Everyone deserves the opportunity to enjoy time outdoors, because the more people who connect with nature the more we all benefit. When people have meaningful experiences outdoors, their quality of life, health, and social well-being improve, and in turn their communities become stronger and more sustainable.
Access to outdoor experiences can impassion our youth, reconnect our families, and engage our seniors. A community steeped in the outdoors will attract new residents, offer opportunities for new entrepreneurs, and catalyze business development, job growth, innovation, and town revitalization.
In 2016, Main Street Skowhegan led a strategic planning process for the town of Skowhegan, and in interviews, focus groups, and survey responses, residents made it clear that they were proud of our natural resources, they appreciated our trails and parks, and they felt that outdoor recreation could be a catalyst for future economic and community development. Respondents repeatedly mentioned Run of River—the town's plan to construct a whitewater paddling and surf park in our downtown river gorge—as a project that would revitalize Skowhegan, like whitewater parks have in so many other communities around the country.
Skowhegan Outdoors—officially the Skowhegan Outdoors AmeriCorps Program, an initiative of Main Street Skowhegan—is an effort to ensure that everyone in the Skowhegan community has equitable access to the outdoors, opportunities to participate in free outdoor activities, and the tools to experience the natural world on their own. It's an initiative that will connect all outdoor recreation work in the Skowhegan community, including free outdoor programming, the implementation of a community gear library, the development of Run of River, and the expansion of the local trail network. Skowhegan Outdoors will help bring people together through shared experiences, promote our outdoor spaces and facilities, and catalyze a shift toward a more active lifestyle in Skowhegan—a lifestyle that is accessible to everyone.