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New Treks is a Denver-based nonprofit that strives to increase youth access to the outdoors by providing enriching outdoor experiences for students across Denver. We operate as an outdoor elective class at Title 1 Schools in Denver Public School District and Jefferson Public School District, as well as partner with transitional housing facilities to provide summer programming for their youth and families. 

Our goal is to normalize outdoor education and to create the next generation of stewards. Through experiential and social-emotional learning we encourage youth to foster a sense of self, a familiarity with nature, build community, gain confidence, and create new opportunities.

"At New Treks, we offer more than just afterschool programs or a one day adventure. I wanted New Treks students to have a foundation they could rely on and grow into outdoor stewards in their own way. I wanted to bring the knowledge of not just the adventure sports but the self management, group management, safety, teamwork, and so on to a demographic that I know can grow from it." - Andy, New Treks Founder

What are the barriers to the outdoors and how do we address them?

The main barriers to the outdoors are money and education. Money opens up access to recreation by translating to time, gear, and transportation. The educational barrier includes knowledge surrounding safety, permits, planning, and everything that makes an outdoor adventure enjoyable and memorable. We address these barriers by directly working with schools and organizations, as well as providing all the gear and transportation required to get to and from adventure sites. This eliminates the cost to youth and families. We also focus on teaching in schools as a class to build confidence in a progressive teaching style in an environment they are comfortable in before bringing them into the outdoors.

How does programming work? 

It is our goal to normalize outdoor recreation for students by bringing it into the classroom every day. During the school year we focus on our teachings in class, while offering full days and overnights during breaks. In this way it becomes something they feel comfortable with rather than something that feels foreign or intimidating. We tailor our lessons to meet the needs of the schools and offer half day and full day opportunities during the school week. For example, we operate an outdoor adventure enrichment course at Kepner Beacon Middle School, and we were able to bring our class out to Evergreen for a full day of outdoor climbing in September. During the summers we work with various organizations who want to get their youth and families outdoors and active. As we grow, we are offering various overnights, extended Colorado National Park trips, national and international trips. Our focus for next summer is our Iceland camping trip!

Meet the team!

Andy

I designed New Treks to work with underserved youth because I grew up in a similar situation, which helps me relate to our students and youth. After serving in the Military I spent time traveling, which gave me my initial exposure to hiking, exploring, and the outdoors. This ignited my passion for the outdoors, so I attended a school for Outdoor Leadership. After working as an outdoor guide, I realized what a healthy outlet the outdoors is to destress and build curiosity while also being able to push my limits and grow. I expanded my knowledge into various outdoors skills and then entered education. I noticed a gap in quality and offerings at various schools, which was usually determined by money. I decided to found New Treks with the goal of removing the barriers that restrict access to the outdoors.

Linnea 

I grew up outside, thanks to my mom. She got me on skis at three years old, and took my brother and me on our first backpacking trip when I was seven We grew up backpacking, skiing, and rafting with our cousins - that was how we spent every "vacation," tromping around the Sierras, floating down the South Fork of the American, and getting real dirty. My half brother was born when I was 12 and was diagnosed with autism two years later. Growing up with Roman, I was exposed to the world of disabilities at a young age, and how to work with children with severe cognitive disabilities and behaviors. I didn’t realize it then, but Roman would largely shape my adult life. I decided to teach skiing in Colorado for a winter...which turned into three winters of teaching adaptive skiing, which turned into a career path of working in the outdoors with underserved communities. Roman has inspired me to help lower barriers to the outdoors, because the outdoors can offer so much to anyone who is able to access it. 

Elena 

I grew up in the city of Boston, and honestly didn’t spend very much time outdoors until I got to college, but I took an environmental science course in high school that changed my perspective on the world and I decided to move out to California to study environmental education in college. The more involved in outdoor recreation that I became, the more I realized that the entire industry is severely lacking in diversity, and is excluding an entire population from experiencing these activities. I decided to focus on education because I feel that knowledge is the best tool in creating access for as many kids as possible. 

LAST UPDATED

May 22, 2023

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Elena Costa-Smith

Elena began working as an outdoor guide while attending the University of California, Santa Barbara, where she received her undergraduate degree in environmental science with an emphasis in education and social justice. After college she moved out to Colorado, where she continued traveling and pursuing her passion for education and accessible outdoor recreation. She is excited to be working with youth again, and hopes to eventually go back to school to become a certified teacher!

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