July 2019 Newsletter
Meet Our Forest Friends Hiking Group!
The Forest Friends hiking club is our introductory summer outdoor program, where kids in Kindergarten through 5th grade get started hiking in the Tetons. Forest Friends meets once each week to explore trails in Grand Teton National Park and Bridger-Teton National Forest, learning about wildlife and basic trail practices while having fun outside with their friends.
In the first few weeks of summer, Forest Friends learned how to read trail maps from a Wilderness Ranger, journaled in their nature notebooks in Game Creek, hiked up Snow King, and splashed around alpine lakes in Grand Teton National Park. Summer is off to a great start at the Coombs Foundation!
Favorite part about summer hiking club: "That I get to run on the trail wherever I want!"
Favorite part about summer hiking club: "When I get to take off my shoes and play in the mud because it's fun to be allowed to get dirty."
Favorite part about summer hiking club: "Drawing my own map outside so I can find my way home."
Find us on the Trails!
2019 Summer Program Overview
Forest Friends (Elementary School)
Hiking groups meet Tuesdays and Wednesdays for activities in Grand Teton National Park and Bridger Teton National Forest.
Be REAL Outdoor Adventures (Middle School and High School)
Kids and mentors meet Wednesday evenings for skill-building workshops, with activity days on Thursday and Saturday. Activities include hiking, rock climbing, kayaking, rafting, and more!
A Note from our Executive Director
The Fourth of July always brings about a little bit of childhood nostalgia for me. I grew up in a mid-sized city on the west coast, in a close-knit neighborhood filled with young families. The Fourth of July parade was always a highlight of the summer—we would decorate our bikes with red, white and blue streamers and parade to the “round park” where the entire neighborhood would gather for hot dogs, corn on the cob, and watermelon. For that one day, we carved out our own small town in the midst of the city.
In Jackson, we sometimes get lost in our sophistication and our extraordinarity, but at the Fourth of July parade, we are small town America at its finest. People lined the parade route last Thursday morning—often three or four deep—waving American flags and cheering at the passing floats. Local businesses, non-profits, and political candidates came out in force, with decorated floats, flags and banners, tossing candy to kids on the side of the road. What struck me was how genuinely joyful everyone seemed. In that moment, we were one community.
When we turn on the news, all we hear about are the polarizing topics that drive us apart. But on this one sunny morning last week, no one asked the person next to them what they thought about Trump. No one argued over the border wall or Obamacare. Everyone was there to celebrate the best of America, where we still believe that every child should have the opportunity to strive for greatness and create their own future, in spite of the obstacles society may put in their way.
This was most poignant for me parading along with 50 kids and parents from the Coombs Foundation. A large percentage of our families are Latino, some immigrants, others born right here in Jackson. It’s easy to feel like an outsider when you aren’t a part of the majority culture and your family doesn’t have the same resources as your classmates. But as I watched our kids march with the same pride and joy that I saw in their peers around us, what struck me was the sense of belonging, of community. My hope is that every child in Jackson grows up believing in the increasingly elusive “American Dream” – that every child believes they can achieve their dreams.
May your life be filled with that Fourth of July sense of joy, belonging, and hope all year long.
Mary Erickson, Executive Director