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Summer Park Days encourage community to borrow gear and get outdoors

Kristen Tworek, School Community Youth Collaborative’s assistant director, poses in the gear lending library. (Kala Parkinson/The Journal)
Gear is free for the whole family, and sporty Saturday events will run through August

Cortez’s Gear Lending Library has paved its way as the local hub for recreational equipment for organizations and individuals and has gained momentum with its Summer Park Days program this summer.

Summer Park Days have occurred every Saturday this summer from 9:30 a.m. to 12 p.m in Parque de Vida.

Individuals and families have been able to try out gear without a reservation or deposit — the typical procedure for checking out equipment from the library.

This includes scooters, bikes, tennis rackets, pickleball paddles, skateboards and basketballs.

“This is for everyone,” said Kristen Tworek, assistant director of the School Community Youth Collaborative and director of the gear lending initiative. “It's for the whole community.”

Running through August, the summer Saturdays are sponsored by the School Community Youth Collaborative, a nonprofit dedicated to the betterment of youths, in partnership with the Montezuma Inspire Coalition.

The Montezuma Inspire Coalition teamed up with the SCYC to operate the library after receiving a grant from Great Outdoors Colorado in 2019.

“I think sometimes people don't know what they want to rent, and they might want to try out a few things before they take something home,” Tworek said.

Tworec said that anywhere from two to 12 people have participated in each Summer Park Day.

“They have been pretty small,” she said. “We've had more success with our reservations.”

Paddleboards have been the most popular rental, she said. SCYC hosted a paddle board clinic this summer that taught logistics and safety.

This summer of sport follows a modification to SCYC’s gear lending process last year.

Originally planning to focus on facilitating spring camping trips, the pandemic drove the SCYC to instead pivot their attention to gear that could be used locally at the park.

This year, two groups checked out camping gear from the library, Tworek said.

The organization partners with the San Juan Mountain Association, which used the library’s tents, sleeping pads, mess kits, headlamps and camp chairs for summer camps based in Montezuma County.

SCYC also worked with the Piñon Project, supplying them with paddleboards, life jackets and scooters this summer.

“It was silly for them each to start collecting their own gear when we could have this centralized location — and not just then for these partner programs, but then also for the community,” Tworec said.

The collaborative element to the gear lending process is the most exciting part to Tworec, she said.

Nov 30, 2021
Gear lending library up and running in Cortez

Outside of the Saturday events, gear can be picked up from the library Mondays through Saturdays, but should be reserved two days in advance, according to the gear lending library’s website.

The reservation form can be found at https://bit.ly/GearLending.

The library is located just north of the Cortez Recreation Center, next to the tennis courts.

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