By Andrea Brown Herald Writer
Go outside and play.
That’s what the guy with the big pearly smile would have wanted.
And that charismatic guy, Larry Ingalls, has a foundation to make it happen.
Outdoor Youth Connections carries on the legacy of the avid mountain climber who died in a 300-foot fall on Lewis Peak in 2006.
Started by his widow, Sandra, and several fellow Everett Mountaineers, the nonprofit foundation donates money to programs for youths to hike, camp, canoe and explore life beyond the playground.
“I was determined to have his spirit live on,” Sandra Ingalls said. “We are at a crisis stage where people live in apartments and condos and are tied to video games. You really need to start influencing them at a young age to create that interest to embrace nature, not only to protect it but to enjoy it.”
She said it reflects the motto written, and often expressed, by her late husband: “Revel in the accomplishment. Know the beauty and solitude of the mountains. Experience the joy of the comradeship. Find my spirit here.”
The foundation’s annual wine tasting and auction fundraiser will be held March 3 at Rosehill Community Center in Mukilteo.
Outdoor Youth Connections funds youth in need and projects that fit with the mission to connect them with nature and outdoor adventures.
“One of our first awards was to two children for gear to go snowshoeing and for warm clothing,” Sandra Ingalls said.
Another award was for a teen to take a Mountaineer climbing course.
Recent contributions went for a teacher to take a class on an ecological field trip and toward camp scholarships at North Cascades Institute.
The institute’s Youth Leadership Adventures camp is the first wilderness experience for many teens.
Campers carry basics into the backcountry. No cellphones, videos games or iPods.
They bathe in lakes, sleep in tents, cook over fire and are up at 6 a.m. Breakfast is oatmeal. Bathrooms are starlit.
“It turned my black-and-white life into a rainbow,” wrote Jinyanzi Luo of Seattle.
Another Seattle teen, Laura Gillespie, wrote: “I experienced the beauty of nature first-hand while learning about its fragility. … I’ve always known that we’re all supposed to be ‘eco-friendly.’ But it wasn’t until this trip that I started to take this idea personally.”
The campers also do service projects.
Most importantly, they are exposed to a world outside their comfort zone, and that’s the goal of Outdoor Youth Connections.
“It lights them on fire to get down and dirty and really embrace nature,” Sandra Ingalls said.
“We want this to be a life-changing event they will carry with them in whatever endeavor they do.”
And with that, they carry on a bit of Larry Ingalls’ passion.
“We all need this,” she said. “Not just children.”
The Outdoor Youth Connections wine-tasting fundraiser, including hors d’oeuvres, music and a silent auction, begins at 3 p.m. March 3 at Rosehill Community Center, 304 Lincoln Ave., Mukilteo.
Cost: $35 per person or $60 a couple.
More info: www.outdooryouthconnections.org.
Youth Leadership Adventures
The summer camp in the North Cascades is for teens ages 14 to 18 from Washington and Oregon with no outdoor experience.
During 8- and 15-day expeditions, students canoe, camp, backpack and complete service projects. Gear, food and transportation (from Everett and other sites) is provided.
About 80 percent of participants receive a full or partial scholarship for the camps, which cost $985 to $1,845.
Scholarship application deadline is April 1.
More info: www.ncascades.org/youth.
Training and trips for hiking, canoeing, snowshoeing and other outdoor recreation. For more information: www.everettmountaineers.org.
Andrea Brown; 425-339-3443; email@example.com