The Glacier Institute and RightOnTrek: Introducing Youth to the Great Outdoors
One of the best ways to immerse yourself in the outdoors is by taking educational courses. Outdoor education comes in many forms, and there’s certainly something out there for everybody. Learning in nature can give you a greater appreciation for our natural places, and hopefully inspire you to take action to conserve and protect the land you love.
Glacier National Park and it’s goats at sunset. Photo: Bill Vanan
Children who are introduced to the outdoors at a young age have the opportunity to be lifelong outdoor learners and adventurers, and can benefit greatly from it. A University of Washington study concluded that there are real benefits to including children in outdoor education programs. Read more about it below:
- Children perform better in school when they learn outdoors.
- Outdoor education can lead to increased social, mental, and physical health in children.
- Children can learn important decision-making skills and independence in the outdoors.
- Children will gain a greater appreciation and understanding for the outdoors.
RightOnTrek’s goals are to spread awareness through educational content. On our website, we are cataloging areas, trails, and points of interest and offer a suite of different trip planning tools. These resources are totally free to use and also include information geared towards recreating responsibly and sustainably. Because we encourage outdoor recreation, it’s also our duty to keep our wild places wild.
Campers and Glacier Institute Staff preparing for their adventure! Photo: Mary Cloud Vander Ark
For us, it is important to find partners that share in this belief structure, and in early August, 2021, RightOnTrek partnered with the Glacier Institute to provide meals and backpacking rentals for a youth backpacking camp. The Glacier Institute is the only official educational non-profit partner of Glacier National Park here in Montana and with a mission of “strengthening connections to the outdoor world through outdoor education”, we are quite proud to call them a partner.
This particular camp consisted of 24 youth campers who had very little experience in the outdoors. The campers went on a 3-day adventure in the Spotted Bear area of the Flathead National Forest. They were split into 2 groups of 12, with one group starting at one end of the trail, and the other group starting at the other end.
The goal of this camp was to give youth the tools and knowledge necessary to head out on a multi-day backpacking adventure. Participants were taught how to safely travel and camp in the backcountry in a low-impact manner, using the principles of Leave No Trace.
Who’s ready for dinner? Photo: Mary C. Vander Ark
In all, RightOnTrek donated over 50 meals to the Glacier Institute. The Easy Mac and Cheese was a hit! The campers experimented and combined our Mac and Cheese and our Backcountry Chili to make chili-mac. Thumbs up all around! To cook these meals, we gave the campers lightweight Montbell pots. We also supplied the youth campers with MSR Pocket Rocket Deluxe stoves, one of the lightest and most compact stove systems out there.
RightOnTrek also provided campers with the rest of the backpacking gear they needed. Every camper was able to stay in a MSR Hubba NX tents, the RightOnTrek standard ultralight rental kit tent. We also donated rental Patagonia sleeping bags, Big Agnes sleeping pads, and Platypus Gravity water filters to the group for their trek.
Campers checking out their backpacking kits! Photos: Mary C. Vander Ark
According to the Glacier Institute, our gear was a big upgrade for the campers. Past campers didn’t always have access to high quality gear and healthy trail-friendly food, and we were happy to make the experience more enjoyable and accessible.
With the success of this event with the Glacier Institute, both organizations decided that it’s a no-brainer to keep going – look out for more youth and educational programs from us next season!
Where Can My Children And I Learn More About The Outdoors?
The Glacier Institute is an excellent resource for teaching your children about the outdoors, and maybe you’ll learn something too! With their incredibly knowledgeable staff, they are able to provide truly unique outdoor educational experiences. They offer courses covering nearly every aspect of the outdoors, be it a guided hiking trip, a plant identification class, or a bear awareness seminar. Here are a just few of the on-site classes that the Glacier Institute offers:
- Alpine Wildflower Identification
- Birds of Prey in Glacier Park
- Photography: Capturing Glacier’s Night Sky
In addition to in-person classes, the Glacier Institute offers online outdoor courses as well – they’re a valuable resource for anyone heading into the backcountry, and especially useful if you’re heading out here to Montana. Pro tip: Take their online Bear Safety Course if you’ve never visited bear country before. It could save your life!
David, RightOnTrek’s Gear Expert, and campers talking about Ursack Bear Bags. Photo: Mary C. Vander Ark
Another one of our partners, the Leave No Trace Center for Outdoor Ethics, is an awesome organization that wants everyone to protect the environment. They offer great resources for learning how to take care of our wild spaces and for minimizing our impact while recreating outdoors. A good place to start is the totally free Leave No Trace Online Awareness Course. It takes around 45 minutes to complete, and the Leave No Trace Organization gives you a certificate of completion at the end of the course.
The Leave No Trace Organization also has countless educational programs and videos for children to learn more about the outdoors. In addition to these free online resources, Leave No Trace has also provided a list of accredited youth outdoor education programs here. You can also look for youth outdoor camps in your area on social media!
By giving youth a greater appreciation for the outdoors, we can teach the next generation how to respect the natural world they recreate in. RightOnTrek will continue to partner with outdoor education organizations. We are committed to protecting and giving back to the planet we live on, and education is one of the best ways to achieve that.
All photos credited to Mary Cloud Vander Ark are also used with express permission from the Glacier Institute.
Nick, the author, is from Whitefish, MT and is an intern for RightOnTrek. He’s currently attending Montana State University. Whether it’s backcountry skiing, climbing, or camping, Nick loves to photograph him and his friends having fun in the outdoors.
We’d love to hear your thoughts about outdoor education and other excellent organizations like the Glacier Institute that are making it more accessible to all! Leave us a comment below or drop us an email to firstname.lastname@example.org.