Closing the Nature Gap

Did you know that those who have access to nature have been found to have increased happiness and a better sense of purpose? Increasingly, more studies are finding that access to nature is not only beneficial for our physical health but our mental health as well. So, why don’t more people spend time outdoors? The answer might not be as simple as you think. Cue the “Nature Gap,” a significant issue affecting access to outdoor spaces and their benefits. It’s a disparity that impacts communities of color and low-income households, denying them the benefits of spending time in nature. Luckily, there are organizations like our April Charity of the Month, Camptown, working to narrow the gap and provide nature experiences to youth in our communities. 

Nature’s impact

Nature is a special teacher. In it, you are exposed to its beauty and rigorous challenges. Over time, through immersion in the outdoors, Camptown sees young people flourish—their character refined, confidence bolstered, and skills developed and honed. Camptown provides youth with the opportunity to experience nature first-hand, often for the first time. Through these new experiences, the staff and program leaders have seen children go from being nervous to hike to begging to go for one more lap around the park.

We often take for granted access to nature and the beauty and lessons it offers. Camptown works to ensure that all children can have these experiences. This is why it partners with local schools and other community-based organizations to provide programming and services to children regardless of economic background. In 2023, 86% of Camptown program participants received financial aid to be able to attend.

Providing new experiences

Nature can be experienced in a variety of ways, and we admire the diverse programming Camptown offers to make nature accessible to all. From day trips to weeklong adventures, Camptown offers a program to meet children where they’re at in terms of their experience with nature.

Camptown adventures take place primarily on public lands throughout the United States such as state parks, state forests, national parks, national forests, rivers, and occasionally on private properties. Its staff has experience in hundreds of outdoor locations in Central Indiana and far beyond, including dozens of wilderness locations that have been vetted for youth experiential learning.

Programs offered by Camptown include:

  • Wilderness Adventures – Wilderness Adventures begin with pre-trip training topics including wilderness survival, backcountry skills, equipment, environmental stewardship, team building, and leadership skills. After training, groups will spend time in the great outdoors!
  • Natural Wonders Day Camp – Held at nearby parks, the Natural Wonders Day Camp consists of a variety of outdoor activity stations, allowing the students to explore outdoor recreation in a safe environment. Activities include fishing, nature hikes, games, and canoeing.
  • Trailblazers Program – This program is designed for youth with differing abilities designed to help them look beyond their disability and see that they can do anything they put their mind to.
  • Youth Leader Adventures – This program is designed for youth who choose to further develop their leadership, decision making and professional skills.

Showing Support

We deeply admire Camptown’s commitment to wellbeing through nature experiences. Wellbeing is a critical component of our Purpose, and there is no doubt that these experiences improve the overall wellbeing of youth in our community. In addition, we are honored to be partnering with Camptown this summer through the MJ Foundation. We will be sponsoring A Natural Wonders Day Camp experience for the children attending Dayspring’s Camo Discovery. Dayspring is our Indiana Charity of Choice, and every summer it hosts a summer camp for the children currently at the local homeless shelter and for the children who used to live at the shelter. We are so excited to partner with two local non-profits and play our part in closing the “Nature Gap” in Indianapolis.

If you feel inspired to get involved with Camptown, please email