Sierra Club
Mission Outdoors Newsletter

Green the Back to School Blues

back to school It's that time again. While parents jump for joy, many kids dread the first day of school and what it portends -- the end of summer. Across the country, school bells sound and students are settling in to what is increasingly becoming a sedentary and indoor learning environment.

I would be lying if I told you that the summer vacation was reserved for playing outdoors. Today's kids are growing up in an environment very different from that of the generations preceding them. While kids spend more time outdoors during the summer than during the school year, they are still more likely to be surfing the Web, than surfing the waves. For more than 50 hours a week, youth explore virtual worlds that exist only inside computers, cell phones and (fill in the blank with your kid's favorite electronic gadget).

But it's during the school year that children really overdose on the indoors. While the CDC recommends 60 minutes of physical activity daily, kids are lucky if they get 25 minutes during the school day.

Continue reading this blog by Jackie Ostfeld, our policy and operations manager.

Hawai'i Outings Leaders Make Everything Better, Including the Manoa Falls Trail

hawaii outing Thanks to a grant from the Hawaii Tourism Authority, Sierra Club volunteers with the Hawai'i Chapter's O'ahu Group spent a weekend in late August restoring the much-loved (and well-used) Manoa Falls Trail, to the delight of hikers everywhere.

Several hundred hikers visit the trail each day, putting heavy wear and tear on the trail to the 150-foot waterfall. The Department of Land and Water Resources, which manages the state’s trail program, decided to improve the trail, but needed significant volunteer resources to do the heavy labor.

Club volunteers dug in. After their work is complete, the trail will boast new signage, safer viewing areas, and regraveling.

"That has become a safety issue. It's hard for people to get up to the steps and to climb up over rocks," said Janice Marsters, project coordinator for the Sierra Club.

Check out more news about this important restoration work.

Lake Tahoe or Bust

ICO Lake Tahoe In late August, eight students from the Wilderness Adventures Club at Bolsa Grande High School in Orange County, California had the experience of a lifetime. Led by Dave Fujiyama and Wayne Vollaire, both leaders with the Orange County ICO group and sponsored by a National Special Outings grant, this trip represented the first extended backpacking experience for each of the students.

The trip was a lesson in expecting the unexpected. A yearlong planning effort went astray when the group discovered two days before departure that forest fires had closed the backcountry, and that their initial project had been canceled by rangers. They scrambled to put together an alternative plan, decided to "point the trucks toward Tahoe" and sought their adventure there!

They camped, caught brook trout on fly rods, took 5 mile day hikes, and dived off boulders into the pristine waters of Lake Tahoe.

The youth did their part to clean up the surroundings too -- they resized fire rings, and hiked out 10 pounds of rusted tin cans, broken glass, food wrappers, discarded clothing and gun shells.

What was so exciting about this trip was that it presented an opportunity for ICO youth to practice their leadership skills. One youth participant is now a provisional youth leader with ICO and plans to lead a backpack and stewardship trip next year.

On Top of the Glacier, All Covered with Snow

rsz_crt_glacier2.jpg On August 11, 2012, nine intrepid climbers, including six veterans, took to Glacier National Park for a weeklong excursion to the rapidly-disappearing glaciers of Glacier National Park as part of the Climate Reconnaissance Team. Led by Sierra Club Mission Outdoors Director Stacy Bare, Extreme Ice Survey Director and filmmaker James Balog, and world-class mountaineer and The North Face athlete Conrad Anker, the expedition brought together veterans to do climate reconnaissance. The climb was filmed for a documentary that will appear in 2013.

As Stacy tells it: "In the moment, in the day to day of the expedition, the majesty of the place became almost normal. As if this is the way we were supposed to live, amongst such beauty and natural grace. Things did not always go well. These challenges however, are part of the joy in the journey. One team member got sick but battled through. Slopes were steep and rocks were loose. A few arms got scratched and knees got knocked. It rained. We ran out of Nutella two days too early. Self-arrests on ice and snow slopes were taught -- and then executed flawlessly 18 inches above a yawning crevasse. We all made it home. Success." Read more about the trip.

Check out more photo on our Facebook page. And, while you're at it, go ahead and become our friend.

Summer Is Over, But Service Is Not

SOS_LOGO.jpg This September, do the right thing. Our friends at the Children & Nature Network are leading the effort to get folks working outside in nature. Through Serve Outside September, you can inspire, cultivate, and nourish a life-long commitment to nature-based play and recreation in people of all ages, especially children and youth.

Join thousands of volunteers all over the country who will be fixing trails, cleaning up trash, restoring streams, passing out CFLs and participating in scores of volunteer activities. Check out what's happening in your neighborhood. The Sierra Club, along with The North Face, REI, the Outdoors Alliance for Kids, Disney, National Public Lands Day and the US Fish and Wildlife Service are all major partners. Get out there and serve!

And, last month we participated in the Children & Nature Networks Grassroots Gathering. You can read about it here.
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On September 29, put down your iPad and pick up a pickaxe. It's time for National Public Lands Day. Honor our public lands by lending a helping hand. Find a service project near you (and check out Serve Outside September).

Do your get kids outside in nature? Are you totally flush with cash? Then don't read on. OK, if you might need some funding for your awesome programs to connect young people with the outdoors, please do check out The North Face's Explore Fund. Deadline for applications is October 8, so apply today.

Calling all Wisconsinites (or those who love the Wisconsin outdoors)! Celebrate the 50th anniversary of the John Muir Chapter in Wisconsin by nominating your favorite outing (hike, paddle, or whatever) that features a destination or region in Wisconsin. Nominate that unforgettable outdoor trip by October 1.

Remember when you used to ride your bike five miles uphill in the snow to get to school? Well, most kids don't get to do that anymore. Here's your chance to show 'em what the fun is all about by participating in Walk and Bike to School Day on October 3.

And just a few days later, take that kid to a mountain! October 6 is Take a Kid Mountain Biking Day. TKMB is sponsored by OAK Member, the International Mountain Bicycling Association. Learn more.

It's not too late to join folks for the Sierra Club's Outings Leader Training in Colorado Springs. Sign up if you're interested.


Don't despair. Just because the kids are back in school (and spending more time in their seats) doesn't mean they can't get back out in nature. In collaboration with the Natural Learning Initiative at North Carolina State, our friends at National Wildlife Federation released a new toolkit to bring nature back to our kids.

Well, this isn't surprising. A recently released study recently released shows that time away from email reduces stress. We have the perfect solution: Find a local outing, unplug, and watch your worries melt away.


It's not often we make the celebrity gossip sites, but we did. Brooklyn Decker is a fan of the outdoors.

Nature is a healing force for veterans. Mission Outdoor Director Stacy Bare quoted.

Local Outings in Maryland take to the waterways to fight coal 

Nolan Gould really did love his Grand Canyon trip.

We know you just can't get enough of Modern Family's Nolan Gould.

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