Connecting Maine’s Youth to the Outdoors

Teenagers do a jumping pose for a picture with a large forest and mountain in the background.


The stages of grief don’t usually include creating a state-wide organization that provides high schoolers with outdoor skills and access to the diverse wildlands of Maine. However, for Carol and Bob Leone, providing teenagers with access to outdoor recreation opportunities has been central to their healing.

After losing their 15-year-old daughter, Sara, in a car accident in 2005, the Leone’s founded Teens to Trails so they could offer others the kinds of outdoor experiences that Sara had once enjoyed with young people her age. Teens to Trails seeks to connect teens with Maine’s spectacular wild places through adventure activities and play, establishing outing clubs at high schools and partnering with universities for outdoor programming.

The Leone’s reached out to the National Park Service – Rivers, Trails and Conservation Assistance program (NPS-RTCA) early on for assistance to engage community members and school leaders in growing and developing their idea. NPS-RTCA guided the development of their concept and helped establish the new nonprofit. Teens to Trails reconnected with NPS-RTCA in 2018 to envision a network for helping other states develop similar successful programs. Today, Teens to Trails has established outing clubs for nearly 40 high schools, engaging hundreds of students, and they have their sights set on expanding to twice as many schools that do not yet have outdoor programming.

Last updated: March 2, 2022