The beautiful fall weather was the perfect backdrop for a few days of bonding, brainstorming and planning with Sierra Club's Military Families Outdoors partners. October 13-16 was our first annual MFO Summit and took place at the Marconi Conference Center near Point Reyes, CA. Representatives from Outward Bound, National Military Family Association (NMFA) and Armed Services YMCA joined with the Sierra Club to discuss providing quality outdoor experiences for military families.
Outward Bound's veterans program provides a week long adventure wilderness course for veterans of combat operations in Afghanistan (Operation Enduring Freedom) and Southwest Asia (Operation Iraqi Freedom). Outward Bound has received an unprecedented response to the program and course participants have been thrilled with their amazing experiences. Courses for 2008 are already booked and 2009 courses are filling fast!
The National Military Family Association's Operation Purple has provided tens of thousands of military children with a fun free week of summer camp where the kids experience the healing powers of the outdoors, make new friends, and learn coping skills to deal with the stresses of deployment. Last week I attended NMFA's Youth Summit where we learned about current research regarding the impacts of deployment on military children and discussed the community programs and military services available to benefit military kids. Operation Purple is one such great program that gives kids valuable skills as well as lifetime of wonderful camp memories. Sign up via the NMFA website to find out when registration starts for 2009 summer camp sessions.
The Armed Services YMCA provides military families and children with resident and day camp experiences at local camps near military installations. These camps give military families the opportunity to escape the day to day stresses of military life and spend some time together in the outdoors. The camps have received great feedback and planning is currently underway for new locations and next year's camp dates!
The Sierra Club is extremely proud of our partnership with these impressive organizations. We had a great couple of days at the summit reviewing the amazing work that happened this year and beginning our planning for another fun and successful year of providing outdoor programs for military families. And of course, we couldn't plan outdoor activities without participating in a little outdoor recreation ourselves!