Trailblazers unplugged yet connected

Recreation, education and conservation. Trailblazing Hope Outdoors checks all the boxes.

The new local nonprofit organization introduces aspiring adventure seekers, in grades 6-12, to the great outdoors with a variety of engaging activities. According to founder and lead adventurer Jonathan Slider, the immersion in nature, coupled with structured programs, provides a wide variety of benefits. Slider has learned from experience how valuable nature can be.

“My love for the outdoors is huge,” he said. “The calm and peace when you come back from a trip, the mental clarity you experience when you are in nature, there’s nothing like it.”

The program is designed to help the young adventurers learn more about nature, themselves and each other. Trailblazing Hope Outdoors is comprised of two major components – outdoor programs and adventure experiences – with a single overarching objective.

“I want to create lifelong lovers of the outdoors,” Slider said.

Outdoor programs

It all starts with a solid foundation.

Four different four-week foundational outdoor programs are held throughout the year to introduce students, from middle school to high school, to the great outdoors. Fresh air, physical activity, hands-on learning – not to mention new friendships – make for memorable outdoor experiences.

Each program has a unique theme and includes instruction as well as practical experiences. Participants can begin with any program in the series.

Winter – The Basics

  • Leave No Trace
  • Basic first aid awareness
  • Basic land navigation
  • Connectedness and mindfulness

Spring – Camping Essentials

  • Leave No Trace
  • Gear and campsites
  • Campfire building
  • Camping extras

Summer – Our Planet: Conservation

  • Leave No Trace
  • Trail clean day
  • Our planet (naturalist)
  • River sweep day

Fall – The Backcountry

  • Leave No Trace
  • Backpacking
  • Primitive camping
  • Know way out

Adventure experiences

Upon completion of a four-week outdoor program, participants can take part in an adventure experience. Adventures take place on land or on water, on two legs or two wheels, as they include orienteering, rock wall climbing, kayaking, rappelling, ropes courses, mountain biking and backpacking.

Close to 70 trailblazers have already completed one of the four-week outdoor programs and are ready for an adventure. Trailblazing Hope Outdoors partners with local organizations like the Miami Valley Orienteering Club and Five Rivers MetroParks to create engaging educational experiences.

“We want to provide an introduction, plant a seed, and expose them to the things they can do outdoors,” Slider said.

Trailblazing Hope Outdoors spring program

What: Camping essentials program will cover the basics of preparing and planning for a camping trip.

Who: Students in grades 6-12, participants must be able to hike at a slow-to-moderate pace for 2-3 miles

When: Wednesday program – April 7, 14, 21, 28 from 4-6 p.m.; Friday program – April 9, 16, 23, 30 from 4-6 p.m.

Schedule: Week 1 – Leave No Trace; Week 2 – Campfire setup and gear; Week 3 – Campfire building and techniques; Week 4 – Camping extras

Where: Various Greene County Parks & Trails locations

Cost: Free (recommended donation $25)

More: Visit for additional information. COVID-19 precautions will be adhered to.

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