Inspiring Connections Outdoors

ICO: Inspiring Connections Outdoors

Program Goals

  • Actively engage people in the outdoors through outdoor activities, including backpacking, car camping, canoeing, kayaking, hiking, rafting, service projects, skating, skiing, sledding, etc
  • Promote appreciation and protection of the natural environment through outdoor adventures and environmental education;
  • Create opportunities through outdoor experiences for personal growth and life style change, outdoor skills and leadership development;
  • and foster respect of self, others, and the environment.

Our 56 volunteer-run ICO groups nationwide conduct more than 900 outings for approximately 14,000 participants each year. By introducing participants to the transformative power of nature, ICO serves a key function within the Sierra Club and supports John Muir's assertion that people who experience wilderness firsthand are much more likely to preserve it for future generations.

Find a group near you!


One of the students who participates in the Chicago branch of Inspiring Connections Outdoors, Leopaldo Hernandez, talks about how ICO has shaped his relationship with nature. Check out his YouTube video!
—Leopaldo Hernandez, Chicago participant, soon to be leader.

"Sharing the beauty of nature with someone for the first time and seeing the smile on their face is the best feeling. It really inspires me when young people from our participant groups become involved with ICO to help share their experiences with others and become amazing trip leaders."
Watch his video.
—Vinny Abeygunawardena, ICO Raft Guide and Leader
"I have not been on another field trip where the students keep talking about their experience so much, where they grow as people and leaders so visibly, and where they are authentically willing to share their experiences and educate others of what they saw and learned, from the beauty that is California. I am looking forward to going on my eighth hike this year with the Sierra Club and can’t imagine my school year without this amazing adventure."
—Mr. Kevin Hill, teacher at St. Raymond School in Downey, CA

From our Blog

2 weeks 5 hours ago
“The kids ask me ‘Why do you do this?’” says William Taylor, 78 years old and an Inspiring Connections Outdoors (ICO) volunteer since 2009. “I tell them, ‘Because I like being with people my own age!’”William Tayler and his son Bill hiked and camped together long before they started volunteering...
1 month 1 week ago
A walk in the woods will change a child’s life. That is, if she ever makes it to the trailhead. This week, President Obama unveiled the “Every Kid in a Park” initiative to connect children and their families with the great outdoors, ensuring millions of kids, regardless of where they live, have an...
1 month 2 weeks ago
Last week, on Thursday February 5th I joined with eighty people, many I had never met before to spend six hours inside, learning about the powerful impact time outside, in nature, has on the human body and why understanding its affects, namely the feeling of awe, is so important for us all. It was...
1 month 3 weeks ago
Looking through the window of the house he grew up in, out at the icy, mile-wide Susquehanna River, Pat Reilly, vice chair of the Harrisburg group of ICO (Inspiring Connections Outdoors), recalls a time when he and several ICO participants performed a cleanup at a local park.“It was a service trip...
2 months 21 min ago
I had the honor and privilege to attend the 10th Anniversary celebrations of the Sierra Club’s Puerto Rico Chapter last weekend. I knew I would see a different sort of Sierra Club – after all it is Puerto Rico! But what I experienced was beyond my expectations. Puerto Rico Sierra Club showed me the...