It has been a whirlwind six months since I ‘enlisted’ in the Sierra Club to become the new Military Family and Veterans Representative at the Club. We’ve become part of the larger Mission Outdoors Program at the Sierra Club to better strengthen our overall ability to serve military families, service members, and veterans to get outside, as well as kept on keeping on in connecting literally thousands of the military and veteran community to the outdoors.
How do we know we’ve been successful? Well, along with the research we plan on conducting in 2012, we get great e-mails from participants that read like this one:
I just returned home two days ago from the Higher Ground Fly Fishing trip and it was such an amazing trip! I want to start off by thanking everyone that had a hand in making this as smooth and as enjoyable as possible, I know that a group of disabled veterans can be a handful at times. By going on this trip I truly feel that I have accomplished a milestone in my life and I feel that it is just going to lead to bigger and better things that are yet to come. Just yesterday I enrolled in college to get my bachelors in business administration, before this trip it was just a dream and something I talked about doing but now its a reality...I'M A STUDENT! [We] are already shopping for fly fishing equipment because she knows how much I enjoyed it and how stress free I was when I was standing waist deep in a pond just casting away.
As we march forward to an even better 2012 with a strong emphasis on developing military family members, military youth, service members, and veterans as outdoor leaders, we’ll spend the month of December on our blog reviewing a number of this year’s programs and events. As a teaser for what’s to come, we hope you enjoy the outline of what we’ve been able to accomplish with our great team of partners and community support!
Through our partnership with the National Military Family Association, we were able to contribute to ensuring over 3,000 youth and military families participated in Operation Purple Camps ® and family retreats from the North Bay of the Chesapeake Bay to the North Shore of Oahu, from Alaska to California and everywhere in between!
We provide camp scholarships for military youth to attend YMCA camps for an estimated 1,000 military youth nation wide!
We provided support to Sun Valley, ID based Higher Ground to ensure military couples had the opportunity to fly fish and reconnect in the beautiful Sawtooth Mountains and through adventure, many had the chance to feel the healing and soothing affect of an active life in the outdoors with their spouses and partners!
The Military Families and Veterans Initiative supported 60+ veterans and active duty or Guard and Reservists, spouses, and youth participated in five different day long surf camps in New York, New Jersey, Maine, and New Hampshire as well as supporting AmpSurf’s leadership during the Veterans Administration’s Summer Games in San Diego, CA.
Our initiative supported half a dozen military family and wounded warrior kayaking clinics in the DC region this past summer and fall.
This past July, with special thanks to UpaDowna of the Pikes Peak Community Foundation, help from the National Military Family Association, YMCA, and 19 other partners we hosted a big day full of outdoor activities bringing together 22 outdoor recreation and conservation organizations who support military families and youth; 300+ military family members, 100+ volunteers, and 100+ community members participated.
In Honolulu, HI, San Clemente, CA / Pismo Beach, and 10 locations throughout the United States for kayaking on 9/11/11. All in all close to 200 veterans, military family members, youth, and community members in a Paddle Out to commemorate military service and conduct beginner surf / kayaking clinics.
For a short video of the California event, click here!
- We All Serve!
Similar to the Celebration of a Military Child Outside, we were excite to partner with the Ft. Belvoir Elementary School in Ft. Belvoir, VA for a big day of outdoor fun shared with 300+ military family members for a back to school event and 9/11/11 commemoration.
- Military Climbing Day
In Carder Rock, MD and with the help of the Potomac Mountain Club we conducted a conducted a beginner’s climbing clinic for DC area military families with 22 service members and their families and 12 volunteers.
Other events we look forward to talking about include our Summit to Remember on the Grand Teton on 9/11/11, our participation in Great Outdoors America Week, four great service projects on 11/11/11, and a host of new partners and leadership development and research grants that will be announced in the next few weeks and more formally in early 2012.
We look forward to sharing our successes and lessons learned with all of you and invite you on our journey into the places you all helped to defend with your military service (and remember military kids and families: YOU SERVE TOO!)
See you on the Trail!