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Press Room:  For Immediate Release 
Explore, Enjoy and Protect the Planet


FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: May 9, 2008   

CONTACT:  Orli Cotel (415) 977-5627

               
Sierra Club Sends Military Families to Camp


SAN FRANCISCO The Military Family Outdoor (MFO) Initiative, a joint project of the Sierra Club and The Sierra Club Foundation, today announced a three-year grant of up to $23 million, provided by generous donors to support three organizations that provide returning veterans and their families with healing, life-affirming outdoor experiences in the natural world.

“We are proud to serve military families thanks to the support of donors to The Sierra Club Foundation who are profoundly motivated to ensure that those protecting our country get to enjoy its natural wonders,” stated Carl Pope, Executive Director of the Sierra Club.  “This project will connect a new generation of American servicemen and women and their children to the mental and physical benefits of our natural heritage.”

The Military Family Outdoor Initiative is building on the success of a partnership the Sierra Club began last year with support to the National Military Family Association (NMFA) to provide week-long summer camp experiences to military children. NMFA’s Operation PurpleŽ Camps engage kids in outdoor experiences and activities while teaching coping skills to help them deal with the deployment of one or both of their parents.

“Together with the Sierra Club we can make a difference in the lives of our nation’s youngest heroes,” said Nancy Alsheimer, Chairman of the NMFA Board of Governors.  “Drawing on the healing and connecting experiences of the outdoors, Operation Purple Camps empower military children and provide a much needed respite from worries about their deployed parents.”   

The Sierra Club believes that every child has a right to have a special place in nature.  In a 2005 study mandated by the California Legislature, the American Institute of Research found that children gain self-esteem and personal responsibility from outdoor experiences.  In fact, students demonstrated a 27 percent increase in science test scores after a week-long outdoor experience.  The Military Family Outdoor program will provide these experiences for military children during a crucial time in their lives.

This year, the Sierra Club has greatly expanded its work with NMFA and has added outdoor programs for returning veterans, as well as camping programs for the entire military family to experience together.  Sierra Club’s Military Family Outdoor Initiative has partnered with the Armed Services YMCA to provide additional family camps near military installations across the country and joined with Outward Bound to sponsor returning veterans in outdoor wilderness adventure courses.

“Outward Bound is grateful to the Military Family Outdoor Initiative Project for its support serving America’s veterans through our proven outdoor wilderness adventure courses,” said John Read, Outward Bound’s President and Chief Executive Officer. 

“The Sierra Club Foundation grant provides a rewarding outdoor camping experience for hundreds of military kids as well as military families.  They’ll have an opportunity to learn more about nature and most importantly, take time away from the stress of deployment,” said Armed Services YMCA National Executive Director Frank Gallo, Rear Admiral, U.S. Navy (Ret).  “The ASYMCA is proud to have the Sierra Club as a partner in our mission to support America’s military families.” 

About Sierra Club
The Sierra Club's members and supporters are more than 1.3 million of your friends and neighbors. Inspired by nature, we work together to protect our communities and the planet. The Club is America's oldest, largest and most influential grassroots environmental organization.  Our mission is to explore, enjoy and protect the planet.
Websites:  http://www.sierraclub.org/youth/events/operation_purple.asp
http://www.nmfa.org/
http://www.outwardboundwilderness.org/veterans.html
http://www.asymca.org/

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