Outsiders Ball raises $300,000 at OR to get more youth outdoors

Funds will help fund 125 projects supported by local outdoor retailers.

Outdoor enthusiasts gathered at the Gallivan Center in Salt Lake City at Outdoor Retailer Summer Market and partied for a purpose at the second annual Outsiders Ball. The sea of plaid button-downs and synthetic dresses (think “dressed up” for the outdoor crowd) ate, drank and donated to a range of causes and charities focused on getting young people outside and active.


Put on by the Outdoor Foundation, the charitable arm of the Outdoor Industry Association, the event raised almost $300,000, enough to fund 125 projects, but below the $400,000 goal. Organizers are continuing to campaign post show and if you’re feeling philanthropic, click here.

As far as galas go, the ball was rather untraditional. Catering to a crowd that calls sleeping on the ground fun, the ball meshed entertainment and activity to create an interactive event that was anything but stodgy. Once again participants were treated to a memorable mix of auctions, interactive art and live music. Artist and writer Jeremy Collins, who donated a painting to the silent auction, was happy to be a part of the cause: “I’m a dad, and I’m extremely fortunate to have a family that sleeps under the stars and climbs on rocks. I want to be a part of the equation of making that happen,” for others.


Chaco and Prana sponsored stations where attendees gave a suggested $10 donation for a webbing bracelet or a screen-printed tee, respectively. “It’s critical for us and the industry to keep people interested in an active outdoor lifestyle,” Chip Coe, general manager of Chaco, said by way of explanation for why his company participated.

Throughout the night, outdoor enthusiasts mixed and mingled around four pillars, each representing three different organizations dedicated to getting kids outdoors. Attendees could donate to one pillar and have their money split between its three causes or to an individual cause. And thanks in large part to the Square-equipped iPad posse eager to swipe plastic, donating was a breeze. “We wanted people to have a good time, but have them understand these projects and hear about them,” said Stasia Raines, director of marketing and communications for the Outdoor Foundation. “We intentionally made it the center of the event with the hope that that would be a focus of conversation and activity.”

Outdoor Foundation Executive Director Chris Fanning also announced a partnership with the National Park Service through the Challenge Cost Share initiative. The program will leverage public and private funds to support nonprofit projects that focus on urban outreach, youth engagement and connecting people to the outdoors. National Park Service Director Jonathan B. Jarvis, who spoke briefly at the Ball, joined in Fanning’s excitement. “We share this common goal,” Jarvis said. “It’s about our health; it’s about our planet; and it’s about this next generation.”

Next, four outdoor retailers took the stage, each offering a 30-second pitch for a non-profit about which they’re passionate, followed by a 3-minute auction where people raised their paddles and donated sums up to $1,000. “People really participated and stepped up in the silent auction,” Raines said.

Event sponsors GSI Outdoors, Timberland, Primaloft and Confluence Outdoor kept the crowds fed and watered with sweet corn, tomato and watercress salad, chicken skewers and stone-fruit sangria. Other major sponsors included Wolverine Worldwide, Gortex, Vasque, Thule and public relations agency Periscope.

–Courtney Holden