After a devastating fire that destroyed the City of Chattanooga’s kayak fleet, local retailer Rock/Creek and footwear manufacturer Keen put together a matching grant for $4000 to help the City begin to rebuild their kayaking program.
Sometimes the unexpected happens, and when it does, it is the unexpected partnerships that play an important role in rebuilding a community. Such was the case in April of this year when an electrical fire in the “Red Barn” at Greenway Farms turned into a big loss of outdoor equipment for Outdoor Chattanooga’s OutVenture program. The Saturday morning fire set the barn ablaze and with it went Outdoor Chattanooga’s OutVenture kayak fleet. When the fire was finally controlled a total of 31 boats plus essential equipment such as paddles, personal flotation devices (PFDs) and helmets, were lost.
After the fire, fears began to surface about having to cancel the 2008 kayaking and canoing programs. That fear was becoming a reality when local business leaders from throughout Chattanooga offered a helping hand. After hearing of the fire, Rock/Creek co-owner Dawson Wheeler contacted Outdoor Chattanooga and offered to donate $2,000 to help replenish the supply of equipment. As the extent of the disaster started to be uncovered, it was clear that Rock/Creek’s donation would need to be matched by another company to ensure that the summer’s programs could continue. Rock/Creek approached Keen, a footwear company based in Portland, OR, about matching the donation to the program. Joining forces with a footwear company to replenish lost kayaking equipment may seem like an odd partnership, but Keen’s staple shoe, the Venice H2 Sandal, is highly popular with many professional boaters. Immediately, Keen agreed to match Rock/Creek’s $2,000 donation, increasing the combined donation from the two companies to $4,000. To prevent any loss of time, and with the kayaking season quickly approaching, Rock/Creek also offered to allow Outdoor Chattanooga and OutVenture to borrow their rental kayaks and kayaking equipment.
Chattanooga Mayor Ron Littlefield thanked Rock/Creek and Keen: â€œThe community’s response to the loss at Greenway Farms has been overwhelming. On behalf of the City, thank you for the generous donation and continued support of the OutVenture program.â€ Dawson Wheeler echoed the mayor’s sentiment, thanking Keen and others from the local community for their help: “While we are happy to do what we can for, more importantly we want to serve as a model for other organizations and individuals who will hopefully find a place in their budget to support low-impact outdoor recreation initiatives such as OutVenture.”
Rock/Creek and OutVenture’s relationship did not begin with this year’s unfortunate incident. Rock/Creek employees have often assisted instructors in kayaking and canoing classes hosted by OutVenture. Classes that teach individuals how to roll an overturned kayak are held on Tuesday nights. For more information, contact Outdoor Chattanooga’s OutVenture at (423) 842-6629.
Outdoor Chattanoooga was formed in 2004 after a series of public meetings hosted by the city. The OutVenture program followed shortly after and specializes in community outreach programs that aim to get people active in the local environment. One such program, that was on the verge of being canceled after the fire, is the Rapid Learning Whitewater Kayak Camp that teaches Chattanooga’s youth the fundamentals of safe and enjoyable whitewater paddling. OutVenture offers both day and weekend trips. More information about OutVenture’s programs can be found at http://www.outdoorchattanooga.com/
Rock/Creek has been working closely with Chattanooga’s outdoor community for more than 20 years. In addition to the Company’s efforts with public entities such as Outdoor Chattanooga, Rock/Creek has also awarded grants to locally run private groups. Recently, Rock/Creek, in conjunction with Patagonia, donated $3,100 to the Lula Lake Land Trust. This donation supports an expanding trail network that will ultimately link lands protected by the land trust with Cloudland Canyon State Park. Rock/Creek aims to support responsible, minimal impact access to the outdoor world that will help to educate tomorrow’s stewards of the planet. Rock/Creek’s environmental statement can be read at http://www.rockcreek.com/customer_service/environmental.asp.
Rock/Creek, member of the Grassroots Outdoor Alliance, is an independent specialty outdoor retailer with over two decades of experience in the Southeast. Along with its online shops, RockCreek.com and ClimbingGear.com, Rock/Creek provides quality outdoor clothing and gear for a host of activities including kayaking, rock climbing, camping, hiking, trail running, and adventure racing. Rock/Creek is committed to making a positive impact on the environment. For this reason, it uses outdoor retail as a platform to encourage outdoor recreation and environmental stewardship and to improve public access to the backcountry. Rock/Creek supports worthy nonprofits such as the Southeastern Climbers’ Coalition and the Wilderness Trail Running Association.