#WEOUTSIDE helps asylum-seeking teens explore Maine’s outdoors

For the full series, check out Borealis: The Nature of Maine.

A group of kids on a canoe trip is a pretty normal summer camp activity in Maine. But for most of these teens, it’s their first time in a canoe. Most of their families recently arrived in Maine from Angola, and today is a welcome reprieve from the crowded emergency shelter in Portland where they’ve been living.

Their trip is organized by a new grant-funded program #WEOUTSIDE, run by the Maine Association of New Americans (MANA). The program launched this summer to introduce asylum seeker teenagers to the Maine Outdoors. Program leader Moon Machar said the goal of the program is to help young people of color access and enjoy the outdoors.

With support from a grant from The Nature Based Education Consortium and a partnership with the Maine Appalachian Trail Land Trust, Machar took about a dozen campers out on a new outdoor adventure each week. In this story, Ari Snider joins Machar and the teens for a paddle on a beautiful sunny day in the Rangeley Lakes Region of Western Maine.