MEC-funded projects that address the barriers to getting young adults outside and active.

The top three projects at each summit (as voted on by delegates) will receive funding from MEC. With $30,000 in total project grants, MEC will help these committed young adults introduce new ideas, identify a generation of leaders and build community engagement. Summits and working sessions will be interspersed with outdoor activities, hands-on workshops and inspiring speakers.

As an Olympic kayaker, the outdoors is my place of work, but its also where I go to recharge and relieve the stress that comes from everyday life, explains Hugues Fournel, 26 year old MEC Outdoor Nation Leadership Council member and Canadian Olympic sprint kayaker. MEC Outdoor Nation reminds us that being active outside delivers benefits that extend well past the physical.

MEC Outdoor Nation summits are free to delegates, thanks to MECs commitment to 1% for the Planet and our sponsors. Participants will get the chance to camp overnight with gear, food, entertainment and transportation provided by MEC and sponsors. Evening highlights include live music, socializing and sleeping under the stars.

MEC Outdoor Nation is a national movement to inspire young people to live and play outside. At three weekend summits in Vancouver 2014, Toronto 2015 and Montreal 2015, 450 people age 18-27 will come together to dream big, innovate solutions and create launch-ready, MEC-funded projects that address the barriers to getting young adults outside and active.