This brief discusses the rates of participation in structured and unstructured outdoor activities as Coös County youth age, along with the relationship between outdoor activity involvement and indicators of place attachment throughout this period. The analysis is based on data collected between 2008 and 2013 as part of the Carsey Institute’s Panel Study of Coös County youth. Authors Jayson Seaman and Sean McLaughlin, who concentrate on a subsample of 222 youth who completed surveys in both eighth and twelfth grade, report that Coös County youth participated in outdoor activities at a rate 20 percent higher than national averages for youth their age between 2008 and 2013. Participation in unstructured outdoor activities remained fairly constant throughout adolescence, while participation in structured activities declined by 50 percent. The most highly involved youth showed the strongest connection to community in twelfth grade, but also reported the lowest commitment to the area. The research described in the brief supports the idea of cultivating youth interest in the outdoors and should be framed as not only a possible source of personal identity and place attachment, but also—insofar as activity involvement helps foster goal setting and affinity for the region's natural amenities—a potentially viable source of economic vitality for future generations of Coös residents.

Publication Date



New Hampshire and New England Issue Brief No. 37


Durham, N.H. : Carsey Institute, University of New Hampshire

Document Type



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