Rather than despairing about the state of our planet, a small group of motivated runners with a deep passion for wild places have launched a new climate leadership camp in Australia.

Words by Simon Harris
Header image courtesy of B Hynes

In 2021, American trail runner Dakota Jones launched Footprints Camp in the US. The trail running camp, which has the tagline, “We all leave footprints; yours can change the world,” is designed as an incubator for climate action. “It’s dedicated to the idea,” says Jones, “that we all benefit from a healthy environment. We want to understand personal and external environmental impacts and find solutions through the context of the outdoor industry.”

Now Footprints is making its way to Australia, in partnership with Patagonia, with the very first camp being held April 20th-25th 2023 in Warburton, the lands of the Wurundjeri people, Victoria. And it’s open for applications now.

Photo taken by Majell Backhausen
Camp life
The premise is simple: The camp brings together 20 exceptional people who love to run (or walk) for five days to bond, develop environmental knowledge and leadership skills, and connect with grassroots organisations that are active in conserving and protecting wild lands through the creation of the Great Forest National Park (watch episode 1 here).
Each morning campers go for group runs (or walk), then spend the afternoons and evenings workshopping their group projects through immersive, collaborative sessions.
Campers will be challenged, have fun, advance climate solutions, and eat delicious home-cooked food whilst working closely with world-class mentors and inspirational speakers such as Beau Miles.
Simon Harris, the Co-founder of Footprints Australia says, ‘Campers will have a fun experience and be inspired by what others are doing, by what they can do, and come away feeling prepared to take action on climate change. We want to provide them with the inspiration, know-how and confidence to be effective climate action leaders.”
Photo taken by Kurt Matthews

The Great Forest Case

You may remember that in Wild Issue #185, the magazine ran an awesome story by Majell Backhausen called ‘The Reason Why’. Majell decided to take on a 275km trail run through Victoria’s proposed Great Forest National Park. On the way, he learned all-too-well why this remarkable country deserves protection.

Majell and Patagonia will be joining the Footprints team in Warburton to support the campers to create projects and initiatives for local environmental groups, including Friends of the Earth Melbourne and Wildlife of the Central Highlands, who have been advocating for the protection of the area for years through the creation of the Great Forest National Park.

Majell, who is Patagonia’s Community Sports Manager, says, “We want runners to bring their ideas, initiatives, and projects to the camp for development to contribute to the ongoing campaigns to protect an additional 355,000 hectares of native forest through the “Great Forest National Park Proposal.”

Photo taken by Kurt Matthews

“As this community of runners and the sport of trail running grows,” continues Majell, “so too will the number of runners who, once they experience and understand our wild places, choose to act, give back, and protect them.”

If that sounds interesting to you, applications for the first camp in Victoria are now open until February 22, 2023. Prospective campers submit an online application where they detail their ideas for a project that addresses a problem to support the Great Forest National Park proposal.

The camp includes food, lodging, instruction, materials, and transportation during the camp. Campers can apply for full or partial scholarships. Apply here.

So come up with an idea for a project, and get involved. As the tagline says: We all leave footprints; yours can change the world.