ICO Service Outings Forge Bonds, Broaden Horizons
This summer, the Sierra Club's Inner City Outings Program (ICO) sponsored two national service trips: one to the Marble Mountains of far-northern California, and one to the Club's Clair Tappaan Lodge in the Sierra Nevada.
"I'd never been to the mountains before, so seeing them and being in them for the first time was mind-blowing," says Kia Lor, one of three Hmong youths from Minnesota who did trail work in the Marble Mountains, part of the Klamath National Forest. Lor is at right, above, and at center in brown shirt, below.
Kids from Southern California, Minneapolis/St. Paul, Louisville, Ky., and the Orlando, Fl., area, ranging from 14 to 19 years old, participated in the service trips. All travel expenses and trip fees for the kids and adult chaperones were covered by ICO after the program received a $40,000 bequest from a donor.
On receiving the bequest, ICO asked its leaders around the country to identify students and chaperones who they felt would most benefit from the service trips. Eight kids ultimately participated, and all received 10-year Sierra Club memberships.
"I've always wanted to get involved with the Sierra Club but never knew how, so this was an amazing opportunity," says Lor. "I learned so much, including how to survive in the wilderness. The trip really broadened my horizons about the world around me and the earth I live on. It was an awesome, awesome trip!"
Says fellow Hmong teenager Meng Yang: "This was my first time out of the Midwest, my first time on an airplane, and my first time being away from home for a week. The trip was one of the hardest, dehydrating, exhausting, scariest, and greatest things I've ever done. If given the opportunity, I'd do it all over again." Yang is second from left in top photo, and third from right above.
On the Clair Tappaan Lodge trip, participants helped clear the forest around the lodge to reduce the risk of forest fires. They also finished a task they were only expected to begin—creating the new Valencia Vista Trail.
"It felt so rewarding when we finished the trail," says Giao Tran of Garden Grove, Ca., above at right, who was joined on the trip by schoolmate Lucy Lang. "Lucy and I have never built trails before, so the skills we learned will benefit us in our roles as officers for the Wilderness Adventure Club at our school."
Others on the trip hailed from Florida and Kentucky. "It was amazing how a group of kids who didn't even know one another bonded so quickly within the first day," says Tran. "We were all from different parts of the country with different backgrounds, spoke different languages, hung out with different types of people, yet we managed to connect. We learned a lot from each other."
Below, Jakliene Lado of Louisville at work on the Valencia Vista Trail.
"We were all extremely proud of our accomplishments," says Louisville ICO chair Josh McMinn, who came on the trip as a chaperone. "What was built on the trail can't be measured in steps we took, the mosquito bites we endured, or the hours we spent in the woods—it can only be measured in the memories we share, the satisfaction we feel, and the friendships we made."