InsideOutdoor Magazine

Inside Outdoor | SUMMER 2018 12 L et’s face it: out- door sports are expensive. Ac- cording to the Outdoor Founda- tion, one of the top reasons why people over the age of six do not take part in outdoor recreation is they lack the financial means. This is a big problem for the outdoor industry, especially when considering that kids — the next generation of outdoor enthusiasts and buyers — are among those who are impacted. People that do not develop an appreciation for outdoor sports such as backpacking and bik- ing at a young age are far less likely to get involved later on in life. It’s a problem that can be easily solved, though, when you factor in all of the gear that is sitting unused in basements and garages across the U.S. There is more than enough equipment sitting around for under- privileged kids to use — it’s just a matter of getting it into their hands, explained Scott Gauvin, founder and executive director of Gear For- ward, an independent non-profit that facilitates gear donations for youth groups, community organizations and charities. “The outdoor industry is one of the fastest-growing in the country,” Gauvin explained. “That means people who already have gear are buying more and more of it. But there is a gap developing. A huge portion of the younger generation simply does not have the resources to get outside. So the industry is ex- panding, but people who have gear are holding onto it.” This is what led Gauvin to start Gear Forward. A former blogger, Gauvin came to amass a large col- lection of outdoor equipment. When the pile got too big and he needed to get rid of it, a lightbulb went off in his head. Gauvin recalled being a Boy Scout and seeing kids show up for weekend camping trips without the proper supplies. “I knew I needed to get rid of my outside gear,” he said. “I did some research and looked for an organiza- tion like the one that I now run and didn’t find it. There was no one-stop- shop for donating used supplies. I really wanted my gear to go some- where that meant something to me.” Gauvin put together a team, ac- quired funding and was able to start a non-profit. Today, Gear Forward has more than 20 brand ambas- sadors who are working to facilitate donations by spreading awareness and discovering needs. What’s even better about Gear Forward, though, is that it doesn’t just help kids. The organization also offers a unique way to lubricate the sales funnel by encouraging con- sumers to donate their unwanted gear and make new purchases. Plus, it’s a great way for companies to connect with their local communities. by Gerald Baldino Playing it Forward Gear Forward turns old gear into new opportunities for underprivileged kids The Advocates Gear Forward leapt into action after Hurricane Harvey in late 2017 and outfitted a Cub Scout Pack (Katy, Texas) of 50 boys and their families with new sleeping bags, stuff sacks, water bottles, sleeping pads, camp pillows and tents