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Columbia Sportswear Empowers ASI Titan Outdoors

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Columbia Sportswear makes impactful contributions to the Titan Outdoors program at Associated Students Inc. at Cal State Fullerton thanks to the support of Titan alumnus Abel Navarrete ’97, the company’s first Latino vice president.  

The company annually donates $20,000 of equipment to ASI’s Titan Outdoors and provides a catalog of equipment along with instructions on how to use it. “If we did not have this sponsorship, the program would not be where it is right now,” said JP Gale, director of the Student Recreation Center.  

Through the generous donations spearheaded by Navarrete, ASI’s Titan Outdoors is budget-friendly for all students. Each trip includes transportation, equipment, paid recreation fees and certified trip leaders. The program also has a gear rental program for students to use if they need equipment for their own trips. Titans can book trips and check out sleeping bags, tents, hiking boots and more items directly from the Student Recreation Center or online at the Titan Recreation website.  

Since his tenure at Columbia Sportswear, Navarrete has endeavored to support the authentic representation of diverse communities through his work in the outdoors recreation industry. A thoughtful, soft-spoken man, Navarrete grew up watching his mother work long hours between two jobs. A hard-working immigrant woman, his mother eventually started her own business and created a better life for her family. Navarrete looked up to her, as she led by example to instill values of hard work and dedication.   

Navarrete’s decision to have Columbia Sportswear contribute equipment to the Associated Students at Cal State Fullerton is a personal one as he studied business at CSUF from 1991 to 1997.  

In discussing advertising and traditional ideas of hiking and outdoor adventures, Navarrete emphasizes the importance of authentic representation in an industry that sells a lot of granola bars and oatmeal. “For a Mexican American, camping usually becomes a family affair. They might go out there with the entire family and make carne asada or chilaquiles in the morning,” Navarrete said. Working with various advocacy groups, including those working with Asian and Black communities among others, Navarrete seeks to represent various cultures authentically. 

Associated Students at CSUF offers a Titan Outdoors program that creates more diverse and affordable trips for students with equipment donated by Columbia Sportswear. The trips range from paddling, hiking, climbing and camping throughout California to traveling to four different states and national parks. Students visit wondrous places such as Black Star Canyon, Crystal Cove, the Hollywood Sign and Griffith Observatory, Mount Baldy, Silverwood Lake, Angeles National Forest, and more. With costs at a fraction of what a private hike might cost, ASI’s program is a huge boon to students, especially if they enjoy spending free time in nature.  

“It was proven through the global pandemic how people wanted to be outside, and it really helped them with their state of mind and their personal health. It’s great when you get out there, and you realize how beautiful and natural things are,” said Navarrete. “It creates a sense of community. You go for a hike and meet other people who are out there for the same adventure.”  

All Titans, including nonmembers of the Student Recreation Center, can join Titan Outdoors trips throughout the year. A student, staff or faculty member’s background or experience level does not matter. All are welcome to join.

By Alexa Vergil

Jenni Chang