A 16,000-mile adventure this summer has led to a new venture for former University of Richmond soccer teammates Fynn Glover of Chattanooga and Russell Himelein of Wilmington, Del.
They and Glover's younger brother, Ry, comprised "Expedition Y" with sponsorship from Rock/Creek Outfitters. They visited national parks and college campuses with the idea of seeing North America's great outdoors resources in person and finding out how the emerging generation of potential leaders related to those resources.
The trio set out June 6 up the East Coast to Maine and then headed west through Canada and the Upper Peninsula of Michigan before dropping down to Chicago and traversing the Northern Great Plains to Montana and back into Canada for stops in Alberta and British Columbia. From there they headed south to San Francisco and Sacramento, where they had free use of an apartment and stayed a while to begin working with the information they had gathered.
They made a 1,000-mile trip across the Nevada desert to Salt Lake City to hook up with Rock/Creek co-owner Dawson Wheeler at the outdoor retailers convention, and then they drove back to San Francisco and eventually went to Los Angeles and San Diego before heading east again through Arizona, New Mexico, northern Texas and Oklahoma and returning to Chattanooga.
"We kind of cut out the Deep South and Florida, but we had plenty of information and some ideas we wanted to go ahead and work on," said Fynn Glover, a 2006 Baylor School graduate who played in 2009 and '10 for the Chattanooga Football Club. "We wanted to save some money and put it toward those ideas."
They camped or stayed in hostels or with friends along the way.
"And we did trail running nearly every place we went," Glover added. "We did a lot of blogs, a lot of photographs, a lot of video. I was blown away by nearly every park we visited."
Ry Glover, a 2009 Baylor grad, left the expedition a couple of weeks early to go to Grenoble, France, for his fall semester in the international exchange program at Appalachian State.
"When we started our planning, we were very big and vague and broad," Fynn said. "We wanted to learn our country and our generation. Our partnership with Rock/Creek helped us shape more tangible goals. Dawson helped us develop the right questions to ask, for example.
"This was an attitudinal survey, and we interviewed over 700 people, about 600 of whom were in our target age group [18-28]. We mostly focused on college students and recent college graduates."
Among their findings were some reasons why 20-somethings and younger Americans are not as active in the outdoors as older groups.
"They're usually in front some sort of screen medium," Fynn said. "But if you want to get people outdoors, it can't be a battle against technology. Technology has to be part of the solution."
In the last month he and Himelein have started a company in the Philadelphia area to "increase outdoor participation through online application." They already have some partnerships with outdoors organizations and retailers but are looking for a "technical co-founder" to develop the website and the application process.
"So far we've got positive feedback, but we're in kind of a testing phase right now," Gover said. "We've got to go from idea to implementation."