Lightly used gear helps students in Sisters enjoy — and learn in — the region’s vast outdoor classroom. photo provided
Lightly used gear helps students in Sisters enjoy — and learn in — the region’s vast outdoor classroom. photo provided

This Saturday, Hike-N-Peaks hosts the first Sisters community Gear Swap, benefiting local schools. Used outdoor equipment and clothing in good shape will be for sale 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Local folks have three ways to help kids connect with nature and learn in the great outdoors: Donate used outdoor equipment and clothing, sell it on consignment, or buy gear at the swap itself.

All the public schools in Sisters and Camp Sherman attract enrollment with programs for outdoor, hands-on education, with the exception of Sisters Elementary. The Gear Swap will benefit ECoS ("Earth, Community, Self" program ) at Sisters Middle School, IEE at Sisters High School, and Black Butte School's integrated outdoor programming. (See related story, page 29.)

"We raised our children outside, but a real change came when my son and his friends went through the IEE program," explained Sharry Bertagna, co-owner of Hike-N-Peaks and a primary organizer of the swap. "Seeing how it has impacted their lives is truly amazing! They have a passion for recreating outdoors and are great stewards of the land we are fortunate enough to call home."

Mike Geisen is a teacher in the ECoS program at Sisters Middle School. "ECoS has a profound effect on kids here in Sisters, not just in terms of critical thinking and academics," he said. "It gives them a sense of place, a sense of community, and a sense of what they can do.

"It's incredible how their confidence levels rise throughout the year after stepping out of their comfort zones and pushing themselves to try new things," Geisen said. "I'm so proud of these kids for conquering fears and taking on new adventures. They're building life-long skills, friendships and memories."

One parent whose children went through the program praised IEE, but said buying the required equipment strained the family's finances. Geisen noted that the Gear Swap "will help students find gear they need for our expeditions" at affordable prices, while directly supporting the unique, outdoor-focused educational programs of Sisters Country.

"I love seeing the impact our local outdoor programs have on the kids," Bertagna added. "The programs bring our kids together in an environment where they have to rely and look out for one another in ways that cannot be taught in a normal classroom setting."

Schools are looking for lightly used outdoor and sporting items in good condition. Some ideas include: backpacks, tents, sleeping bags and pads, bikes, ski and snowboard equipment, hiking gear, binoculars, and equipment for sports (cleats, lacrosse sticks, tennis rackets, and volleyballs). Outdoor apparel in good condition is also welcome, such as jackets and gloves.

Those interested in donating gear may bring it to Hike-N-Peaks without a price tag. Gear Swap organizers will price and sell the equipment, with 100 percent of the profit going to the schools. People wishing to sell their lightly used gear on consignment should attach a price tag that includes their name and phone number. Sellers will receive 75 percent of the item's price; schools will receive 25 percent.

All gear should be brought to Hike-N-Peaks by October 5 at 5 p.m. It should be in good, clean condition. Hike-N-Peaks is open 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. daily. For more information, contact the store at 541-904-0778 or email sharri@hikenpeaks.com.

Items that go unsold can be picked up by their owners before October 8 at 5 p.m. The remaining items will be donated directly to the schools or, where appropriate, to Habitat for Humanity.

Shoppers can browse and buy quality used outdoor supplies, equipment, and clothes at Hike-N-Peaks on Saturday, October 6 between 10 a.m. and 4 p.m. Hike-N-Peaks is located at 103 E. Hood Ave. in Sisters. Organizers wish to thank Sisters Rental, which has offered half-price rentals for shade canopies.

"Hike-N-Peaks hopes to help Sisters local families get outside and experience all there is to offer," Bertagna said.