Fund, The Prickly Pear Land Trust, Bike Helena and the Montana Wilderness Association. “The Base Camp continues to find ways to reach out to all those programs that we can and then we can prioritize those that affect the biggest part of our community,” Lynch says. Each year, a group of employees sits down to figure out what resources they have available to put towards projects outside their doors and then makes a plan, based on what the community most wants and what most benefits Helena. “As we propel ourselves into the future, we look to our community, look to what our community is doing, and we hope that we can be leaders on some of those trends that are part of that,” Lynch says. “It’s one of the ways that we can provide more support for our community, but it’s also ways that we can partner with organizations in our community that ultimately have an impact on our personal lives and our business.” As The Base Camp becomes more successful and as locals continue to invest in the small business, the amount of work they can do with non-profits increases, Lynch says. Therefore, supporting The Base Camp actually translates to supporting our community at large. In a more conventional sense for a brick and mortar shop, it supports individual Helena citizens by providing a local source for “Gear for the Great Outdoors,” as its tagline suggests. No matter the season, folks over at The Base Camp can help locals and visitors alike find ways to enjoy our environment, even when the temperatures get to be more on the severe side. “More and more folks are looking to come to Montana. I think there’s a variety of things people come to Montana for. Many of them are related to the open spaces and friendly people and a desire for communities of independent folks and space and freedom,” Lynch says. For some of those newcomers, Montana winters can be tough, but The Base Camp is a great resource for teaching them how to not only survive the freezing temps, but actually enjoy—and, dare I say, look forward to—them. For those who are looking to explore the state in different ways, they offer rental backpacks, sleeping bags and pads, tents, climbing shoes, paddle boards, cross-country skis and snowshoes.
“We all share in the reality that is Montana. I think we all participate in what it’s like to be in such a special place,” Lynch says. “We all are enjoying this magical place together.” The Base Camp is just a hub where everyone can come together to discover how they’ll choose to experience this magic. The Base Camp was opened by Scott and Deb Brown on Jackson Street in Helena in 1975, making gear more accessible to the locals who were pondering getting out into the bush and onto the lakes. “At that time, across the country, enjoying the outdoors and camping, hiking and backpacking was starting to become more of a trend,” Lynch says. It was also around this time that Northface, Patagonia and other outdoor equipment companies began springing up, making these outdoor adventures more comfortable. With all this being so new, there wasn’t a lot of access to clothing and equipment. By launching their new business, the Browns gave people in Helena a place to peruse a variety of well-made outdoor gear while still supporting local. Since then, the Browns have moved to Billings where they opened a second location and the Helena store has been moved from its original location on Jackson to its current Broadway space, right in the heart of downtown. “We had a distinct desire to be in downtown Helena where people congregate to go to school, to go enjoy a meal together, to enjoy the South Hills trail system, to enjoy visiting businesses and meeting,” Lynch says. “That was something we really wanted to be apart of and the reason that we wanted to be apart of it was because all of our success to that point was because of that community. So we wanted to find a way to be in the center of the community and be able to provide those resources in a very convenient manner and be close to where people live and work everyday.” While we can expect The Base Camp to continue working with community groups in the areas of conservation and education, and to keep providing us with the latest in outdoor gear, they’re going to likely continue to surprise us with their commitment to improving our quality of life. If there’s something you’d like to see come out of The Base Camp, stroll on over and have a chat with one of the friendly, helpful and passionate employees who are waiting to greet you. n
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