Who We Are

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.  Our team is committed to making a difference in the lives of underserved youth by creating a safe environment for healthy physical, social, and emotional development while fostering good stewardship of green spaces and a better understanding of the environment.

What We Do

OACGC provides no-cost outdoor recreational activities for approximately 2,500 area high school students each year throughout the Greater Cincinnati and Northern Kentucky region. OACGC focuses on students and schools in underserved areas where regular access to safe outdoor recreation is far more difficult to achieve.

Program activities include hiking, biking, kayaking, camping, fishing, climbing, skiing, snowboarding, and more.  We also host indoor adventures including rock climbing, basketball, volleyball, zumba, yoga, and other exciting activities. Many of the adventures take students out of their neighborhoods for the first time.  Students are thrilled to participate in stress-free recreation while making their own connection with nature and improving their interpersonal skills with one another.

These activities nurture positive relationships with adults and peers while providing a safe environment for physical recreation, unstructured play, exploring new interests, enhancing positive behavior, and strengthening academic, social, and life skills in a safe environment.

Mission

The mission of Outdoor Adventure Clubs to get more urban teens out into nature for healthy outdoor recreation, education, and conservation opportunities at no expense to participants.

Vision

Our vision is to mold the next generation of outdoor enthusiasts and environmental stewards by cultivating in our students a passion and respect for the natural world through frequent engagement in recreational activities that improve their physical, mental, and emotional health.

Founder’s Story

For many years while teaching in the Cincinnati Public School district I facilitated an annual “team building” canoe trip for students and fellow teachers at Hughes High School. For a modest fee of $25.00, each student enjoyed transportation to and from the Little Miami River, a canoe to share with a classmate, and lunch at Lake Isabella Park at the end of our five-mile float. During those outdoor adventures I witnessed a number of amazing things happen among our students and staff.

At the onset of our put-in to the river, lots of kids and adults who had never paddled a canoe struggled mightily. Teams of students and staff crisscrossed from one bank to another as they tried to keep their boats upright and pointed downstream. Some became increasingly frustrated and discouraged when their repeated attempts proved futile. Eventually, however, the skills of each and every paddler improved. The farther downstream we progressed, the more capable and confident everyone became.

Along the route I witnessed an amazing transformation. Kids and adults alike who started the trip wondering whether or not they would even survive the float became successful paddlers. They learned to cooperate in navigating the still pools, the heart-racing rapids, and the shallow shoals.

Kids who could not even swim were seen jumping into the river from the rope swings that we found every mile or so along the river banks. Students and staff came to the rescue of other boaters in difficulty. Capsized canoes were righted and drained. Gear floating downstream was captured and returned its waterlogged owners. Skinned knees and knuckles were bandaged and the float continued.

By trip’s end, all had become proficient in maneuvering their boats downstream. More importantly, all had accomplished something many had never done before. They conquered their fears about an unknown and experienced something they may not have tried on their own.

As the students and staff exited the river at our designated take-out, their expressions and exclamations said it all. They had grown–as individuals and as a group–in so many ways!!!

My goal in establishing Outdoor Adventure Clubs for urban youth is to recreate this amazing opportunity for as many students as possible. Over the years I took hundreds of teens on such canoe trips, but there were always those for whom the $25.00 stipend was too great a sacrifice. Meals or bus fare often competed directly for their scare financial resources.

Consequently, many of our students never had the chance to share in our team building activities and the life-changing experiences they provided. I’m confident that by eliminating the fees and the logistical challenges associated with such field trips, students and teachers will seize upon the opportunity to participate in these valuable outdoor adventures.

Hopefully throughout the Greater Cincinnati region there will be “no child left indoors” because she or he lacks the financial means to participate in such an important life experience.

Denny McFadden;
Founder / Executive Director

Our Rationale

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Minutes Per Year Young People Spend on Devices and Screens
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Minutes Per Year Young People Spend Playing Outside
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Acres of Park and Playground Land in the U.S.
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Number of Obese Young People in the U.S.
Reduces Effects of NDD (Nature Deficit Disorder) – In his best-selling book, The Last Child in the Woods, author Richard Louv brought national attention to NDD, referring to the negative impacts that occur when children don’t spend enough time doing outdoor activities.

Improves Social-Emotional Health – Spending time outdoors helps ease Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Activity, relieve stress, reduce depression, and improve self confidence.

Fights Childhood Obesity, Diabetes, and Heart Disease – Overall obesity rates are 41% lower in young people who spend time enjoying outdoor recreation activities.

Nurturing Environmental Stewards – Exposing students to natural resources like protected rivers, trails, and nature centers, builds their appreciation and respect for the environment.

Encouraging STEM Interests – Directly engaging students with nature and the outdoors stimulates an interest in the natural world that sparks the desire for a more intensive understanding of the spaces we inhabit.

Providing Career Pathways – Many students are well qualified for summer employment opportunities with local park systems because of their experience and exposure with OAC.

Diversifying the Workforce – People of color are woefully underrepresented in careers in natural resource management.  Building an appreciation for the outdoors is the first step in connecting students to future career opportunities in local, state, and national parks, recreation centers, and beyond.

Our Values

Inspire

urban teens through a strong connection with the nature

Share

our passion for the great outdoors with underserved youth

Teach

students how to be responsible stewards of our environment

Empower

healthy physical, social, and emotional development of teenagers through outdoor recreation, education, and conservation opportunities

Your Impact

You can support OAC’s mission to improve the physical, mental, and emotional health of urban teens through regular engagement with nature and the outdoors.

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