Creating the next generation of sports climate leaders

TrailRunMag 16.02.2023

Image: Kurt Matthews












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. 

Initially developed and launched in the US by trail runner Dakota Jones, Footprints is making its way to Australia in partnership with Patagonia, with the very first camp being held from April 20-25 (2023) in Warburton, the lands of the Wurundjeri people, Victoria.

The premise is simple: the camp brings together 20 exceptional people who love to run 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, 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.

Footprints Australia co-founder Simon Harris said campers will be inspired by what others are doing and by what they can do.

“They will 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,” he said.

Image: B Hynes

The Footprints team will be joined by Patagonia 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.

Patagonia’s community sports manager Majell Backhausen encouraged attendees to bring their ideas and share for development.

“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 355,000ha of native forest through the Great Forest National Park proposal,” he said.

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

Applications for the first camp in Victoria are now open until February 22.

Apply here.