Recreating in the outdoors is a gift—a privilege. A medicine. A way of life. For many, it is their life and has been since youth. But that’s only if they’ve had access to it, and the hard truth is that much of today’s youth don’t have access to it—even in a place as renowned for its outdoor activities as Jackson Hole, Wyoming.
That’s what Coombs Outdoors is for. The foundation strives to empower local youth in Jackson Hole to grow and thrive by reducing barriers to outdoor recreation through programs, mentorship, and community building.
People come from around the world to experience Jackson Hole’s iconic public lands and recreation opportunities. Visitors and residents alike go outdoors to challenge themselves, relieve stress, and find inspiration. But not all locals have that same access—many Teton County families experience barriers to our outdoor recreation culture.
Coombs Outdoors believes that all local youth deserve to experience the outdoors and feel like they belong in our community. The organization seeks to break down these cultural, financial, and knowledge barriers by providing year-round outdoor programming for youth from Kindergarten to high school.
For Coombs’ youngest participants, programs are a chance to play, try new activities, and get comfortable in outdoor spaces. For older kids, programs provide an outlet from challenges at school or at home, time away from screens, a chance to develop new skills, and even an opportunity to work an internship in the outdoor industry. Experiences spill over into the wider community as well as kids begin to recreate with friends or family outside of Coombs programs.
Coombs Outdoors Youth Programs
Teton County youth grow up through our programs from Kindergarten through high school, building community, confidence, and skills along the way. For our youngest participants, programs are a chance to play, try new activities, and get comfortable in outdoor spaces. For older kids, programs provide an outlet from challenges at school or at home, time away from screens, a chance to develop new skills, and even an opportunity to work an internship in the outdoor industry. Experiences spill over into the wider community as well as kids begin to recreate with friends or family outside of Coombs programs.
Coombs Outdoors Founding History
Whether in the remote backcountry or in ski resorts throughout the world, modern skiing is connected to the tracks Doug Coombs left behind. Doug had the opportunity at a young age to alpine ski at a small local ski hill, and the passion he developed empowered him to live an extraordinary life. But perhaps his greatest legacy is the one that lives on in the people he touched throughout his life, both on skis and off. Doug died in La Grave, France in April of 2006, leaving behind his wife, Emily, and young son, David.
Emily Coombs has always been passionate about equality and access, learning early lessons from her mother, who instilled a sense of social justice in both her daughters. While watching her son participate in recreational sports in Jackson, Emily noticed there was a growing disparity between the “haves” and “have nots” in the community she loved. Children from low income families, especially Latino children, were vastly underrepresented on the ski slopes, soccer fields, and hiking trails of Jackson.
In September 2012, Emily launched the Doug Coombs Foundation in Doug’s memory, the perfect marriage of her passions and Doug’s, inspiring children from low-income families in Teton County to reach their full potential through outdoor recreation. By the end of that first winter, Coombs had enrolled 28 children in the Snow King Mountain Sports School, providing ski rentals, ski instruction and lift tickets. Over the years, the organization has grown to nearly two hundred children and expanding beyond skiing to in activities like hiking, rock climbing, and kayaking, engaging children and youth year-round.
Emily Coombs stepped down from her leadership role in the organization in June 2018, and in August, 2019, The Doug Coombs Foundation became Coombs Outdoors, to better reflect the work that we do. Today, Coombs Outdoors carries on Doug’s legacy of helping others achieve their highest potential and Emily’s legacy of ensuring that all kids have a chance in life. The children and youth of Coombs Outdoors have an opportunity to experience the joy of a variety of outdoor activities, to follow their dreams, and to live their own extraordinary lives.