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Updated: January 29, 2024

Geared up: Skowhegan Main Street opens outdoor equipment library

bikes and other outdoor equipment Courtesy / Skowhegan Main Street The Skowhegan Outdoors Basecamp, at 65 Water St., is a new lending library with more than 200 pieces of outdoor recreation equipment.

From bikes to snowshoes, more than 200 pieces of outdoor gear are available for members of the public to borrow from the new Skowhegan Outdoors Basecamp.

The gear lending library, at 65 Water St., offers equipment free of charge to Somerset County residents. Residents of other counties can also borrow gear, with the purchase of a one-year membership at $50 for individuals and $75 for families. Bike maintenance and other services are also offered for a fee.

"We are thrilled to finally open the Skowhegan Outdoors Basecamp after several years of collecting gear and planning,” said Kristina Cannon, president and CEO of Main Street Skowhegan. “Through our Skowhegan Outdoors initiative, we are reducing barriers for all Somerset County residents and helping people get outside on their own to realize the benefits of outdoor activity and connection with nature.” 

The gear facility, inaugurated in an ribbon-cutting ceremony last week, is in a space that Skowhegan Main Street leases from building owner Patric Moore. The opening comes amid a surge in outdoor recreation across the state, which generated $3.3 billion in gross domestic product during 2022.

Reducing barriers 

Skowhegan Outdoors Basecamp occupies 1,200 square feet of the 3,000-square-foot first floor. The other first-floor occupant is Joe's Flat Iron Cafe, whose owner Cannon says is a big supporter of her organization and the Skowhegan Outdoors AmericCorps Program. 

That program was launched in 2019 by Main Street Skowhegan in partnership with Volunteer Maine, the Outdoor Sport Institute and other local groups to ensure equitable access to the outdoors via free, guided outdoor activities and gear.

“The Skowhegan Outdoors Basecamp is one element of a greater strategy for community transformation through outdoor recreation. Cannon told Mainebiz. "We are committed to reducing barriers and getting more people outside to experience the restorative benefits of the natural world."

Cannon said that the equipment has largely been purchased using grant dollars from various foundations, as well as some equipment that was donated. Proceeds from paid memberships will be used to help cover operating expenses, while funding from program sponsorships and fee-for-service bike maintenance and ski waxing will also be used to fund operations, she said.

The basecamp will be managed by five AmericCorps members.

Cannon, recently honored by Maine Outdoor Brands as the 2023 Outdoor Industry Leader of the Year, was recognized on the Mainebiz Next List in 2019. 

More information

The Skowhegan Outdoors Basecamp is open from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. on Monday through Saturday, and by appointment only on Sundays. Find out more here.

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