We’ve said it before, and we’ll say it again: outdoor sports are expensive. No matter the activity—skiing, mountain biking, climbing, trail running, backpacking—chances are you’re staring down the barrel of a few hundred dollars to get yourself outfitted from the ground up. (That is to say nothing of lift tickets, entry fees, and lessons.) For many, especially teens and young adults, that cost is prohibitive.
An online retailer called Gear.com wants to help. Now through September 15 people between the ages of 13 and 23 can apply for the company’s gear scholarship. Three winners each quarter (12 in total every year) will receive $500 to buy anything they want from the store’s selection, which includes brands like Black Diamond, Kelty, Goal Zero, and Petzl.
Gear.com is specifically looking for young people with “a genuine passion for the outdoors and a desire to pay it forward to the next generation of adventure seekers,” according to a press release.
Scholarship winners will also benefit from Gear.com’s Give-A-Buck program. Every time you buy something, Gear.com gives you two coupons for 10 percent of the purchase amount—one to use yourself, and one to give to a friend or an organization of your choice. Once scholarship winners are chosen, you’ll be able to dedicate those Give-A-Buck coupons to them. (Scholarship recipients will be listed with short bios on the Gear.com site as you check out, so you can choose who you’d like to give your credit to.)
“We hope [this scholarship program] enables many people—for many years—to jumpstart their newly found passion for the outdoors,” Jonny Atencio, Gear.com’s business development director, said in the press release.
Of course, $500 only goes so far. It’s enough to buy a nice camping tent and daypack, or a basic climbing kit (shoes, harness, rope, draws), but probably won’t get you a pair of skis, and certainly not a full backpacking or skiing kit. That said, it’s also a move we haven’t seen from many other nationwide companies or retailers. Plenty funnel money toward various outdoor user groups, like REI’s Force of Nature Fund, which supports organizations dedicated to getting women and girls outside. Few focus on giving gear directly to young people who can’t afford it, and on giving consumers the opportunity to participate.
Besides, any step toward enabling more people to experience the outdoors is a step in the right direction.