You probably know that here at GSI, we love having fun outdoors. You probably know that we love bringing people together with food. What you might not know, however, is how much we love using our affinity for food in the outdoors as a catalyst for giving back.
After all, the only thing better than camping or hiking is camping or hiking with good food.
Because of our passion for outdoor recreation, we want to help teach future generations how to respect, protect and cook in the outdoors. We realized there are a lot of children that don't have any access to the outdoors, so we are trying to provide them with some of the tools to enjoy what nature has to offer.
#GSIGIVESBACK is all about getting kids outside, appreciating the outdoors, and living a healthy lifestyle. Here’s a peek at some of the organizations we support here in our Spokane community and across the nation:
At-Risk Youth Programs
Many at-risk and inner city youth never get the chance to explore the wonders of nature. We’ve partnered with the Four Corners School of Outdoor Education and Big City Mountaineers for over 15 years to donate camp gear for their youth programs designed to get young adults in the backcountry. The Four Corners School sponsors a wide range of outdoor education programs, like the Canyon Country Youth Corps, hiring young adults to complete service projects on public lands in the Colorado Plateau. This program is a great opportunity for underprivileged teens, providing economic independence, a respect for the outdoors, GED completion options, and important job skills.
Big City Mountaineers is an organization based in Golden, Colorado providing wilderness mentoring expeditions for at-risk teens. These trips teach backcountry skills, encourage reflection and appreciation of the outdoors, and provide mentorship opportunities with program leaders. BCM shows young people who have experienced poverty, homelessness, and violence they can find solace and independence in the outdoors.
Founded by former NFL star Mark Rypien, the Rypien Foundation helps families and children in the Inland Northwest affected by childhood cancer. Spokane is home to some of the best pediatric care in the country, but families often struggle financially and emotionally. The Rypien Foundation hosts events and programs, provides financial assistance to families, and provides resources to hospitals to make the lives of these children and their families a little easier.
You’ve probably heard of the YMCA, and you probably have the song stuck in your head now. But you might not know what the YMCA does in your community. We’re proud to support the YMCA of the Inland Northwest since 2009, serving the children and community members of the Greater Spokane Area. We love the YMCA’s promise to teach values of healthy choices, social responsibility, and personal growth. One unique feature of the YMCA of the Inland Northwest is the Camperships at YMCA Camp Reed, a summer camp at beautiful Fan Lake. The Campership program allows low-income kids to be immersed in outdoor activities they otherwise might not have the opportunity to enjoy. YMCA Camp Reed also hosts YMCA Camp Goodtimes, where children diagnosed with cancer have the ability to feel like kids again in a safe, natural setting. We think kids can learn to be outdoor stewards at a young age, and the YMCA gives that opportunity to children of all backgrounds.
Summer Camps for Children with Cancer
Along the same lines as Camp Goodtimes, we’ve been supporting various summer camps for children diagnosed with cancer for over ten years. Organizations like The Cure Starts Now and the Forever Young Foundation are committed to finding a cure and caring for children with cancer. Their summer camps partner with pediatric oncologists to ensure all campers spend a day in the woods without any worries about their treatment. We think all children should be able to enjoy the outdoors in some way, and these camps give kids the ability to be themselves, not their illness.
Boy Scouts of America
Boy Scouts: the quintessential example of outdoor education for kids. Young men in the Boy Scouts of America develop leadership skills, passion for serving others, cooking and survival knowledge, and outdoor stewardship. Scouts participate in hiking, camping, climbing, kayaking, rafting, and more in their local areas. We support organizations that empower future generations to enjoy and preserve our wild spaces; the Boy Scouts of America have been doing it since 1910. Merit badge for you, Boy Scouts.
We can’t teach kids to love nature if there isn’t any nature left. This year GSI Outdoors joined the Conservation Alliance, a coalition of outdoor industry businesses with the purpose of helping organizations preserve our wild spaces. Our business and our lives rely on outdoor recreation, and conservation of recreation areas is a priority to us. We invest in the Conservation Alliance because we support organizations that benefit our outdoor adventuring customers and their families, because their passions are our passions.
Similarly, we support Access Fund, a national organization protecting America’s climbing areas. Access Fund purchases land, sponsors local conservation efforts, participates in activism, educates climbers, and advocates for climbing in government policy. GSI Outdoors is a corporate sponsor of Access Fund because all of us care about access to our favorite natural places for our kids and theirs. Sensing a theme here?
Even if you’re the occasional outdoor adventurer, you’ve hopefully heard of Leave No Trace. The Leave No Trace Center for Outdoor Ethics teaches responsible enjoyment of the outdoors so our favorite recreation areas are preserved for generations to come. They created the famous Leave No Trace Seven Principles:
- Plan Ahead and Prepare
- Travel and Camp on Durable Surfaces
- Dispose of Waste Properly
- Leave What You Find
- Minimize Campfire Impacts
- Respect Wildlife
- Be Considerate of Other Visitors
We’re all about camping and cooking, from #vanlife to weeks in the backcountry. There’s nothing more heartbreaking than when campsites and trails aren’t left the way they were found. Not only is GSI Outdoors a partner of Leave No Trace, we all practice the Leave No Trace Seven Principles when we venture outside and ask our customers do the same.
Our #GSIGIVESBACK efforts are aimed to foster environmental stewardship and a love for outdoor recreation in children who may not normally be able to access the natural world. These organizations are working to preserve access and promote a better future for our local communities and our nation as a whole, and we are pleased to support their great work.