Pokémon GO does Latino Conservation Week

Growing up in a household where both parents brought in little income meant that instead of playing with toys I would need to rely on my imagination for entertainment. My neighbors would prove to be more than just childhood friends; they would become my outdoor explorer companions. We would spend hours playing in el monte, aka the woods, and pretend that the evil witch from the Power Rangers was out there chasing after us. But as the sun would set, we would migrate indoors and continue playing but now on the PlayStation. That Christmas, my parents surprised me with my own atomic clear purple Gameboy and a Pokémon Yellow game. Now I could do it all, be an outdoor explorer and own my own game console.unnamed (1)

Never would I have imagined two of my favorite childhood pass times crossing paths, but just last week Nintendo allowed me the opportunity to experience the hybrid of both.

Twenty years later, the games, the cartoons, and the memories continue to allow me to relive some of my favorite childhood years. I can only speculate, but the creators of Pokémon GO, may have created an answer to the epidemic that is plaguing the Latino communities—nature deficiency and obesity.

With Latinos being one of the fastest growing minorities in the U.S., we are seeing similar growth in obesity trends. Being that Latinos make up 17% of the total US population, more than 77% of Latino adults are overweight or obese, and 38.9% of Latino children are overweight or obese.1 Additionally, only 8% of Latinos engage in outdoor recreation. 2

Though obesity is a chronic problem caused by several external variables, two common causes that may result in obesity are physical inactivity and overeating.3  An additional challenge that may add to obesity is individuals not going outside because of lack of transportation to outdoor spaces and competition with indoor entertainment.

Initiatives like Latino Conservation Week aim to engage Latino communities in public lands, create opportunities to enjoy the outdoors, break down barriers, and become allies in defending our natural places.

So cue Pokémon GO: this app is integrating technology with nature. Within its first week the much anticipated Pokémon GO App has become a must have for die-hard fans and new Pokémon enthusiasts alike.

As the National Park Service celebrates its Centennial Anniversary, Director Jon Jarvis and fellow park rangers spoke about the opportunities this game has in reconnecting visitors to their public lands. 3 Ranger Ollig, Chief of Interpretation and Education for the National Mall and Memorial Parks, said:

IMG_6108“You can catch some Pokémon, you can learn about the sites and the memorials on the National Mall, and come back with a really meaningful experience,” he said. “As long as you’re safe and respectful of other visitors, come on out here and catch as many as you can.”4

The app even encourages people to put in work by walking a certain number of kilometers to hatch Pokémon eggs.  Aside from that, you can’t catch any Pokémon or gain control of a gym by staying stationary. This game motivates users to discover the outdoors spaces that are all over their own neighborhoods.

Pokemon GO’s unique gameplay even aligns with local Washington D.C. initiatives, such as DC Park PX’s short-term goal to:

“Prescribe NATURE to patients and families to encourage outside time in one of 350 green spaces/parks rated in Washington, DC.”

And their long-term goals to:

“Decrease impact of non-communicable chronic disease like obesity, asthma, and mental health disorders AND create the next generation of environmental stewards.”5

 With resources like DC Park PX park locator, DC residents could potentially access local green spaces or parks that are closer than they think.

This or future apps may have the potential of reducing a public health problem while also allowing us to reconnect to our public lands. The popularity of this app could potentially spark a new trend in active apps that take the user’s outdoors. What makes this experience so unique is that it allows users to experience the digital world while being active in public spaces.

While more research into gameplay and nature is still needed, I can only dream for avid game users or technology enthusiast to intergrade nature into their schedule—especially my Latino family. As I reflect on my youth, I come to realize what conservation means to me: living a simplistic life while enjoying and accessing our public lands. This game has provided an introduction to the outdoors to many individuals who otherwise may have not have connected. While the game does make you to visit outdoor spaces, I encourage you all to search for events on LatinoConservationWeek.com to explore and enjoy parks in a unique way. And as you continue to explore our parks for the rarest of Pokémon, please remember to LOOK UP from your screen and enjoy the outdoors.


#FindYourPark #EncuentraTuParque #PokemonGo #LatinoConservationWeek

Albert Arevalo is a Latino Outdoors Ambassador  in Washington D.C. and an Outreach Coordinator for GRID Alternatives. He loves to play tennis, hike, tweet on behalf of @PetTurtleOliver, and play kickball. 

For the third consecutive year, Latino Outdoors joins Hispanic Access Foundation and multiple other organizations across the country to celebrate Latino Conservation Week (LCW), July 16 to July 24.








Julian’s Adventure at Kirby Cove

By Juan Telles

LO California, Central Valley Regional Coordinator



“This week, I had the pleasure of taking my five-year-old son camping for the first time. This post is dedicated to him.”


Julian (aka Little Tigre) is a wild child; his imagination takes him to places that usually involve anything minecraft, zombies, sharks and dinosaurs. His outdoor experience has been, mainly, in our urban parks, trails, and day-hikes in nature. His favorite activity is collecting rocks and sticks to take home. His passion for sticks and stones consequently lead our family and friends to find little treasures in the nooks of our homes and the compartments of our vehicles. He is curious, energetic, and always ready for adventure. Camping with Little Tigre has been something on my to-do list for quite some time. I was inspired by many things to make this happen for my little tiger. More specifically, camping with Chasqui Mom in early May at The Latino Outdoors Campout Conference, the newfound confidence in my outdoor skills, and a new book I bought at The Children & Nature Network Conference, “Vitamin N” by Richard Louv—motivated me to create this opportunity for Little Tigre. Thus, an inspired dad jumped at the opportunity to camp at Kirby Cove in The Golden Gate National Recreation Area.

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We camped with Julian’s Tio Orlando and Tio Clay. These men helped me introduce a new experience to the young nature lover. Upon arrival, we all struggled to set up our tents. The confusion lied in the fact that the tents had been recently purchased, and we had not assembled them prior to our trip.  After an hour, our camp was set, and we explored the site. Venturing around the recreation area gave us three different types of chills: the temperature, wind, and mist gave us the cold chills (This was a world of difference from the Central Valley climate of 100 degree heat.), the beautiful sights gave us the awe-inspired chills, and we all felt the serenity of the space fill our bodies with a relaxation (insert hashtag) chill. I knew Julian was having fun; his main activity consisted of collecting sticks and yelling out, “BANANAS” at random. Now, if you were to ask me, I would not have an answer as to why. However, I could only guess that it meant that he was winning at life. He was bonding with his uncles and father in a very absurdly, amazing way.


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We bonded around the camp-fire: lounging, making fire-sticks, and cooking amazing food like the asada pictured.


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We bonded as nature explorers: on the trail, on the beach, and admiring the features of our surroundings.


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Strengthened the bond between a boy and his elders.



The camp adventure fulfilled something in Lil Tigre. He accomplished feat after feat. He battled the raccoons that threatened to take his food and rip his tent. He found so many sticks and a treasure chest. He slept outside for two nights. When asked about his favorite part, Julian joyfully responds that his favorite activities were, “Eating and making fire.”


Our time at Kirby Cove was epic. I can only hope our next adventure is just as amazing.

For more from Juan Telles, visit him at @onetelles  IG – Snapchat – Twitter


The Moment Climbing Became My Passion – Pain, Loss, and Self-discovery

This blog was originally published in ILooove.It

By Maricela Rosales


Growing up, I would never imagine that as a young adult I would say my passion is climbing. True Story! I grew up in the heart of Los Angeles California. I was born into a working class family that had no true exposure to the outdoors, physical activity, and healthy living. Anything that was related to the outdoors was a risk seen as avoidable. The youngest of two siblings I enjoyed that risk! Willing to climb on a tree, run as fast as I possibly could, and even find my way on top of the house. I was the adventure seeker. Yet, as I got older those motives were suppressed not because I was out of control but because life got in the way. Do you remember growing pains? I do. And they never went away. At the age of seven, I was diagnosed with structural scoliosis. Despite my love for running, jumping, climbing in the school yard I was in constant distress, fatigue, and on many occasions bed ridden. Physical pain became my worst enemy and my companion. Wearing a back brace for the majority of my life was quite the task. Despite my myoskeletal deformity I participated in many sports. I simply yearned to be active. I gave 100% of my effort knowing that my risk wasn’t what you would consider as normal. To miss school after a game, or a dance performance was something very frustrating and quite often. But I never gave up. However, my family feared that my chronic back pain would forever keep me from being the best at something. They always reprimanded me for putting myself in these situations and participating in physical activities. My parents agreed that I should stop before I really hurt myself, I refused. As the years passed it got worse and my weariness ever so prevalent. By this time my dad was battling colon cancer. He knew how stubborn I was and knew how my chronic pain affected me every day. He concerned himself with my activities and always wished my safe keeping. He reminded me to keep a clear head and strong heart. As I left for college I stopped playing sports and lost motivation. I pushed passed as much as I could everyday despite my physical woes.

My freshman year in college my dorm mate invited me to the student recreation climbing wall. I agreed with no true idea what I was going to partake in. Upon arrival my eyes dilated and my back began to ache. I said “Do people really climb that!? Is it safe? I’m wearing a what? Should I trust these college students with my life? I don’t think it’s good for my back” I mustered up the courage and tried it anyways. Peer pressure much, you bet! My body mechanics didn’t understand the concept of climbing a wall let alone know how to trust myself or my belayer. I talked to my dad about people climbing on this rock wall. He said “Es para locos y peligroso- It’s for crazy folk and its dangerous” After that day I didn’t go back. I refused to feel vulnerable and away from the ground and I agreed with my dad. I apologize.

Sophomore year I didn’t know what I loved anymore. I became dispassionate about being active. Was this the end? Was my physical disability going to get the best of me? It did. But by the end of my sophomore year I was ready to turn over a new leaf. I wanted to be strong emotionally and physically for my family especially for my dad who still was battling cancer. I sought out a job the Student Recreation center in hopes that I could find ways to stay active. I made sure my priorities were in order. I was hired to work for the Outdoor Excursions challenge course. The very rock wall that made me fear being up so high, and exposed made me a really safe belayer, a trustworthy individual, and I started to disregard the pain. I began to find my own sense of self.

Junior year I had to put a stop to this physical frustration. My decision to veer towards holistic medicine was one of the best choices I have done for my well being. I found one of the best chiropractors who overtime with many visitations and therapy aligned my center of gravity, reduced the amount of pain I went through, helped me build strength and I grew 4 inches! I was mastering pull-ups, testing my handstand skills and even began climbing at the local rock climbing gym. I slowly became fascinated with the idea of climbing. No longer was I winded, fatigued, or falling bed ridden. I wasn’t competing with anyone but myself, I started to feel physically stronger, my mind stop whizzing about pain and my everyday happenings. I also realized how supportive climbers were; this made me feel comfortable and eager to try more than once on the same problem. Climbing humbled my state of mind and really pushed me to take an appropriate risk even in my daily life. Though I wasn’t climbing full heartily I was very interested. Because of my new found hobby I had a long talk with my dad about climbing; showing him videos and pictures, talking about it like it was the boy of my dreams. From the moment I mentioned taking up the sport for fun he thought it was maddening and feared for my safety. He did see that seeking alternative medicine, and climbing was changing me. He was happy to see me stand tall, be able to pull myself up and lift. By this time he was terminally ill and in hospice.

One cold December day I meet Natalie Duran at the challenge course. Her enthusiasm entices me to venture with her and the rock climbing club to Bishop California. “Happies? Buttermilks? What’s that?” I said. Unaware of any true specifics I say yes before she can even explain! Out of pure excitement I tell my dad my plans for the holiday break. He is uneasy but knows that I will go anyways. I promise that I would come back in one piece. He bids me goodbye and request pictures be taken. Well, when I arrived at the Buttermilk’s it changed me. It was my first outdoor experience. The cold crisp air on my face, the east sierra mountain tops covered with snow and seeing people climb boulders for the first time was simply joyful. Something only you can experience firsthand. To appreciate the stillness of Mother Nature and learn so much from its stillness. T’was beautiful. I call my dad and explain to him what Bishop is like. He sounds like he’s in a lot of pain but is happy to hear I am enjoying myself and of course in one piece. I head home with a new found passion. I couldn’t wait to tell my family. They’ll think I’m nuts. My dad’s reaction will of course will be a conservative one.

It is now February and my intuition is telling me that the end is near. But I deny that my dad is terminally ill. He notices that I stopped talking about climbing and wonders if I am still going strong. “Estas escalando Maricela, tienes fotos para compartir? “Are you climbing Maricela do you have photos to share?” I let him know that I had placed climbing on the back burner because I want to spend every moment I can with him. He asked me for one final request to take him out somewhere even though he wasn’t allowed to leave home. I decided to take him to Mad Rock which is not far from my parents residence. I lift him and carry him to my car and off we go. As we wait in the showroom to be helped my dad begins to look at the climbing photos on the wall, the hardware, and the shoes. He taps the crash pads and ask if they’re sleeping mats. I smile and tell him all about climbing. As we wait for my order to be processed he sits me down and caresses my callus hands and says “Tu escalando ha sido lo mas feliz que habia visto en tu vida por favor no deja de tus pasiones – You climbing has been the happiest I have ever seen you in your life please do not let go of your passions.” I began to tear. I had been waiting for this moment all my life to finally be just within myself. And to have my dad support me even when things weren’t happy and dandy.

Three weeks later I call my dad on my way to San Diego to climb at Mesa Rim he tells me in an endearing tone “Escala fuerte te amo-Climb Strong I love you.” that same day my dad left this earth. He left me with the most powerful words that motivate me every day. My true motivation for climbing comes from the strength of my father who battled cancer for 5 years. Maintained his cool until the very end and supported me even when he was at his weakest. Since then my climbing is passionate, forgiving, and humbling. I want to thank my friends, family, and the climbing community for helping during my darkest hour. This is an uplifting experience. If you have one love one.

With Kind Regards,