Before Geography Professor Terence Young could walk, he camped.
The San Fernando Valley native’s parents started taking him and his three siblings to Santa Barbara-area recreation sites such as Carpinteria State Beach and Refugio State Beach for affordable family fun when he was six months old.
So when Young was considering a topic for a book, he decided to write about what he knew and enjoyed – camping. In 2017, he published “Heading Out: A History of American Camping.” The book covers the progression of camping from its early start as an impulse getaway for city dwellers to one of the country’s most popular recreational activities.
“Write about what you care about because writing a book is going to be hard work,” he said. “You will bring passion to it because you care.”
That passion recently earned Young the prestigious 2017 John Brinckerhoff Jackson Prize from the American Association of Geographers. The award, which includes a $500 prize, honors American geographers who write books about the United States that give insight into professional geography and are presented in a way that appeals to lay people.
Young was aware that his publisher, Cornell University Press, had submitted his book for contention, but he was thrilled when he received an email from the chair of the committee that awarded the prize notifying him that he won.
“When I found out that I won, I was very happy,” he said. “It’s the best honor I could ever hope to receive from my peers.”
This is Young’s second published book. He wrote “Building San Francisco Parks, 1850-1930” and co-edited “The Theme Park Landscapes: Antecedents and Variations.”
Young said that he sort of fell into geography while in graduate school at UCLA, where he earned a master’s degree and a doctorate. He was drawn to the integrative nature of geography as a discipline.
“A geographer will not tell you, ‘No, that’s an irrelevant aspect of research,’ if you make the argument for why you need to include that,” he said. “A geographer would say if you want to understand camping, you have to look at ethnicity, gender, income level and history. You have to look at a whole slew of things to make it make sense. I like that.”