Our Inspiring Connections Outdoors Youth Program Celebrates 50 Years Leave a comment

By Linda De Young, Andrew Young, Peggy Hall, and Dave Boitano

A snapshot of an ICO outing.

Remember your first exciting trip to the wilderness? And all the outdoor outings that followed that have greatly impacted your life? The Sierra Club SF Bay Chapter’s Inspiring Connections Outdoors (ICO) program offers that experience to urban disadvantaged youth year-round and has been doing so for 50 years!

In 2019 alone, the SF Bay ICO took 42 trips with 16 community and school groups totaling 865 youth and 305 adult outing days. In addition to many local day hikes, some adventure highlights included camping at a Mendocino beach, snow trips to Hutchinson Lodge, field studies in Yosemite and backpacking the Skyline-to-the-Sea trail. ICO volunteers help build youth outdoor competence and confidence and together we share the special magic that only a redwood forest or alpine lake can offer.

In the Bay Area we are surrounded by parklands, but many city residents lack the opportunity to explore these natural areas. Barriers can be as simple as lack of transportation, but can also be cultural or systemic. Building familiarity with nature is what draws us back to it and allows us to be healed by it.

A snapshot of an ICO outing.ICO partners with community and school groups looking for an outdoors program. Together we pick exciting and educational destinations, and ICO provides trip planning, gear, transportation, and funding as needed. The goal is to make all outdoor activities, whether a simple day hike or a multi-day backpacking trip, accessible even for busy teachers.

But this wonderful program cannot work without your help. We need you to share your outdoor skills and knowledge, keep our backpacking and camping gear in good shape, and help with planning, shopping, and transportation.

In return, you’ll share in our youth’s joy and wonder in hiking the peak on Angel Island, catching a hermit crab, seeing snow for the first time, and so much more.


Looking for volunteers passionate about connecting urban youth with nature

  • Come hike, camp, backpack and explore nature with us!
  • Share your outdoor skills and knowledge of nature
  • Keep our camping and backpacking gear in good shape
  • Help with trip planning, shopping, transportation, and volunteer events

Learn more at sfbayico.org

A snapshot of an ICO outing.

Linda De Young, Andrew Young, and Peggy Hall are leaders of the SF Bay Chapter’s ICO program & Dave Boitano is a member of the Chapter.


Photo credits: Snapshots of ICO outings, courtesy of ICO trip leaders.

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