Believe it or not, camping is a new thing. Yes, it’s a glorified approximation of how nomadic humans lived around for eons. But as a recreational activity, it was a fringe thing practiced by a few strange people who wanted to live like vagabonds. It’s only in the past century that camping has been loved by millions of people.
These seven organization play a big role in making camping possible. They’re usually operating behind the scenes, so let’s shine some light on them.
The Wilderness Society
Wild places don’t preserve themselves, especially in a country with a skyrocketing population. The Wilderness Society keeps swaths of land preserved from development and in their natural, wild state. The Wilderness Society is most known for shepherding the landmark Wilderness Act through Congress, along with subsequent additions to wilderness in the decades since. They also do the less glitzy but essential work of making sure the protections stick.
The Trust for Public Land
One way to get more public land is to buy it and make it public. Not easy or cheap, but simple in concept. The Trust For Public Land buys land that’s at risk and transfers it to public ownership. Much of their land is near urban areas, forming new state, and county parks and trails. Chances are you’ve already camped in a park that the Trust for Public Land has helped create, but never knew it.
The Access Fund
If you want to go climbing, you need to be able to get to the rock. The Access Fund works to maintain that access: partnering with landowners, government agencies, and climbers to make sure that there’s access and that climbing areas are well-cared for. As climbing becomes more popular, they’re helping instill leave-no-trace ethics to keep climbing areas healthy.
The Outdoor Alliance
The Outdoor Alliance is a coalition of camping, skiing, mountain biking, climbing and paddling organizations that push for wild places, clean water, and the funding for trails, campgrounds, and environmental stewardship that make these activities possible. They’ve also drawn attention to the fact that outdoor recreation is a huge economic driver. Outdoor recreation in the U.S. provides more jobs that Apple, and an economic impact greater than the GDP of Switzerland.
No Child Left Inside Coalition
When your mom told you to go outside and play, she was right. In recent years, we’ve accumulated medical evidence that playing outside isn’t just fun. It’s essential to every kid’s mental, physical and emotional development. People recover from injury faster when we spend time outside, and exercise is better for us outside than an identical workout inside. But technology, transportation issues, fear of the unknown and crunched schedules have kept kids inside more. Enter the No Child Left Inside Coalition, dedicated to reviving the simple ideas of getting kids outside to have fun more often.
Student Conservation Association
For decades the Student Conservation Association has given young people exposure to jobs in the outdoors: building trails, studying wildlife, and working with visitors to national parks and national forests. Working with youth and young adults, the SCA has been a career pathway for many of the people who are now in charge of the places we camp.
Friends of ______________
I’m sure you have a place you love: a favorite park, campground, river, or mountain. Chances are, there’s a local “friends,” “riverkeeper” or “watershed council” type group that keeps it great. These local groups tend to be small, and many are run entirely by local citizen volunteers. They do everything from pulling noxious weeds and planting trees, making sure that the local government allocates enough funds to keep the campgrounds open, and bringing other people out to experience the area. Join them.