By Diego Barnes, Common Ground Summer Intern
Trailblazer, the independently and locally owned outdoor retailer has always been a strong ally and supporter of Common Ground. Their enthusiastic support of Common Ground’s mission has shown in everything from yearly Rock to Rock sponsorship to connecting us to a grant through Columbia Sportswear/Grassroots Outdoor Alliance grant and then matching it! These contributions are just the tip of the iceberg.
This July, Trailblazer stepped up again. Among the hustle and bustle of Summer camp a truck filled with 15 boxes packed with outdoor gear was delivered as a donation to our gear locker. Among the boxes we unpacked backpacks, tents, sleeping bags, sleeping bag pads, camping accessories, cross-country skis and many other items one needs to traverse the great outdoors. This donation means far more to Common Ground than a simple re-stocking of our supply closet. Joel Tolman, Director of Development and Community Engagement here at Common Ground responded to this generosity, “Trailblazer’s contribution is a huge addition to our gear locker and will be put to use in several different ways. This equipment will fuel at least a dozen outdoor expeditions for our Adventure Club in the coming year. Freshmen, sophomores, juniors, and seniors, take all-class outdoor trips each year and our Adventure Club also takes backpacking and winter camping trips in the White Mountains, as well as canoe trips and hikes closer to home, and rock climbing trips at local gyms.” This year alone, Common Ground has welcomed 10,000 members of our community to join in our appreciation and engagement with the natural world right in New Haven’s back yard. Because of Trailblazer’s support throughout the last few years we have been able to expand our ever-popular Kids Unplugged afterschool program to quadruple from its original size in 2009. Now with the addition of the outdoor gear received this summer we will be able to offer more vast and diverse activities to these children in what is often times their first hands-on experience with nature. “We’re so glad to have the resources to expand this program. We believe that every kid — including every city kid — deserves a chance for outdoor adventures,” says Rebecca Holcombe, Community Programs Director and the force behind Kids Unplugged. “The research says pretty clearly that kids who get opportunities to explore the natural world are healthier, grow into leaders, are less likely to get into trouble, and even do better on standardized tests.” Through and through Trailblazer has proved their big heart. Karen Brown, Marketing Manager at Trailblazer has said herself, “Trailblazer is proud to support Common Ground in its programs to get all children outside while educating them about our local environment, sustainability and how to lead a healthy, active lifestyle.”