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Doing More in 2017

Monday, December 12, 2016

Dear DOer,

Time is short, but I think you’ll be glad you read this letter.

As a supporter of our mission, you deserve to know how the Discover Outdoors Foundation has evolved this past year, so we’re pulling back the curtain on some recent strategic changes.

When we launched in 2013, we aimed to get as many kids outdoors as possible. In four years, we’ve guided 1,309 under-privileged students on adventures in nature.

Here’s what’s worked.

Kids from urban neighborhoods were exploring the outdoors for the first time. They learned new skills and gained a curiosity for science and the environment. And our surveys indicate they were more likely to stay in school because they were excited to learn.

But here’s where we weren’t satisfied.

What happens next for these students? We drop them off, and their guided exposure to the great outdoors ends. It’s not fair to expect schools to pick up the baton, nor is it fair to the students to introduce something, and then take it away.  

So here’s how we changed.

At the start of 2016, we refocused the Discover Outdoors Foundation to provide more meaningful, lasting programs that can truly affect a student’s school year and future. Yes, this means reaching fewer students given our current resources. But it also means richer experiences for those students.

In other words, every dollar you donate does more.

Today, one year into our new strategy, we’re working hand-in-hand with five schools. Already, we can see the difference in the kids. It’s incredible. On the first day, our guides build trust and manage behavior. After a couple of days, kids learn to have an open mind and ask for help. After several, students begin to trust each other and set goals. By the end of a semester, the students are on their way to positive behavioral shifts that ultimately lead to results I’ve taken for granted – graduation, a steady job and new possibilities.

These students become leaders in their classrooms, and with a year of outdoor leadership training under their belts, get to help us guide the incoming class. This is leadership in action, and its impact is infinite.

I can’t help but feel that after this tumultuous cultural and political year, and as we look ahead with some uncertainty, it’s more important than ever to develop positive, confident and ethical leaders. On behalf of our guides, board, teachers, staff and volunteers, I want to assure you that this is at the heart of what we do.

Thank you for being on the team, and please continue to support the crucial relationship between our students and nature.

Every dollar does more.

Happy Holidays,

Kirk Reynolds

You can support the Discover Outdoors Foundation at


Categories: People