Thrive Outside Grand Rapids

Photo collage of children getting active outdoors

Who We Are 

We believe all Grand Rapids youth should have equitable access to natural places and spaces for a happy and healthy life.

Research shows that time outdoors, no matter how you spend it, is a key part of a healthy life. Yet, we also know that access to outdoor spaces and equipment is not equitable for everyone. That's where we come in. Through our Gear Library and accompanying programs, we want to see you Thrive Outside.


What We Do

Looking for something to do outside? Our Gear Library has you covered with year-round events and outdoor gear rentals.


The Gear Library

A banner hanging outdoors with outdoor gear icons and text that reads

Our Gear Library facility in Roosevelt Park has outdoor gear rentals for you to use for sledding, camping, hiking, hammocking, playing yard games, and more – absolutely free. As a Grand Rapids resident, the gear library is yours to use! If desired, Thrive staff are available to give instructions on the use of any equipment before you borrow.

To become a member, please come to the gear library. After a membership orientation you will be given a link that will allow you to reserve equipment. Walk-ins are always welcome, but equipment availability is not guaranteed. 


Frequently asked questions

Who can use the Gear Library?

Gear rentals are open to all City of Grand Rapids residents. We focus our efforts in SE and SW Grand Rapids, particularly in neighborhoods where residents have faced disproportionate barriers to the outdoors.

How does the Gear Library work?

For individuals and families 

  1. When you arrive for your first visit, we'll sign you up with a free Gear Library membership
  2. We'll give you a short membership orientation
  3. You can borrow free gear from our community list! If you'd like a lesson on how to use your equipment, please ask.

Please note: before borrowing camping gear, you must attend a camping workshop with Thrive Outside staff. Please contact or visit the gear library for more information. 

For large group outings like classrooms or church groups 

We’d love to talk more and see if we can support your outing! To discuss further, contact staff at . We can't guarantee gear availability for every group, and a group fee may be charged.

Are there any fees or other requirements to borrow gear? 

There are no fee's for residents to borrow gear. We ask that you provide one proof of ID, but we will not keep these documents after you show them to us. Proof of ID can be done with a passport, ID, drivers license, student ID, or piece of mail. 

Gear Library Policies

The gear library  is a resource for the entire community. We just ask that you treat this equipment as if it were your own! We welcome walk-ins, but suggest that you contact us at least a month in advance if you are intending to borrow camping gear or if you need a large amount of equipment. 

  • Loss of membership may occur if the member, or anyone authorized to borrow in their name, misuses equipment. This is according to the below cases, but can be initiated by the gear library supervisor at any time if other abuse occurs. 

    • Damaged or lost gear-If case is severe, or repeated 3 times, lending privileges may be lost. 

    • Stolen Gear- Stolen gear will result in the loss of lending privileges after the first occurrence. 

    • Late Returns with notice- If a lendee informs us that they will be late, there is no repercussion. 

    • Late returns with no notice- If a lendee does not return gear by the due date, without prior notice 3 times, lending privileges may be lost. 

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Locations and Hours


The Gear Library headquarters is located at the community gym at Roosevelt Park (739 Van Raalte Dr SW). The library will is open on Wednesdays, Thursdays and Fridays from 2:00 pm to 7:00 pm, and Saturdays from 10:00 am to 12:00pm. 

Gear Library Inventory

Now offering camping gear! To borrow camping gear, you must attend a free orientation with gear library staff. Multiple orientation dates are available, or you can contact us to schedule a one-on-one orientation. To schedule, click here!

Check out our current list of gear available to borrow below. Have an idea of a piece of gear you'd like us to carry? We'd love to hear it. 


  • Hiking leader backpack
  • Daypack (empty)
  • Youth and full-size binoculars
  • Birding field guides
  • Water bottles
  • Hammocks with straps
  • Compasses
  • First aid kits
  • Fleece Jackets
  • Rain jackets and pants
  • Hiking shoes


  • Tents (3 or 4 person) 
  • 35 degree sleeping bags
  • Sleeping pads (foam or air)
  • Kitchen Kit (everything you need to cook dinner at a campsite)

Outdoor Comfort

  • Bug spray
  • Sunscreen
  • Camping chairs
  • Coolers
  • Picnic blankets
  • Grilling kits (includes lighter, grilling tools, table cloth and charcoal starter kit)

Yard Games and Sports

  • Bocce ball
  • Lawn darts
  • KanJam
  • Ladderball
  • Cornhole
  • Horseshoes
  • Croquet
  • Hula hoops
  • Solo and double jump ropes
  • Portable disc golf basket
  • Disc golf discs
  • Basketballs
  • Futsal balls
  • Tennis rackets and tennis balls
  • Footballs
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Program Support

We empower youth serving organizations with equipment and skills so that they can take their programs outside in new ways. Do you work with youth? Read on below to find out how we can support you. 

Get Started

Organizations who become members have access to all of the same equipment that is in our community inventory list. Additionally, your group may be eligible to borrow camping gear after a skills assessment with the gear library staff. 

We focus our efforts on organizations and after school programs that work with youth who may not otherwise have access to outdoor experiences. 

To get started, set up a consultation with the gear library staff by emailing The team will determine if your program is eligible for gear library support. Once you become a member, the gear library team will be by your side to help with any skill building or gear needs you have to make your plans a reality. 

Examples of Program Support We Offer

  • Invite a gear library staff member to join your group for a hike, walk in a park, or tour of a local nature center
  • Staff training in outdoor skills. I.e dressing for all weather conditions, camping, hiking, and more! 
  • Group quantities of yard games, sporting equipment, apparel, etc
Kids and leaders smiling excitedly at an outdoor Thrive Outside event


Our work wouldn't be possible without support from our partners and donors. We accept equipment and financial donations, and also have sponsorship opportunities available! Please email to learn more.

About Us

Meet Our Team

George Miguel

George, Equity and Outreach Coordinator   


Dre, Event Coordinator  


Raul, Content Coordinator


Sam, Gear Library Supervisor

Initiative Background

About Thrive Outside 

Thrive Outside is a nationwide initiative that was started by the Outdoor Foundation. In April 2019, the Outdoor Foundation awarded grants to Grand Rapids, San Diego, Atlanta, and Oklahoma City.

The grants were awarded to support community networks that collectively provide youth and families with multiple, repeat and reinforcing experiences in the outdoors.

Read more about the Thrive Outside Initiative

About Our Community's Children 

Our Community’s Children was the recipient of the Thrive Grant in Grand Rapids, and closely partnered with the Grand Rapids Parks and Recreation Department to spearhead this initiative.

The Thrive Outside initiative in Grand Rapids builds upon many recent efforts to connect children to nature through community health and wellness, education, out-of-school time programming, job creation, leadership development, and more.

A community planning effort in 2016 – led by Our Community’s Children with support from the Children & Nature Network and National League of Cities – created the vision that drives this work:  

“All Grand Rapids youth have equitable access to natural places and spaces for a happy and healthy life.”

Learn More About the Connecting Children to Nature Initiative