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Boulder Valley ICO is a 100% volunteer-run outreach program of the Sierra Club that provides free, safe, and fun nature outings and wilderness adventures for youth and families in Boulder County and beyond who would not otherwise have these opportunities.  

We take participants backpacking, hiking, camping, mountain biking, fishing, birding, and snowshoeing. A few of our unique trips have included wildlife camera trapping in open space, meeting wolves at a wolf sanctuary, and off-season service visits to 10th Mountain huts. 



Our mission is to provide safe and enjoyable outdoor experiences for persons who would not otherwise have them. Our primary focus is on helping youth to forge a meaningful bond with nature such that they appreciate its wonder and understand the need for its protection.

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Boulder Valley ICO is an outings section, organized under the auspices of the Sierra Club’s Colorado Chapter and with the approval of and in partnership with the Chapter’s Indian Peaks Group. We are governed by a 5-person Steering Committee that is elected by our volunteers and we operate under our own by-laws as well as National ICO policies.


The name ICO originally referred to “Inner City Outings”, a name that originated with the founding of the first ICO group in San Francisco in the early 1970s. At that time, urban and suburban demographics were quite different than they are today. ICO is a national organization with 52 groups nationwide. Nationally, the program has now been renamed to mean “Inspiring Connections Outdoors” but our work remains the same: we provide free nature outings for children and families who would not have these opportunities any other way. 

In Boulder, many ask, “Where do we find the kids? Boulder is a wealthy town.” Yes, there are many wealthy people in Boulder, and we are fortunate to have a healthy economy and a great quality of life. Yet, as with any community, there are challenges faced by many families. Your grocery clerk, hair dresser, or gardener may be head of a family that has difficulty making ends meet. Other youth face may not be able to prioritize outdoor recreation because they face a variety of challenging circumstances at home. Boulder ICO does not have a means test for the families that we serve, but we primarily serve youth of low-income families. Participants are often on the free- or reduced-price school lunch program or Medicaid. We’ve given many youth from the area their first experience backpacking, snowshoeing, camping, or skiing; it’s an amazing experience to share!

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