Roughly 100 people from the adventure travel and outdoor communities joined together on July 25 at the first AdventureConnect held in Denver, Colorado, during Outdoor Retailer, North America’s premier outdoor gear trade show. This was the first summer Outdoor Retailer event since moving the show from Salt Lake City, Utah, to Denver, providing an excellent opportunity to introduce outdoor gear brands to the local adventure travel community.
The event was a true coming together of partners, taking place away from the trade show at Wayfinder, a local co-working space and home to small businesses and several members of the adventure travel community. It was co-hosted by the Adventure Travel Trade Association (ATTA) and the Adventure Travel Conservation Fund (ATCF), a non-profit organization designed to preserve the places and people around the globe we most enjoy. The ATCF raised more than $12,000 USD over the course of the evening with a silent auction. Attendees also enjoyed a trip giveaway and donations for beer and other prizes. A special thank you goes to Imvelo Safaris for the most anticipated moment of the evening: a grand prize giveaway for a five-night stay and guided safari experience for two at the Imvelo Zimbabwe property.
“We were thrilled to see the outdoor and travel communities show up to support the Adventure Travel Conservation Fund,” said Soraya Shattuck, ATCF’s executive director. “While it is obvious the two industries have immense overlap in their interest to conserve the places we travel and play, it was great to see these two powerful forces physically come together to network, share stories, and raise some funds.”
Hearing the conversations take place between outdoor gear brand representatives and adventure travel community members, we are reminded why these two industries play so well together — both believe in exploration, preservation, and discovery, whether on a global or local level, as a means to enrich our lives and engage in connection. AdventureConnect Denver is one small example of that, with both the outdoor gear and adventure travel industries coming together to support the ATCF.
This sense of unity was also reflected at the Outdoor Industry Association’s annual breakfast, where attendees were reminded of the importance of inclusivity and making rich, outdoor experiences available to everyone. Illustrating this point, participants of Environmental Learning for Kids (ELK), a Denver youth outdoor program, shared their personal experiences of real and perceived challenges as minorities participating in outdoor activities, describing moments where they were unwelcome in a public campground or unable to access transportation to the mountains. Through funding and donation programs, the outdoor gear industry is stepping up to make a positive change, and the adventure travel community has an opportunity to partner with those brands to provide experiences today’s youth and underserved communities wish to have. By coming together and engaging in conversation at events such as the AdventureConnect, our industries can more closely collaborate for a bigger impact.
The ATTA and ATCF would like to extend a special thank you to our hosts, Wayfinder Co-op, including Joe Ewing and Britten Ferguson, and beverage provider Epic Brewing. We would also like to thank REI Co-op and NRS for the gear prizes and the following partners for silent auction items: ExOfficio, REI Adventures, Eagle Creek, Angama Mara, Ibex Expeditions, Volcanoes Safaris, Mountain Lodges of Peru, OARS, Grayl, Osprey, Hydro Flask, OARS, Lifestraw, Noah’s Ark, Mountain Khakis, Craghoppers, PMI/Stanley, and Northern Outdoors Adventure Resorts.