As I talk to more and more people about the Sierra Club's Military Family Outdoor Initiative, I find that people are often surprised that the Sierra Club has launched a program that serves military families. They initially see only the differences between the organizations. Having grown up in a military family - going hiking, biking, skiing, and camping in amazing new environments every time we moved - I developed a strong love for the outdoors and a passion for nature, leading to my desire to work for the Sierra Club. Like my family, many military families have very strong outdoor traditions. In fact, there are a number of historical ties between the Sierra Club and the military. Click here to check out Sierra Club's military history
This week I had the pleasure of participating in a National Guard conference in St. Louis with our MFO partner - Outward Bound. Joe and Amy Frisk are both recently retired Army Colonels who have been enthusiastically recruiting for Outward Bound's Veterans Expeditions. The Outward Bound Veterans program provides war veterans and service members with a 5 day wilderness adventure. Participants use the skills they gained in the military to challenge themselves mentally and physically. The wilderness experience builds camaraderie, maximizes their strengths, and is a powerful tool in helping re-adjust back to civilian life.
We received a tremendous response at the National Guard conference. A variety of people ran right up to our booth declaring their Sierra Club membership and jumped into stories about their recent canoeing/camping/backpacking trip. Other folks seemed a little standoffish at first, somewhat surprised to see us there. But, when they learned about the program, they were absolutely thrilled - and wanted to find out how soon they could sign up to attend a course or go on a weekend family retreat. We had wives telling us how much their husbands needed the outdoor adventure, escape and camaraderie offered by the Outward Bound courses. Parents thanked us for the fun, exercise, and self-confidence building that their children experienced at Operation Purple Camp.
The Sierra Club strongly believes that every person deserves and needs to have a special place in nature. We know that outdoor experiences provide amazing mental and physical healing benefits, and that just being outside is a natural stress reliever. We are proud to be connecting military families with the healing power of our natural heritage.