Making space every day for meaningful time outdoors can create unexpected opportunities for rebuilding and reengaging in community. Increased levels of isolation brought on by the pandemic have highlighted the universal need for this kind of connection. This summer, Wilderness Inquiry is excited to kick off our busy season with a #100DaysOutdoors campaign – to experience the health, wellness, and restorative benefits of the outdoors and build connection to one another and the natural world.
When we realized there were exactly 100 days between our two largest annual events on the Mississippi River – our Partner Paddle and the Great River Race – it felt like the perfect opportunity to engage our many partners, volunteers, donors, and friends in finding meaningful connections outside.
Starting today, June 10, 2022, our Executive Director Erika Rivers will begin her own #100DaysOutdoors challenge. Erika embarks on this endeavor both for the personal joy of it and to spread the message that meaningful experiences outdoors can and should be accessible to everyone.
This is Erika’s second campaign to spend 100 days outdoors. What’s different this time is our emergence from a global pandemic – which has dramatically affected everyone in our community and around the globe, causing social isolation, immense stress, and negative impacts to the healthy development of young people.
Three years ago, when Erika first challenged herself to spend 100 days outdoors, she thought she might have bitten off more than she could chew. Together with some colleagues, she took on the challenge to commit to self-care and to highlight the wellness benefits of spending time outside. “What surprised me was how easy it actually was – once I committed to doing it – and how often my family members and friends were willing to join me,” says Rivers. This insight highlights one of the most crucial aspects of our work at Wilderness Inquiry: we connect people with the outdoors, but more importantly, we aim to connect people with each other. And those connections are facilitated and deepened in a profound way when we share time together in nature.
“Each person’s experience has been very different over the last couple of years. As we emerge from the latest wave of the pandemic, the safest and most personally rejuvenating place you can be is still outdoors,” Rivers says.
Celebrating 100 days of summer again with #100DaysOutdoors We kicked it off yesterday at Wilderness Inquiry’s annual Partner Paddle. Life is better when you spend some time outdoors! Join the fun! @WildernessINQ pic.twitter.com/81jy274F3C
— Erika Rivers (@erikarivers) June 10, 2022
Erika’s fondest memories of her first “100 Days Outdoors” challenge did not involve fancy gear, technical expertise, or traveling to a distant location. Instead, she recalls dusting off her rollerblades for the first time in years, playing cards under the stars with her son, and taking reflective walks around her neighborhood. Not only are these moments memorable, but they have been shown to offer profound health and wellness benefits.
Spending time outdoors regularly can seem like a daunting task or a lifestyle overhaul. And for many, outdoor recreation spaces have historically been and continue to be unwelcoming or inaccessible due to a variety of sociocultural barriers. At Wilderness Inquiry we believe that everyone belongs outdoors. We hope that this #100DaysOutdoors campaign will help encourage and empower everyone to find time for themselves outside in whatever way and with whatever frequency feels personally significant. “You can meaningfully engage in the outdoors by tending to your garden, planning an afternoon picnic, or simply taking a minute to breathe deeply in the sunshine,” says Rivers.
During the campaign, we invite you to join the challenge by using the hashtags #100DaysOutdoors and #EveryoneBelongs, and to follow Erika on Twitter at @erikarivers and Wilderness Inquiry on the channels listed below, as we highlight impactful outdoor experiences, programs, stories, and partners.
- Facebook: @WildernessInquiry
- Instagram: @WildernessInquiry
- Twitter: @WildernessINQ
- LinkedIn: @WildernessInquiry
The campaign kicks off today and will conclude at Wilderness Inquiry’s annual Great River Race on September 17, 2022. The campaign coincides with Wilderness Inquiry’s summer programming aimed at making the outdoors accessible for people of all ages, backgrounds, and abilities, including Canoemobile, Families Integrating Together, Gateway to Adventure, and integrated outdoor adventures across the country for individuals regardless of ability, background, or income.