News Items - Association of Outdoor Recreation and Education
Jeannette Stawski talks about AORE's Campus Challenge program and the enormous value it brings to members and students.


Can you describe the history behind the Campus Challenge (CC) program?

CC takes place in the fall and encourages young people from more than 100 schools across the country to get active outdoors. By logging points each time they do an outside activity, students can step up as a leader on their campus as well as on a national initiative to inspire others, compete for titles, prizes, and recognition for their schools. CC was previously ran by Outdoor Nation––a brand of the Outdoor Foundation––for many years. However in 2018, a shift in leadership necessitated finding CC a new home. The organization’s Deputy Director, Ivan Levin, entrusted AORE with the management of CC due to the similarity in our missions, values, and goals. We are honored and humbled by this decision and believe strongly that with 25 years of experience in outdoor recreation and education, AORE will be able to leverage its resources, expertise, and vast network to amplify CC’s impact and build an entirely new audience for this exciting program through our established membership and broader community.

How does Campus Challenge advance AORE’s mission and goals? What sets the CC apart in terms of value?
Members have consistently asked for a signature AORE program. CC fits the bill in every aspect, delivering an experience that’s all about connection, commitment, and of course, a little healthy competition! We categorize CC under AORE’s advocacy focus area. This is because the program elevates traditional on-campus engagement, serving as a mechanism for both member and non-member organizations to engage their respective campuses in outdoor pursuits, showcase the value of nature, foster awareness of their year-round programs, and allow the easy collection of contact information, student engagement numbers, and anecdotal stories. These valuable insights can then be used by participating schools to better understand the needs and interests of students, increase enrollment for upcoming activities and trips, and ultimately, advocate for their program to campus decision-makers in a way that many educators and administrators have been unable to do thus far.

What is on the horizon for Campus Challenge?
This year in 2019, we are kicking off our very first Campus Challenge. AORE plans to partner with registered schools before, during, and after the challenge to provide brand support and promotion for CC and ensure that this incredible initiative is successful with students while still offering an overall value add for administrators and educators. We have high hopes for what we can achieve as we build upon the excellent work accomplished by Outdoor Nation and strive to inspire future generations of outdoor enthusiasts. I am passionate about expanding our reach with CC in the years to come. There are 1.5 million 18-24 year olds out there that are engaged in the outdoors annually, but this number could be even bigger. We can do our part to improve outreach with this age group through pioneering programs like CC, which serves as an easy entry point into outdoor recreation programming for a broader range of people with different perspectives and backgrounds. Increased accessibility, awareness, and diversity will, in turn, breathe new life into the industry as a whole. I hope to see you all in the fall when we turn up the heat on this fun challenge!

Learn more about the Campus Challenge program. Then register your school to compete before you miss the April 5th deadline!


Categories: Advocacy, College/University, Executive Director Update
Published: 03/20/19