OARS Renames Foundation “The Pam & George Wendt Foundation”

7 August 2018

On Pace to get more than 500 Under-Resourced Youth on Rivers in 2018

OARS, the veteran adventure outfitter, is excited to announce they have changed the name of the OARS Foundation to “The Pam & George Wendt Foundation” in honor of their founders.


The Pam & George Wendt Foundation provides meaningful guided river rafting and outdoor adventure experiences for under-resourced youth and young adults. Our goal is to provide access to the outdoors in order to help foster the next generation of environmental stewards and active outdoor enthusiasts. We believe that outdoor adventures can empower young people, promote personal well-being, and inspire them to discover a deeper appreciation for our rivers and environment.

The late George Wendt founded OARS with his wife, Pam, in 1969 after he realized that many of America’s special wild places were under threat. He made it his life’s work to share, fight for, and preserve public lands and wild rivers for future generations. In 2009, George created the OARS Foundation with the vision to connect young people to one of the world’s greatest resources—our natural environment. By partnering with OARS, the Foundation has access to OARS’ permits, skilled guides, and a multi-use camping facility in California.

In 2017, with support from the OARS Foundation, OARS ran at least one donated trip for under-resourced youth out of each of their operations in the West, including trips for Latinx and Native American youth, an overnight kayaking trip for adaptive athletes in the Tetons, and one-day river trips for nearly 300 kids on California’s South Fork of the American River.

“One of our students said it best when asked to reflect on the trip: ‘The river’s especially given me hope for life and hope for my dreams. No matter what, the river always keeps moving. If there’s an obstacle in its way, it wears at it until it overcomes it. That’s extreme determination and that is something that I’m going to keep working on in myself. The river’s changed me into who I am now, from who I was back then,’” Scott Partan, summer program director of SOS Outreach said. “This combination of being introduced to a new outdoor activity in one of the most amazing locations in the world, the coolest river guides on the planet, and the lessons of the river will enable our youth to carry this trip and the lessons learned with them for the rest of their lives.”

For 2018, the goal has increased and the California-based outfitter is on pace to run fully-subsidized one and two-day river trips for more than 400 youth in California, plus a series of one- to four-day outfitted trips in Idaho and Utah for another 100+ kids.

“The first wilderness experience for these kids is the beginning of what we hope will be a lifetime love of the outdoors” said Steve Markle, OARS vice president of sales and marketing. “George often said, ‘we save what we love and we love what we know.’ It’s up to all of us to make sure our kids and grandkids get to know wild places, wild rivers and a sense of adventure. We believe that every child, regardless of where they live or their background, deserves access to our common waters.”

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