Riverwest Outdoor Educational Adventures, Inc. started from humble beginnings as Riverwest Outdoor Enterprises, Inc. in 1985 and has since established itself as the longest operating outdoor adventure service in the Metro Milwaukee Area.
In 1989 we started offering various programs for youth in Milwaukee with just 4 canoes, climbing gear, and a dream of offering quality adventure programs to the community. During those early years, we held programs ranging from short 2-hour session to longer half-day and weekend trips where children learned to canoe, rock climb, rappel and camp.
In 1995 we moved to 1000 E. Center Street and opened a full service retail shop, offering a quality selection of camping and climbing equipment for sale and rental. We hired three staff and continued to expand our offerings of outdoor adventure programs. We also partnered with other community organizations, like the Urban Ecology Center, to offer more programing to a wider range of people. Due to unforeseen circumstances, the retail portion of our business closed in 1997. Though programs continued to flourish, they were not enough to sustain payment of both rent and payroll and we made the decision to prioritize our employees.
After the close of the retail location, we established ourselves once again as a home-based business in the Riverwest area. We continued offering programs to various community agencies as well as various school districts. We also opened up a new partnership with Milwaukee Turners Climbing Gym, which allowed us to offer indoor climbing. Program accessibility increased and we were able purchase 12 kayaks plus a trailer in order to offer additional program opportunities.
Starting in 2006, we partnered with recreation departments around Milwaukee as well as MPS schools to offer summer programs and adventure camps for youth. These camps introduced youth to canoeing & kayaking, rock climbing and rappelling, biking and hiking. We were eventually able to reopen a retail store in 2008 through our partnership with Milwaukee Turners, where we continue to sell climbing gear.
Since then, we have continued to develop partnerships with Milwaukee area recreation departments, schools, Boys & Girls Clubs of America, Milwaukee Jewish Community Center and Day School, Racine Unified Schools, and Bike Kids Wisconsin. In addition to expanding our work in the community, we started offering an adventure camp for teens. These camps were a great addition to our already existing programs, including all day trips for kayaking, canoeing, rock climbing, rappelling, biking and hiking.
Finally in 2015, we were able to register ourselves as a nonprofit organization, allowing us to focus more on the work we do for the community. Though our structure has changed throughout the years, our mission has always been focused on giving people access to outdoor adventure programs, regardless of background.