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.
 
We create outdoor adventure opportunities, particularly for people of color and in neighborhoods with a lack of green space. Learn how to get involved below!

 


What We Do

Looking for something to do outside? We’ve got 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 has outdoor gear rentals for you to use for camping, hiking, hammocking, playing yard games, and more – absolutely free. Come visit us at Roosevelt Park Gymnasium this week, or read our frequently asked questions and see a full list of gear you can borrow below. 

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 orientation on how to borrow gear
  3. You can borrow free gear for up to one week at a time!

Once you become a member, you can stop in and borrow gear more quickly without having to sign up again.

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 gearlibrary@grcity.us . We can't guarantee gear availability for groups, and a group fee may be charged.

Are there any fees or other requirements to borrow gear? 

There are no fee's 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. 

Locations and Hours

Headquarters 

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 and Fridays from 2:00 pm to 6:00 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. Orientations can be offered in English or Spanish upon request. Minimum orientation time: 1 hour. Visit the gear library to attend an orientation same day, or email struby@grcity.us to schedule one in advance. 

Check out our current list of gear available to borrow below. Our gear inventory is always growing! 

 

Hiking

  • 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
IMG_6248.jpg

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
DSC_1859 (1).jpg

COVID-19 Protocols

We take public health very seriously. We're taking these steps to make sure our programs are safe:

  • All equipment is sanitized between uses
  • Whenever possible, equipment will sit untouched for a minimum of 48 hours before it's used again

 

 

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 gearlibrary@grcity.us. 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


Partners  

Our work wouldn't be possible without support from our partners and donors. Are you interested in supporting our work by contributing financially or donating equipment? We have sponsorship opportunities available! Please email gearlibrary@grcity.us to learn more.


About Us

Meet Our Team

 George, Equity and Outreach Coordinator - gmiguel@grcity.us 

DSC_1794 (2).jpg

 

Dre, Event Coordinator 

Dre.jpg

 

Raul, Content Coordinator

Raul_Seated2 (1).jpg

 

Sam, Gear Library Supervisor - struby@grcity.us

DSC_1783 (1).jpg

 

 

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