In 2015, Trips for Kids Vancouver Society (TFKV) will be celebrating its 15th anniversary of getting youth with barriers outdoors and onto a mountain bike. Since 2001 we have provided free access to Vancouver’s outdoors for over 3000 youth and have had the longest running Sea to Sky Charity wholly committed to giving urban youth the opportunity to experience the splendour of the BC Coast Mountains.
This accomplishment is thanks to the blood, sweat and tears of our volunteer board who can best be described as 'Gen-Shore' – the Vancouver freeride scene evolution of the late 1990’s and early 2000’s created the culture, critical mass of support and general bike stoke necessary to fuel TFKV for its first 15 years. To celebrate we have pieced together a photo essay chronicling TFKV's first 15 year's in Vancouver that starts just below. This is as much a celebratory piece as a call to to action for the Sea to Sky Mountain Bike community.
In telling the TFKV story, there is very cool piece of collective mountain bike history that is bigger than Vancouver – a history that connects mountain biking’s twin progression hubs, Marin County and the Shore, to our sport’s largest grassroots movement, Trips for Kids. As such - there is a story here for all Pinkbike readers whether you're sitting front of your computer in Canada, the US, Europe or Africa. As you follow the evolution of our sport from its birthplace on Mt. Tam to the birthplace of freeride on the North Shore, you also follow the evolution of our sport's largest grassroots movement, Trips for Kids.
Celebrating in 2015
In order to ensure TFKV’s next 15 years in Vancouver, we need the support of the local riding scene and to attract the next generation (Gen-duro?) of TFKV advocates. Our mission to ensure the long term sustainability of the TFKV program is to become the Sea to Sky mountain bike community’s preferred charity and will be rolling out this motto throughout 2015. To celebrate our 15 year milestone, we are bringing back our 9th Downbeat fundraiser on June 3rd at the Fox Cabaret on 7th and Main. Get your tickets now!
Furthermore, we have launched possibly the world’s first community-supported Enduro team with athletes “Riding for TFKV” all summer long. Look for TFKV riders at the NSMBA Fivers as well as the Sea to Sky & BC Enduro Series, and finally the Crankworx Whistler EWS stop. tinyurl.com/TFKVancouver
15 Years on the Shore - the Untold Story of Trips for Kids Vancouver
This is the untold story of Trips for Kids Vancouver Society (TFKV) – a grassroots charity that was at least partially catalyzed by the emergence of Vancouver as a freeride mountain bike mecca in the late 1990’s.
While the motivating factor for this piece is to celebrate TFKV’s 15th anniversary of getting kids outdoors, I’ll also focus on the shifting of the centre of gravity of the mountain bike world towards Vancouver in the 90’s and how this created the culture, energy and critical mass of volunteerism, drive and general bike stoke necessary to fuel TFKV. Call it a collective history piece intended for a global audience! TFKV has quietly evolved since 2001 into a sustainable program that has provided access to Vancouver’s outdoors for over 3000 youth with barriers through its mountain biking day-trip programs. Here goes the story of our history…
Around 2001 if I recall, the twin energy capitals of the mountain bike world were Marin County, California – the soul of mountain biking with our sport’s birthplace on Mt. Tam, and the gnarly roots, rain and ladder bridges of the North Shore that was the birthplace of freeride – mountain biking’s second act. Not coincidentally then, the Trips for Kids program and first chapter emerged out of Marin County with a Vancouver chapter emerging later. What is very cool is that Marin County – mountain biking’s birthplace, also gave rise to our sport’s largest grassroots non-profit movement Trips for Kids® that has spawned into 90 chapters worldwide and provided access to the outdoors to over 140,000 youth. That connection is not widely known or publicized within our sport. Now onto the Vancouver connection….
When the focus of the mountain bike world pivoted to the Shore in the late 90’s, Vancouver briefly became the de facto freeride capital, spawning a generation of riders and a BC-based industry that has been a source of the volunteerism and support necessary to drive TFKV forward from its founding in 2001 as only the ninth Trips for Kids Chapter. Thus, both of mountain biking’s twin hubs of progression laid the foundation some of the earliest chapters of our mountain biking’s largest grassroots movement. Pretty cool connection huh?
Picture says a thousand words. Getting kids outside, into nature. This is what TFKV does best. Circa 2002 in Pemberton and this shot is definitely a historic scan of a film picture! TFKV history.
The effect of the Shore movement on those local Vancouver adolescents and young adults whose brain circuitry was hard-wired to identify with the homegrown freeride movement was unique to that period of mountain bike history. I fall into the younger end of that group and my mountain bike transformation was complete as a teenager the day I 'borrowed' a lifesize picture of airborne “frorider” Wade Simmons out of a bus stop shelter to pin up in my basement. This was right around the time that Sterling Lorence’s sepia-filtered shot of Dave Watson graced the cover of BIKE magazine – tweaked sideways and dropping into the infamous ladderbridge on Boogieman. As an impressionable teenager this image seared the Shore scene into my consciousness. I was hooked.
Courtesy of a BC Transit bus stop: Wade’s air still lives on in my Mom’s basement. Did he stick the landing in SPD’s? I’ve always wondered…Circa 1995/2015.
This affinity for mountain biking and the generally positive impacts it had on their youth is the driving factor behind why people become involved with TFKV. 'Gen-Shore' is the best term I can think of to describe some of TFK’s early fundraisers and support crew.
Riding bikes in the forest and in nature - for me, this is a need! A huge number of kids haven’t even been in the forest, let alone ridden bikes in one. Crazy! This pretty much sums up the ongoing, now 15 year need for Trips for Kids Vancouver" - [Ryan Leech. Circa 2015]
Gen-Shore TFKV board members such as Jamie Houssian (The Collective) and Ryan Leech (nuff’ said) have taken that their identification to the extreme and built their careers on documenting and pushing freeriding’s evolution. They have also looked to TFKV as a forum to share their love of two wheels with youth with barriers.
TFKV’s fundraising success In the early years was largely due to our Downbeat media-rich fundraiser where local mountain bike media legends such as Sterling Lorence, Jordan Manley, Ian Hylands, Blake Jorgensen, as well as the filmmakers of The Collective and Anthill Films all stepped up with media contributions for Downbeat. The contributions from these artists during the eight consecutive Downbeat shows from 2003-2011, shared the evolving history of a BC-centric freeride scene with a stoked audience of TFKV supporters.
Trips for Kids Vancouver started with a kitchen table conversation on a cold and rainy West Coast afternoon in February 2001. Dana Starritt, Guy Patterson and Darcy Carrol – the enlightened group of twenty-something Gen-Shore founders, learned of the Marin program and saw Vancouver as an ideal transplant location. In 2001 when you exited from the then-wilderness of the North Shore mountains to cross the second narrows bridge you emerged into the diversity of East Vancouver where economic, cultural and social barriers had combined to prevent a significant population of Vancouver youth from ever setting foot in the North Shore mountains – just minutes away
n 2001, Trips for Kids Vancouver was founded specifically to provide free access to the North Shore’s outdoors for youth with barriers. Dana gets full credit for her pioneering efforts during TFKV’s startup as the heavy lifter responsible for adopting the Marin model, incorporating TFKV as a registered BC Charitable Society, enlisting the support a group of friends to sit on the board, as well as chasing start-up funding. Following a couple of uncertain months, it soon became clear that Trips for Kids Vancouver would be a reality. Successful fundraising enabled the organization to hire Dana and Darcy as TFK’s first staff, and they hit the trails rubber-side down running 18 trips in July and August of 2001, giving over 150 youth their first Shore experience after only a few short months of preparation! Further shout-outs go to startup support and funding and funding from Trout Lake Community Centre, Vancouver Foundation, Spencer Foundation, VanCity, Our Community Bikes, MEC and Ride On Bikes.
The matriarchs of Marin and Vancouver Marilyn Price and TKFV founder Dana Starritt. Bottom row 1st and 5th from left respectively. TFKV Founder Guy Patterson bottom row third from right. Circa 2004 so give me a break on photo quality!
A huge recognition goes out here to Dana, Darcy and Guy during the 2001 startup and over the next 5 years to establish and solidify TFKV in Vancouver.
Circa 2004 with circa 1970's photo quality. That goes for a lot of shots in this article covering 15 years of history back to the pre-digital age!
The recently uncovered journal from our 2001-2002 founding years documents the positive impact of the TFKV experience for youth participants, as well as TFKV leaders:
"Mike Said the sweetest thing on the way back from the beach. He was so excited about everything and had already thanked me profusely a couple of times and then he said: "it's people like you guys doing stuff like this that lets us to what we want to do." Lion and Darcy and I had a long talk on the way home about rewarding it is to take these guys out". - [As written by founding board member Dana Starritt. Circa July 2002]
The original journal captures the Herculean-like effort of Darcy, Dana and Guy to not merely found TFK, but figure out to how to deliver the ride-programming in the first couple years with all the organizational, equipment, planning, logistical and behavioural challenges they were faced with daily. Circa 2002 & 2015.
TFKV continued to grow in 2002 & 2003. Dana recalls in a 2004 interview, “Initially, TFK needed to recruit youth to participate in the program, focusing on kids in the Downtown Eastside. But by the second year, TFK already had more interest than we had capacity and there was no longer a need for outreach.”
The original trailer with green grass(roots) paint job. Apparently we forgot we were a Registered Charity, not a Non-Profit. Circa 2004.
Dana further highlights memories from the early years,“It’s rewarding to see youth supporting each other, and the encouragement that is shown to those who are struggling is inspiring. Some of these kids have never been outside of Vancouver, and some have never been on bikes, so just seeing their reactions is rewarding.”
“Controlled Chaos” pretty much describes the herculean effort required to organize and execute TFKV in early years. You can tell by the smiles though it was worth it! Circa 2007.
The spring of 2003 also saw TFKV’s coming-out party with the first Downbeat fundraiser – highlighted by a stellar Sterling Lorence slideshow – foreshadowing the indirect support of the local Gen-Shore scene going forward. Cheers were exchanged, trail-tales shared, the stoke-was high for TFKV’s future.
Right-Sizing the TFKV Model – 2004-2010
This period of TFKV’s history can be characterized as follows, “the attraction of motivated Gen-Shore students to act as TFKV’s staff and advocates, the continued absorption of TFKV into the East Vancouver youth programming-sphere, and a brief experiment with expansion cut short by the financial crisis”.
Starting with the former, when the founders decided it was time to step back from operations, they found that a series of younger Gen-Shore post-secondary students who instantly 'got' the TFKV mandate and the need for the programming in Vancouver were waiting in their wings to act as TFKV’s next advocates. The Summer Rides program model whereby students who are mostly funded by a federal jobs grant take the reigns of TFK as summer staff was inaugurated in 2004 and continues to this day.
Community centres and youth agencies in East Vancouver continued to voice their support for TFKV’s unique programming niche and we generally had more ride requests than could fill in these years – a trend that has continued to this day.
A big shout out goes to Mountain Equipment Co-op (MEC) for being our longest standing and most significant community partner, ensuring the TFKV can keep Sending Kids Biking! for years to come.
For 2015 we are excited to announce that in support of TFKV's 15th anniversary that MEC has donated $10,000 towards replacing and upgrading TFKV's bike fleet!
2008 to 2010 was our experiment with “right-sizing” the operating model. A brief foray into hiring a year round program coordinator to both alleviate the volunteer board’s increasing organization burden and grow the program was cut short when the non-profit funding environment tanked following the fall 2008 financial crisis. TFKV re-trenched, fell back on the administrative-board model and asked some important questions,“is bigger really better?” “does a smaller, more focused program have more impact on youth?” We decided on the latter.
Other questions asked during this period were, “is mountain biking the best medium for youth to benefit?” We’ve generally come back with a resounding yes to this question. A kid who mountain bikes during their youth is a biker for life – it is a stepping stone to build confidence for bike commuting which furher builds “biker” self-identity. TFK helps to build bikers for life.
During the post-financial crisis years of 2009-2010, the general consensus reached was that TFK served an important niche as there were not any comparable programs in the city. Similar programs have come and gone in the City (.e.g Burton Chill Snowboard Program for low-income youth around the Olympics which is now defunct) but TFK had history, support and staying power. In 2009 and 2010 TFKV scaled back and tried a more focused approach, initiating programs such as the Leadership Club to reach a smaller number of youth more often. Since 2011, we focused on running a sustainable Summer Rides program in June through August that provides access to the outdoors for approximately 300 to 400 youth with barriers.
Solidifying TFK in the local Community – 2011-2015
The last four years can be characterized as, “continued symbiosis into the East Vancouver community while the leadership torch was passed to the next generation of board members.” The demand for and awareness of TFK’s programming still remains strong in Vancouver and our history has cast a wide net over the local community with the support of community centres, youth agencies, and funders helping to entrench our unique summer program niche.
Recent letters of support from the family's of participants like the one below demonstrate TFKV's impact:
I'm writing you this letter to let you know how Trips for Kids Vancouver has benefited our son. We were fortunate to hear about this program through watching it on Global TV. We contacted TFK shortly after we heard about it & explained our families' situation. It was humbling to know that there was absolutely no judgement placed on our family when we spoke & discussed our circumstances. They acknowledged the fact that our son would benefit in these out trips & a few days later he was out riding & exploring with them.
Since joining this Summer, our son has been actively involved in several bike outings. He's been enjoying the company of meeting a lot of new friends & building his self confidence on & off the road. He's been met with several challenges while bike riding which has pushed him & made him even more determined to try different activities which would not have been possible if not for those involved in this program.
Kathryn & family
Partnerships with like-minded organizations like the Take a Hike Foundation and HUB: Your Cycling Connection for sharing space and gear have been important in recruiting a new generation of TFK supporters who advocate for the continuation of our program in Vancouver. Our network of staff at local colleges, universities and high schools ensure there is no shortage of super-keen motivated students eager to work as TFK advocates to run our Summer Rides program. Our biggest barrier has always been sustainable funding and crises have emerged in recent years when our core Federal Canada Summer Jobs Grant comes in below expectations.
TFKV’s Next 15 Years
TFKV’s mandate has evolved over the years into - Send kids biking and help them move forward in life!
With Vancouver rapidly densifying into a traffic congested (ugh..) big city, future barriers over the next 15 years for youth accessing North Shore mountain biking will very much be time and transportation oriented. TFKV believes that outdoor recreation is a fundamental building block of healthy adolescent development and should be a fundamental right of all Canadian youth. If you’ve bothered to read this far you of may have interpreted the ulterior motive of this article. In order to ensure TFKV’s next 15 years in Vancouver we need the support of the local riding scene and to attract the next generation (Gen-duro?) of volunteers to keep TFKV evolving forward.
The real achievement of TFKV is that it manages to bring the experience of mountain biking – with all the intrinsic and extrinsic benefits that come from challenging yourself on a trail – without passing on any of the costs to the participants. A centre or agency that books a ride may pay a sliding fee in support of TFKV to take their youth out on a TFKV ride, but the youth themselves do not pay. This is how TFKV helps ensure that any kid can get out of the city and onto a bike.
TFKV Enduro Team members celebrating after "Riding for TFK" in their fourth race of the year. NSMBA Fiver #2. Circa 2015.
To find about how you can get involved with TFKV go to our website.
The Trips for Kids Vancouver Society Honour Roll
The success of TFK’s first 15 years is due to dedication and drive and sacrifice of the following instrumental volunteer board members and summer student staff. Trips for Kids Vancouver exists to this day due in no small part to these advocates. We present the TFKV Honour Roll:
Guy Patterson Former Board Members
Current Board Members
Trips for Kids® Sponsors
The success of the Trips for Kids program is due in no small part to our valuable sponsors.