Thrive Outdoors: Building resilience through outdoor community connection

by | Oct 26, 2020 | Makin ’It Happen Together, Makin’ It Happen in the 603, Prevention

Today Makin It Happen is highlighting an amazing youth serving organization here in Manchester called Thrive Outdoors.  Thrive Outdoors is a true champion of building resilience in our communities and beyond.  We spoke with Jake King, Lead Instructor, CEO & Director of the Thrive Outdoors Community Leadership Center and Melanie Haney Marketing, Co-Director of the Thrive Outdoors Community Leadership Center

The mission of Thrive Outdoors is to “use the readily available tools around us, and within us, to help people become more positive-minded, optimistic, and less stressed”.  Jake was inspired to start Thrive Outdoors while working for a program that served individuals experiencing homelessness in Manchester.  He believed that through teaching people outdoor survival skills he could change the way they thought about themselves.  Jake and his business partners Ed King, MD and Vinnie Haney took that vision and started Thrive Outdoors about seven years ago.

Initially, Thrive Outdoors started working with elementary age youth specifically on developing their mindsets to be more resilient.  This was accomplished through teaching various outdoor survival skills.  The program has been well received by the people they worked with because the change in the youth’s core thought processes and the confidence they gained as a result of their experience with Thrive Outdoors was evident. 

Jake explained that ‘a lot of the activities and programs that are related to outdoor health have been around forever’ and ‘that the more you get people outside of their comfort zone and help them accomplish things the more resilience is built because you are increasing their confidence and showing them a healthy community’.  Thrive provides a number of these outdoor activities including wilderness survival, shelter building, rope skills and more with the goal of giving youth skills that give them confidence and will empower them for the rest of their life.  For Thrive Outdoors it is crucial to build up youth’s self worth, they don’t need to turn to anything toxic. 

Jake and Melanie both expressed that their work makes them hopeful everyday.  Being outdoors and connected to other people inevitably brings hope. By working together youth learn to put their differences aside and work together for a common purpose.  The negativity that may have existed prior to their time with Thrive Outdoors melts away as the youth become a team and learn the fundamentals of being human.

 COVID has created new challenges for Thrive Outdoors.  “The whole reason for starting this business was teaching people how to live in community” said Jake “but COVID has made it difficult to create community”.   Thrive has worked diligently to continue to bring people in and work with in spite of COVID.  Thrive Outdoors has found all kinds of ways to interact with their clients.   For example, in April Jake was driving around in a small bus brining socially distant singing and entertainment to some of the youth in the community in order to bring happiness and joy during a difficult time. 

Thrive Outdoors hope is for youth and the youth we work with to find a way to find a community where they are safe and they are accepted.  The result of this will be that those youth will be able to access their true leadership abilities and understand their strengths. Ultimately Thrive Outdoors wants everyone to feel acceptance and love then spread it out to the community.  To learn more about Thrive Outdoors visit .