Get Out and Learn (G.O.A.L) Foundation encourages outdoor adventures

By Nichole Capizzi
May 3, 2013

Started by two friends with a lifelong love for the outdoors, the idea to bring the outdoor experience to the less fortunate has turned into something more permanent and structured. The Get Out and Learn Foundation (or G.O.A.L. Foundation) is a Philadelphia based non-profit that was created to introduce academically motivated inner city youth to outdoor adventures and nature while immersed in the wilderness.

President and co-founder David A. Brennfleck says, “The name of the charity was my idea because I wanted a name that gave people the understanding that our focus is education, not just camping or outdoor adventure. We want the youth to learn all kinds of things while they participate. They learn how to work through challenges, how to work as a team, how to encourage others and how to trust old friends as well as brand new ones.”

As a child, Dave spent every minute of his summer days exploring the forests and streams around his home. With more than 30 years of experience in camping, international backpacking, white water rafting, rocking climbing, biking and so much more, Dave is no stranger to the outdoors.

The program allows students to move at their own pace and experience activities like camping, fishing, hiking, canoeing, backpacking and wilderness survival skills.

There are only three requirements that must be met in order to join the foundation – (1) the students must live and go to school in the city of Philadelphia, (2) they must be entering 9th grade as a minimum or 20 years of age as a maximum, and (3) they must maintain a 3.0 GPA to remain in the program.

“We allow students to drop below for one grading period,” Brennfleck explains, “because everyone can have challenges in high school. If they continue to remain below 3.0 they can reapply as soon as they get the grades to meet the requirement.”

The charity was founded in 2004, but did not have any funding to buy insurance or begin outings until 2006.

“We started with 3 female youth and one male youth in 2007. We how have 20 volunteer leaders and 16 youth. Some of the youth are now inactive because they are now away in college or they are working each weekend.”

The charity focuses on providing experiences as well as developing skills. While the foundation does not provide a formal classroom setting with structured education, it introduces students to new foods, new challenges and promotes a safe environment to allow students the chance to blow off some steam.

Brennfleck describes a typical day, “We play kickball. We climb rock walls. They collect wood for the campfire and enjoy s’mores, learn how to identify poison ivy. They also get between $150-$200 per year to buy outdoor gear. Boots and wool socks are the only items they HAVE to buy. After 4 years in the program, they have quite a nice pile of gear to continue the outdoor adventures on their own.”

The Foundation has travelled to Shenandoah National Park and as far as Mt. Marcy in the Adirondacks, where students participated in a backpacking trip, which required students to miss a day or two of school. In 2015, the foundation is planning a cross-country trip – quite a commitment for the youth and leaders, but also quite the experience.

“The students also enjoy French Creek State Park in Elverson, PA. When we go camping, if there is a pool, it is very difficult to get the students to leave! Hunger is usually the only thing that pulls them away from the pool. Food can be a big motivator when you have been swimming for 5 hours.”

The foundation is purposely a small charity to allow each student to have a powerful experience through outdoor adventures like these.

For more information, contact them at

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Nichole Capizzi

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