Outdoor Retailer - July 2021 - 15

FEELING THE LOVE
Outdoor Outreach
seeks to flip the
narrative for kids
who have been told
what they can't do.
CASE STUDY
Busting the Myth
Want to make the outdoors more inclusive? Get more people of different backgrounds outside.
IN 1999 CHRIS RUTGERS, A FORMER AT-RISK YOUTH WHO FOUND PASSION AND A PATH AWAY
from an abusive childhood on the slopes, was inspired to create a safe space in the outdoors for
kids from a similar background. That year he founded San Diego's Outdoor Outreach, which, over
the past 21 years, has gotten more than 16,000 kids into the outdoors.
In the beginning, Rutgers loaded his Subaru with surfboards and climbing gear and canvased
Outdoor Outreach gives at-risk kids options with ongoing outdoor opportunities. By Berne Broudy
Annie Sawyer, Outdoor Outreach senior difoster
care centers and schools asking if he could take the kids there climbing. Now, the Southeast
San Diego-based organization partners with foster centers and Title One Schools-schools where
at least half the kids are on free or reduced lunch, and where most of the student population lives
under the poverty level-to take kids surfing, paddleboarding, and climbing. Outdoor Outreach
groups also go hiking in San Diego and play Frisbee in the park in order to show at-risk kids who live
near nature but don't spend time there that the outdoors is a welcoming place, that it's in reach, and
that, with some basic knowledge and skills, they can be safe and have a good time there.
rector of development, says that, in most of the
schools where the organization works, nearly
100% of kids receive assistance and face significant
challenges, including poverty, homelessness,
neighborhood violence, and substance
abuse. " We seek out those kids who could be
defined by what they can't do or can't be, and our
goal is to flip that narrative, " she says.
IT'S BEEN A MASSIVE SUCCESS. ONE OF THE
main indicators and the stat Sawyer is most
July 2021/ OUTDOOR RETAILER 15
Elh Ler Tha via Campfire Collective
https://www.outdooroutreach.org/

Outdoor Retailer - July 2021

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