Think of a moment as a child when you first felt connected to the outdoors. Now, imagine the things in your life which would be different if you'd never had the availability or access to camping, fishing, canoeing, and other outdoor activities. I can say my career path would have been vastly different, which would have affected my educational choices and even had an impact on those people who are now my fast friends. In a nutshell, my life would be very different today if I'd gone into marketing or finance instead of pursuing interests in natural resources. I want to make sure future generations have those same opportunities to grow in nature.
I didn't realize the impact a proper backpack or sleeping bag could make on a budding outdoorsman, because I was lucky enough to grow up having enough. After working in a preschool setting and seeing young kids show up without proper clothing for everyday weather conditions, I realized for some it would be a real burden to outfit a scout or a kid bound for camp with the essentials for braving the elements in the woods. Gear Forward is a passion project I found while researching and reading about connecting kids with nature and where I found a way to help.
WHAT IS GEAR FORWARD?
Gear Forward is a non-profit organization founded by Scott Gauvin, content creator, former Eagle Scout, and founder of Hiking Forward, an online blog/website. The idea is to help non-profit organizations like United Way, YMCA, Boy Scouts and Girl Scouts of America, and other groups which connect children to outdoor experiences get gear to allow them to have these opportunities. Scott had too much gear as an adult. With a little nudge from his wife, he was downsizing and wanted to donate the gear to help kids. He was unable to find a place and didn't want to simply drop it at Goodwill, knowing it could be put to use in an impactful way if he could make the connection.
Gauvin researched and talked to non-profits--United Way, Boy Scouts - and asked one thing: "is there still a problem with kids having gear like when I was a kid?" Gauvin never really had his own gear while scouting but thanks to a resourceful Scoutmaster he borrowed necessities to stay in scouting. His cohort didn't have much either--kids from all walks of life and backgrounds, kids from the projects, kids showing up with a garbage bag of bed linens for camping.
PAYING IT FORWARD
You can donate to Gear Forward in a number of ways--donating gear, donating to Gear Forward, or by partnering with Gear Forward. Monetary donations can be made securely via PayPal and are tax deductible just as with any of your favorite non-profit organizations. Donating gear is a fun way to become involved, because the transaction is tracked from the initial intent to donate gear all the way to the non-profit organization helping to outfit the youth in need of gear.
Perhaps the most surprising but profound way that you can help is if you are part of a Scouting group or other non-profit organization which connects kids to the outdoors and could use gear, speak up! Contact Gear Forward and someone in the network would be happy to get the ball rolling. Really. We'd love to help get the kids into the woods and on the water.