Inner City Outings in Pictures
An Inner City Outings scrapbook would look something like this: pictures of young people smiling, playing, and admiring what the outdoors has to offer. For ICO backpacking leaders Tim Kline and Linda De Young, these moments are what make ICO so rewarding.
"Most students live in school and are so regimented. My trip leading style is mostly to just get youth outside and let them play," says Tim. "It's been great seeing some of the more reserved students have an unabashed good time just being wild, splashing around in the sand, playing soccer, and yelling. I love it."
ICO is a program made up of 50 volunteer-run groups that lead more than 800 outings a year for about 14,000 youth across the country. In most cases, kids visit and experience outdoor places they'd likely never have a chance to see without the program. Tim, a three-year ICO volunteer, and Linda, a five-year volunteer, lead backpacking trips with kids from Oakland, California. The list of places they visit includes some of the most beautiful natural gems Northern California has to offer: Point Reyes National Seashore, Pinnacles National Monument, Samuel P. Taylor State Park, and Butano State Park, among many others.
"There are so many discoveries on these trips; kids walking down a granite rock face and being amazed their shoes stick; using my camera to take pictures of trees -- just trees," says Linda. "Seeing a starfish eating a crab and yelling for everyone to come look, gazing at stars, climbing up through a hole in a redwood, and being in a creek with all those bugs! As ICO volunteers, we get to experience all of this with the kids."
Imagine being young and for the very first time seeing water skeeters, crabs, a family of deer, or a gopher popping out of its hole.
"I like these interactions as the kids really focus on nature, where the animal is, what it's doing, its reaction to them," says Linda. "They can just walk along, feel safe, chat with their friends, pick up things, explore their surroundings. They can be free out there, which is not the case at home."
Says Tim: "I had a fairly privileged upbringing in San Francisco, especially having parents who would take my brother and me to explore the wild places around the Bay Area. Most weekends, my ma would take my brother and me in tow to the Marin Headlands. We would mostly stomp in mud puddles, get dirty, and look at bugs. When I got older, it became clear to me that not many urban kids had access to the same kind of experiences I did, so it feels right and good to help get more of them outside."
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