Kresge’s $200,000 grant will allow Detroit Outdoors to renovate the area with designated campsites to accommodate large groups. The grant will also stock a “library” of camping gear – from sleeping bags to tents – that groups can borrow from for their camping adventures. Detroit Outdoors will conduct camping leadership training for educators and youth development professionals as a requirement for use of the facility.
“This reopens a long unavailable asset to connect city youth with nature. To really learn about nature, you must immerse yourself in it. There is simply no substitute,” says Interim Detroit Parks and Recreation Director Keith Flournoy.
At roughly 1,200 acres, Rouge Park is the city’s largest. It is larger than Belle Isle (982 acres), the island park in the Detroit River, and New York’s Central Park (843 acres).
Scout Hollow covers more than 17.4 acres of mostly forest with a five-acre meadow at its heart; three camping sites at Scout Hollow will accommodate up to 30 campers each. Organizers expect to see 250 campers in the first year. They expect to serve 1,000 campers annually within three years.
While open to all youth-serving organizations, the Scout Hollow campground will be primarily focused on supporting groups from Detroit and surrounding communities.
“We have a tremendous natural asset in Rouge Park and Scout Hollow,” says Flournoy. “Collaborating with community partners like the Sierra Club and the YMCA of Metropolitan Detroit with Kresge’s support allows us to leverage that asset and bring their expertise and resources into service for the youth of our city.”
“Providing access to safe recreational opportunities in our parks and green spaces is a key component to revitalizing and reimagining neighborhood life in Detroit. Connecting to nature anchors our souls at any age, but this is particularly important in the formative years of youth,” says Wendy L. Jackson, managing director of Kresge’s Detroit Program, which is funding the Scout Hollow renovations. “We’re both proud and excited to support Detroit Outdoors in this endeavor.”
Sierra Club, a national environmental organization based in Oakland, California, is supporting Detroit Outdoors with a $20,000 grant. For the Sierra Club, which has been working with Friends of Rouge Park for several years, Scout Hollow is a way for communities to connect with nature in an urban environment.