Following a decade of financial support, The Coleman Company, Inc. has increased its commitment to the Leave No Trace Center for Outdoor Ethics. Coleman's increased commitment to the group will include funding and participation in a unique educational initiative aimed at kids and younger adults. The Leave No Trace/Coleman Kids Team will mobilize a team of outdoor educators to provide hands-on demonstrations, interactive activities and general education. The team's outreach programs will visit retail stores and other venues to promote the responsible enjoyment of the outdoors.
Since its founding in 1994, Leave No Trace has worked to spread the message that all people must care for the outdoors and use resources wisely. The group's many programs and educational initiatives are focused on values it shares with Coleman, chief among them, that reaching kids at an impressionable age with the outdoor message is critical.
According to Dana Watts, executive director of Leave No Trace, these Coleman Kids Team programs will be executed in retail stores across the country, where Coleman® products are sold and Leave No Trace is a welcome guest. Says Watts, “The program is designed to instill the outdoor ethic in young people and guide them in outdoor pursuits for the rest of their lives.”
The Leave No Trace/Coleman Kids Team activities and information sessions will cater to kids and families with the theme: “Come on out – enjoy what nature has to offer – fish, camp, roast marshmallows, hike, look at the stars, it doesn't matter what you do – just have fun and learn ways to leave the outdoors in better shape than you found it.” The program is in sync with Coleman's own campaign to get people outside by encouraging them to spend more time close to nature, enjoying all that it has to offer.
According to Gary Kiedaisch, Coleman's president and CEO, Coleman's campaign is the core of the company's getting close to nature philosophy. “The positives of young people and families getting outside are simply too numerous to count,” he said. “But chief among them are starting an appreciation of our natural resources. Young people need to know that there is a finite limit to the resources we share on this planet, and we're all responsible for making sure we leave the environment in as good or better shape than we found it. And being outside might even shave a few excess pounds off our young people's expanding waistlines, clearly something we need to work on.”
The joint outdoor-oriented programs in retail stores will include giveaways, product demonstrations, games, poster contests and general information available for all. The materials will be bilingual (English and Spanish) and address diverse activities for kids and their families, including car camping, picnicking, hiking, fishing and hunting. The long-term goal is to help swell the constituency for the intelligent use of natural resources.
The joint Leave No Trace/Coleman Kids Team educational initiative will launch with a pilot program in a few select retailers in the fourth quarter of 2006 and will begin making appearances across the country in early 2007.
In other Coleman news, The company is also entering into a new partnership with the Appalachian Mountain Club in support of AMC's efforts to engage more people in trail stewardship. The joint effort between Coleman and AMC, the oldest non-profit conservation and recreation organization in the United States, will help further the goals of Coleman's campaign to get people outside and will help bolster and broaden AMC's Trails Challenge program to include more volunteers, particularly youth.
With an influx of new volunteers for its Trails Challenge program, AMC seeks to increase its trail stewardship commitment by five miles a year, per AMC Chapter, during the next five years, for a total of 300 additional miles maintained by local volunteers. This will help governmental land management agencies and organizations throughout the Northeast focus on more resource-intensive major trail projects.
“AMC's goal is to maintain 2,000 miles of trail in the Northeast by the year 2010,” said Andrew Falender, executive director of the AMC. “Coleman's generous support will significantly increase the capacity of our trail stewardship and education programs. The AMC and Coleman share a common commitment to youth and community outreach and creating positive experiences for the next generation of outdoor enthusiasts.”
AMC maintains 1,500 miles of trails from Maine to Washington, D.C., including 350 miles of the Appalachian Trail.
“AMC's mission is in complete alignment with Coleman's commitment to make the outdoor experience more accessible and more enticing to all Americans,” said Gary A. Kiedaisch, Coleman's president and CEO. “AMC's trails and education programs are outstanding examples of how to introduce young people to the outdoors and teach them to enjoy and maintain it for future generations.
“We look forward to making an impact on a broad segment of the population with our campaign to get people outside, and AMC and other advocacy groups will be an important part of that effort.”
In addition to Trails Challenge, Coleman will support a number of other AMC programs. The company will provide AMC with financial support, outdoor products for use and testing, and with expert technical support. Coleman's support will help AMC establish a trail maintenance component for two of its programs – A Mountain Classroom and Youth Opportunities Program – which collectively work with 9,500 young people in the Northeast to make the outdoor environment accessible through educational programming. Additionally, resources provided by Coleman will offer AMC assistance to recruit chapter volunteers as trail stewards, reach out to local land managers and identify trails in need of additional maintenance.
The Coleman support will fund AMC's hiring of a Trails Challenge coordinator to engage volunteers in AMC's 12 regional chapters and in local communities near New Hampshire's White Mountains. Plus, AMC is adding an educational coordinator at its Pinkham Notch Visitor Center in the White Mountains.
Beginning this fall, many of AMC's trail volunteers will gather to set program goals, discuss strategies to recruit volunteers, and set a schedule for the trail work. Initial plans include a series of training and trail events, such as family outings for volunteers and prospective volunteers, throughout the spring and summer of 2007. Coleman and AMC will work jointly to publicize these events.