A publication of the Kentucky Center for Public Service Journalism

Outdoor Adventure Clubs offers urban teens the benefits of positive outdoor experiences

Special to NKyTribune

One Saturday, Outdoor Adventure Clubs led a group of urban teens on a kayaking adventure. The group of 44 adventurers allowed the club to hit a milestone — providing over 5,000 outdoor adventures.

The group included students from Cincinnati Public Schools (Shroder, Hughes, Woodward, and Aiken) along with Bellevue, Dayton, and Newport High Schools from Northern Kentucky.

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“There are so many benefits in getting these students outdoors,” explains Founder and Executive Director Denny McFadden. “The adventurers not only learn how to kayak or hike or bike; but they learn conservation and our experience, as well as research, shows that it stimulates creativity, reduces stress, improves academic performance and so much more.”

Outdoor Adventure Clubs of Greater Cincinnati (OACGC) is a nonprofit founded in 2011 by retired Cincinnati Public Schools (CPS) teacher and avid outdoor enthusiast, Dennis “Denny” McFadden.

During his tenure with CPS, Denny facilitated a number of relationship building canoe trips for students and fellow teachers. Each trip had the same transformative effect, as participants gained confidence and learned resilience while cooperating as a team.

On a real Outdoor Adventure. )Photo provided)

On a real Outdoor Adventure. (Photos provided)

Despite his determination to keep student costs low, the $25 stipend proved to be too great a sacrifice for some. Consequently, these students never had the chance to share in the life-changing experiences happening on the river.

During the 2012-2013 school year, Denny began Outdoor Adventure Clubs in three CPS high schools with the simple goal of offering all students the opportunity to participate in outdoor experiences at no cost. At that point, Denny started reaching out for support of this initiative and was able to gain the support of the Carol Ann and Ralph V. Haile Jr./US Bank Foundation.

Since then, OACGC has established active clubs in 19 schools, including all CPS high schools and four schools in Northern Kentucky, and now have provided over 5,000 weekend adventures for students. Additionally, the community’s key funders have engaged to support OACGC including Interact for Health, United Way, Seligman Family Foundation, and the PNC Charitable Trust.

“We plan to continue to add schools and adventurers which would not be possible without these funders,” says McFadden adding “we continue to seek involvement from other funders as well as adult adventurers that want to help and organizations that can donate equipment or sponsor events.”

These outdoor adventures go beyond the kayaking trip in September.

OAGC is currently planning for a bike ride in October, a hike in November, ice skating in December – and repeating it all next year along with rock climbing, skiing and more!

A grat experience

A great experience

OACGC provides for transportation, breakfast fruit, lunch sandwiches or hot dogs over open fire when possible, plus all activity fees.

Over the course of his career, Denny has witnessed so many students transform through direct interaction with nature. “Although these transformations shape our weekend adventures, the driving force behind the start of OACGC were the students who never had the opportunity to participate,” Denny explains. “We can’t thank our supporters and volunteers enough for their passionate efforts to help get more urban teens out into nature. Now it’s on to  10,000!!!”

To learn more visit Outdoor Adventure Clubs at www.outdooradventureclubs.org/

Outdoor Adventure Clubs of Greater Cincinnati (OACGC) is a 501(c)3 Ohio based non-profit organization dedicated to connecting urban high school students with nature and the outdoors through positive, engaging, and free recreation, education, and conservation activities.

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