Thanks to the Avi Kurganoff Memorial Fund at the Evanston Community Foundation, elementary school youth at Y.O.U. will embark on a group camping experience next spring to experience the transformative power of the outdoors. Staff from Y.O.U. and the McGaw YMCA’s Camp Echo will lead youth in developing outdoor skills, such as knot-tying for shelter-building, “leave no trace,” and map-reading skills, while youth will also build key social and emotional capacities such as teamwork, respect, and relationship building.

 The initiative honors the memory of Avi Kurganoff, an Evanston youth who tragically passed away in March after an accidental fall while he was attending the University of Vermont. Though only 20 when he died, Avi already planned to leave a mark on his community by studying social work, economic development and the environment. Avi was an avid outdoorsman himself, and he movingly spoke of the outdoors as a place where youth could “believe in themselves enough to take risks and become positive leaders.” Avi’s parents hope to make the transformative possibilities of the outdoors, about which Avi felt so strongly, open to youth in the community.