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Come Alive Outside

Connecting communities with nature.

Come Alive Outside fosters joyful outdoor experiences for people of all ages by encouraging play, engaging the community, and increasing equity in the outdoors. Hannaford has supported this nonprofit organization through the Hannaford Helps Community Bag and Bloomin’ 4 Good Programs.

Tell us about Come Alive Outside. 

Come Alive Outside was founded in 2013. The organization started when an informal group of folks from the landscaping industry came together to get people outside in a very general sense. Inspired by a book called Last Child in the Woods by Richard Love, the group felt that kids nowadays weren’t getting the benefits of being outside in nature. According to Love, because of this lack of time outdoors, kids would have shorter life expectancies than their parents. So, this group of landscapers came together and said, “We’ve got to do something about this.”

A lot of us grew up in a time when we went outside to play and didn’t come back inside until the streetlights were on. At Come Alive Outside, we don’t want to see this end. With this in mind, the organization was created and has since blossomed into programming for both children and adults.

Not only do we want people to get outside, but we want everyone to get outside in a way that is meaningful for them. To do this, we encourage communities, organizations, and individuals to get outside, play, and recreate. Ultimately, we help people to live healthier, happier lives as a result of being outdoors and in nature.

Not only do we want people to get outside, but we want everyone to get outside in a way that is meaningful for them.

What services do you provide to the community?

Together with our partners, we do a lot of free events for different communities. One of our favorites is our Jedi Trails event, which happens around May 4th. We like to engage fandoms in a way that makes them curious and prompts folks who may not otherwise get outside much to come see what it’s all about.

Another great event is Area 802, our trail of terror! We take over Pine Hill Park and put up spooky decorations, such as spiders and werewolves. It’s our little fall event that we really have fun with.

This past year, we also took over Winterfest in downtown Rutland. This event is a nine-day extravaganza of outdoor and indoor activities for the community.

Along with these events we host with our partners, we have our own impactful programming. First, we have something called the Passport Program in Rutland County. We give both summer and winter passports to all of the county’s elementary school children. Each kid gets a passport full of hyper-local activities in their backpack. For every activity completed, kids earn points toward a variety of prizes. Now, we even have adult passports on our new mobile app.

We also have our Green Streets program, which runs all over Vermont. We take a bunch of donated sod and roll it out on the street to create an outdoor oasis of grass. The goal is to take an urban setting and open it for people to do outdoor activities.

Our other program is a walking challenge called Mile a Day. This challenge encourages people to walk a mile every day for a certain number of days. For example, our next one is called Mud Fling and is 30 days and 30 miles long. So, not only are we getting alive outside, but we’re also creating new technologies to inspire people to get outside.

What sets Come Alive Outside apart from other nonprofit organizations in your community?

One of our core values is that we’re better together. We work extensively with other local organizations and partners. These collaborations help us reach a more diverse population and expand our impact and mission.

The other element that sets us apart is that we’re playful. We don’t want going outside to be like eating your broccoli. Instead, we focus on constantly engaging play by appealing to fandoms and making things as fun as possible. Hopefully, along the way, we inspire people to move towards enjoying being outside instead of it being something that they have to do.

Please tell us a story that illustrates the good work of your organization.

This summer, Vermont experienced massive flooding. As a result, a family was displaced from their home and ended up living in an RV in their grandparents’ driveway. The entire family got summer passports to keep the kids busy and distracted from everything going on.

This was the first time we had seen a family do as many activities as these folks did. They did all the activities and came to the events. The passports were a way for the family, who otherwise would have been cramped in an RV for the entire summer, to get outside, expel energy, and have fun.

The family ended up having the best summer ever because of what we included in the passports. It really was an example of catastrophe leading to opportunity. We were so happy to be able to help them turn something devastating into something fun and delightful. Through something as simple as encouraging outdoor activities, we were able to help them through the tragedy of having their home flooded and turn the summer into one full of wonderful memories for those kids.

What is your most outstanding achievement or contribution to the community?

The work we do with our partners to increase equity is something we are proud of. We believe everyone belongs outdoors. Unfortunately, there are a lot of underrepresented populations in outdoor spaces. We are proud to work with 30 community partners to expand access and equity to the outdoors. Recently, we received $200,000 to put towards increasing equity. We believe this work is making a big impact. Through this, we are able to get people outside who maybe wouldn’t have felt welcome or included before.

We are proud to work with 30 community partners to expand access and equity to the outdoors.

What do you want people to know about Come Alive Outside?

Collaboration with the community is a big part of what we do. At the end of the day, we simply want folks to find a way to connect to the outdoors that brings them joy.

Not everybody wants to hike a mountain. Not everybody is a skier, and not everybody has the funds to play golf. At Come Alive Outside, we focus on finding the form of getting outside that works for you. If joy outside means walking your dog, gardening or playing hopscotch, that’s great. We want you to do that.

It’s not about having a standard of reaching the top of a mountain. Instead, maybe it is five steps up the trail, and that is good enough. Whatever works for you and brings you joy is good enough.

How will you use the funds received from the Hannaford Helps Community Bag and Bloomin’ 4 Good Programs?

One of the cool things we have been focusing on now is our outdoor gear closet, which is how we would like to use these funds. We have a bunch of gear for both summer and winter activities that people can borrow. This initiative is another way we hope to break down barriers to the outdoors. Looking ahead, we want to create another gear closet closer to downtown Rutland to stock items people might need to have fun outside.

Is there anything you’d like to add?

If anyone wants any additional information about Come Alive Outside, they can look us up at or visit our Facebook or Instagram.

Interview with Haley Rice, Program & Marketing Manager

Published April 2, 2024.