Re: what exactly are they supposed to do on a nearly zero budget
Some of your arguments don't make sense, particularly that (for hiking), boots, waterproofs, maps, aren't free. I have a couple of pics of my parents' hiking (late 1960s), and while these were more long-distance hikes, rather than 'expeditions', the gear on those pics is just laughable. Actually, no gear, other than military-style rucksacks, the rest is just ordinary clothing, perhaps with a fancy wide-brimmed hat for effect. Maps (including off-road and ad-free apps) are free these days. If you're desperate for gore-tex because, OMG, it's gonna save your life (well done, f.. Gore!), there's a HUGE number of gtx or gtx-style, ex army stuff on ebay, and it's 20 - 50 - 100 usd per piece, from well used, to brand-new. Let alone 2nd hand civvy stuff (the world is drowning in excess clothing). Let alone 'neighbourhood groups' where people give away stuff for free because they no longer use it. Yes, you need comfy boots, but don't need 200 - 300 usd 'high-spec' boots which fall apart as fast as your cheap ones (been there, ex outdoor store stuff).
And, as to youth clubs (which have closed, because something's gotta give, when there's always less and less money to go round, so councils have to cut left, right and centre) - there are, in many countries, para-military orgs run by the state (no, I don't mean those in Russia ;)
Getting 'out there' is a problem, to some extent, but again, the problem is more of a will (or lack of), than lack of options. Again, in Europe, there are many schemes for youths that give them discount off rail travel (from decent to _very_ generous). Sure, you can always argue the nearest rlwy statin is miles away, but generally, the problem of 'youth congregating' happens in towns and cities, so again, this argument generally doesn't work.
btw, I'm only pointing out that your arguments that 'it's too expensive to do outdorsy stuff' is nonsense, I'm not arguing that there's less and less 'open space' for young people, You have council estates which are depressing enough to live in, let alone go out and play, and then you have housing estates, where everything is parcelled up because they can sell up when a new build comes with 'two parking spaces' and 'no ball games allowed'. All this is certainly not the fault of young people that space becomes a valuable asset that can be 'repackaged' and sold because why not and fuck the implications.
btw2, I don't really know, to answer your last question, 'what exactly are they supposed to do"? I have a feeling that the decision-makers don't know what 'options' to provide, because they're no longer in that position themselves (young, no money, no interest), and the young themselves don't know what they want to do anyway. They want to meet, that much they know, but what exactly to do when they do 'meet'? Have fun. OK. What then tends to happen is that you have a constant figure of combined intelligence diviced by the growing number of individuals in a given group, so they end up with a 'let's beat up that old fucker and see if it's fun enough!'