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Mentors and outdoor skills

Children of the Adirondacks are rich in wild lands, clean waters and recreational opportunity. Despite the privilege of growing up in close proximity to a vast amount of natural treasures, many children suffer from a severe disadvantage: they are wealthy in resources, but poor in access.

One would think that since these children live in communities surrounded by an incredible wilderness landscape, they would readily enjoy world-class adventure travel opportunities. Yet, many resident youth lack the necessary skills, education and equipment to fully enjoy the recreational assets available in their own backyard.

The woods and waters of the Adirondacks have hosted the world through two Winter Olympics competitions, the Goodwill Games and three years of ESPN's Great Outdoor Games.

Throughout the year, an estimated 12 to 15 million visitors travel to the region to challenge whitewater on the mighty Hudson River; backpack along the 132-mile Northville Placid Trail; ski, snowshoe or dogsled along numerous trails and old, logging roads; or hunt and fish among the nearly 3 million acres of state Forest Preserve lands.

Paddlers come from across the country to compete in the annual Adirondack Canoe Classic, a 90-mile race that follows a historic canoe route through the heart of the park, while others flock to the High Peaks seeking the coveted title of '46er, after climbing the 46 summits over 4,000 feet in elevation.

Along the fabled Ausable River, flyfishermen pay homage to the feisty brown trout and acrobatic rainbows, while others seek the remote recesses of over 10,000 ponds is search of native brook and lake trout.

Anglers stalk trout along some 30,000 miles of rivers and streams, while the "fish factory" at Lake Champlain continues to draw professional bass anglers to tournaments, where national records are continually established by both the quality and quantity of bass taken.

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