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Updated: November 30, 2023

Youth services nonprofit raises $500K for an outdoor adventure campus in Bremen

Courtesy / Peter Alfond Foundation Hearty Roots, based in Bristol, is a nonprofit providing outdoor adventure and social-emotional programs for young people.

Hearty Roots, a nonprofit that provides outdoor adventure and social-emotional programs for children and teens, has raised over $500,000 towards a new campus and wellness center.

The Peter Alfond Foundation provided an initial $250,000 matching grant. In October, the foundation awarded $1.9 million in grants to support youth development organizations across Maine. Hearty Roots, headquartered in Bristol, received part of this funding for the purchase of a 100-acre campus in Bremen.

"Hearty Roots is an innovator in youth development. They offer something that all Maine youth, actually all of us, can benefit from," said Adam Burk, Peter Alfond Foundation's executive director in New England. 

In 2017, Hearty Roots' founder, Haley Bezon, recognized a need for her school's students to get outside, away from the stress of the day, social media and screens. The program has now grown to serve over 250 kids annually in Lincoln and Knox counties, with growth projections to double that number in the coming years.

"Helping kids connect with nature in a way that helps them develop a toolbox for resilience is inspiring," Bezon said. "Kids know what brings them peace and true connection, and we make a space for that mental wellness in our work." 

About the new campus

The new Campus for Mindful Adventure will have a headquarters, gear barn, yurts and tent platforms, gathering spaces, a cabin, a variety of trails, and a "mindful adventure and movement space."

Hearty Roots is already running programs on the property and expects to close on it early in 2024. A spokesperson told Mainebiz that Hearty Roots is getting to know the land in Bremen and will develop the infrastructure in stages during 2024 and 2025.

“Thanks to the Peter Alfond Foundation and other inspired donors, our campus will be a place where kids, families, and community members will be invited to disconnect from the stimulation of busy lives to look inward to connect with themselves, their peers, and the natural world,” said Bezon.

“We owe this to our kids and grandkids: promoting hope, health, and joy, which serve as protective factors–or barriers–against suicide, substance abuse, and mental health challenges."

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