This year, we set out on a mission, one that we couldn’t complete on our own – a mission that asked you to share your enthusiasm and your love for the outdoors.
And share, you did. You shared, we gave and now, kids win.
Earlier this year, in celebration of our 100th anniversary, L.L.Bean launched the Million Moment Mission with a goal to donate $1 million to the National Park Foundation. We invited you to share your outdoor moments with us – a hike up a historic mountain, a kayaking trip, a campout – and for each of those moments, we donated $1 to the National Park Foundation’s America’s Best Idea program, which connects underserved youths to the outdoors.
Thanks to you, kids across the country are already benefiting from new opportunities to hike, paddle and much more. These programs will soon have reached some 60,000 of America’s youths.
How did this Mission come to fruition? Outdoor enthusiasts across the nation mobilized for a movement to inspire the next generation to get outside. Many of you contributed by: sharing a photo of an outdoor activity on our Facebook page, participating in an Outdoor Discovery Schools course, attending our Hometown Celebration or a Bootmobile stop, and more.
Now, the mission is complete at one million moments shared, and grants from the National Park Foundation have already helped kids across the country get outdoors. Here are some moments that were made from your moment – the adventures of America’s Best Idea program grantees as they embarked on outdoor excursions this summer.
- The Assateague Adventure Academy at Assateague Island National Seashore, which encourages students to participate in recreational activities along the seashore, like kayaking and digging for clams
- The Native American Conservation Corps at Canyon de Chelly National Monument, who for the first time hired an all Native American crew, giving local youths valuable job experience–and a connection to the outdoors.
- Women on the Water: Leaders of Tomorrow, a program developed for high school girls from cities and towns surround the Delaware Water Gap National Recreation Area, which teaches the girls to become environmental stewards as they learn key kayaking, canoeing and rafting techniques
- Archaeological work in Great Smoky Mountains National Park, through which Cherokee youths and the local high school engage in a two-week dig supervised by professional archaeologists
- Voyageurs National Parks Teen Ambassadors Program, which brings kids from rural areas on outdoor adventures
Many of the participants in these grantee programs shared positive feedback. For example, Ashley, 15, from Minnesota Voyageurs Teen Ambassador program, said, “I think it’s important for our national parks to have Teen Ambassadors because we can go out and experience the park and tell other young people about it to get them interested, too. Considering that young people are the future caretakers of every aspect of the country, you want to get them to care more about our national parks so they will always be around.”
And Connor, 15, from Minnesota added, “This program is important so that generations to come will also understand how important and special our national parks are.”
Damon, 14, from Cherokee, North Carolina, and a participant in the dig at Smoky Mountain National Park said, “I hope I can come back every year. And who knows, I might possibly become an archaeologist in the future.”
One participant in the Women on the Water: Leaders of Tomorrow program summed up the impact of her outdoor adventure: “Girls where I live don’t get the chance to do things like this.”
Thanks to you, kids across the country are able to access opportunities to explore the outdoors in a safe, engaging environment. Even though our mission is technically “complete,” we remain committed to inspiring the next generation to discover the outdoors. We hope you will continue to share your outdoor moments with us as we embark on our next 100 years with new initiatives.
Stay tuned for an upcoming blog post recounting some of our favorite moments from the past year. What has been your favorite moment of our 100th anniversary year?