Years ago, while doing trail maintenance in the White Mountains, Chris Grenier listened to one of the leaders describe hiking the Appalachian Trail.
"He had story after story," Chris recalls.
Chris had limited hiking and camping experience up to that point. But, inspired by what he had heard, Chris hiked the Appalacian Trail two years later.
"And now, thanks to Inner City Outings, I have story after story when kids ask me about the various places I've been. It's a great topic around the campfire."
Chris is a leader with ICO's Chicago group, which helps kids who would otherwise not get the chance to experience the outdoors connect with nature. Inner City Outings is made up of 50 groups across the country, leading more than 800 outings each year and serving more than 14,000 kids.
"I had been a Sierra Club member for a long time, but I wasn't really active up to that point," Chris says. "When it came to Inner City Outings, one of the big draws for me was getting outside and working with kids." He has now been an ICO leader for three years.
Most kids who first experience Inner City Outings barely have any outdoor experience, let alone activities like camping. In many cases, ICO kids go to places they haven't heard of before.
"There's a lot of education involved, and it's great to watch the kids absorb all of it. It's rare that they ever get to see those environments," says Chris.
For Chris, ICO is an outlet that enables him to pass along the same inspiration that motivated him to hike the Appalachian Trail years ago.
"I definitely feel like I'm giving back to the community. I get to watch them enjoy. There's not really a downside to working with ICO."
Want to get involved? Learn more about Inner City Outings.