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Kicking Off the Month of the Military Child

Last Saturday, April 6th, was our Celebration of the Military Child Outdoors kickoff at Prince William Forest Park near Marine Corps Base Quantico in northern Virginia. Sierra Club Mission Outdoors worked with dozens of local and national partners to offer a free and fun day in the outdoors to honor our nation’s military kids and families. The day went spectacularly well; we had perfect weather, an excellent turnout, and a ton of fun with military families in the great outdoors!

Rope Latter
Aspiring climbers negotiate the rope ladder

Families enjoyed a range of activities including kayak demonstrations, organized hikes, nature lessons and games, bird watching and more! They also collected benthic macroinvertebrates from a local creek, learned climbing skills, and saw birds of prey from the local raptor conservancy. Some of the most popular activities (tree climbing and leaf throwing) were provided by the park itself.

National Park Service Director Jonathan B. Jarvis joined us as our keynote speaker, shared stories of his life with the National Park Service, and described the connected history of the military and our national parks.

Rangers were on hand to give out the annual America the Beautiful Pass, which is free for all U.S. military personnel and dependents. Sierra Club Board President Allison Chin also joined us to kick off the day, thanking military children for their unique service to our country and announcing the launch of our Celebration of the Military Child Outdoors initiative with over 20 events, hikes, and outings scheduled across the country to connect military children with the outdoors.

Kids climbing trees
Timeless fun - tree climbing

This event would not have been possible without Laura Cohen and the Amazing team from Prince William Forest Park. A huge thank you to all of our partners and volunteers for making the day great: Blue Star Families, National Military Family Association, OAK-the Outdoors Alliance for Kids, National Park Service, Children & Nature Network, U.S. Forest Service, Virginia and Maryland Sierra Club  local and ICO outings groups, Raptor Conservancy of Virginia, Team River Runner, Sportrock Climbing Center, Dog Tag Bakery, National Wildlife Federation, Virginia Department of Game and Inland Fisheries, NatureBridge, Alice Ferguson Foundation, and the Virginia Wounded Warrior Program.

A special thanks to Marianne Weaver with Blue Star Families, as well as Josh Brandon and Sara Carmichael with the Sierra Club for doing a fantastic job coordinating logistics and handling much of the work for the day.

Celebration of the Military Child Outdoors events are happening all across the country throughout April, the Month of the Military Child, and into June. Find a full listing of events at sierraclub.org/GETOUT. If you don’t see an event in your area, you can find resources at sierraclub.org/missionoutdoors to organize your own and show your support for our nation’s youngest heroes!

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