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.
So what does the new name mean for donors and families? Donations to Coombs Outdoors will now support a more robust, year-round outdoor youth empowerment program. Rather than just supporting the cost of a season of skiing, your generous donations will help them develop Coombs-grown programs, allowing low-income kids to build confidence in the outdoors through skiing, hiking, rafting, biking, climbing, and more.
Mission: Coombs Outdoors empowers children and youth to reach their full potential through the life-changing power of outdoor recreation.
Vision: A world in which all kids are able to reap the benefits of the great outdoors, regardless of socio-economic, racial or cultural barriers
Jackson Hole is known for its natural beauty and world-class outdoor sports. However, there is a large population of children of low-income families who do not have access to the same opportunities as their peers. In an effort to create a healthy community where all our children thrive, Coombs Outdoors provides year-round outdoor programming for youth from Kindergarten through high school graduation.
Their programs grow as the needs of kids grow, beginning with basic instructional programs that introduce kids to a variety of activities that will hopefully spark a passion for the outdoors, then adding a cohort-based mentoring component in middle school to help youth build deep relationships with their peers and trusted adults, and finally, training high school youth to serve as mentors and coaches to younger kids, explore careers and college, and become passionate outdoor enthusiasts.
At every stage, outdoors remains at the center of their work, whether a hike with a Forest Ranger, a ropes course with a mentoring cohort, or an internship working at our local ski hill. The goal is not to create world-class skiers or rock climbers, but to develop world-class people ready to embrace the future with confidence.