Providing free nature outings and adventures to youth who would other wise not have such opportunities, Boulder Valley ICO is entirely volunteer run.

See our new website for more information on our program.

Monday, December 29, 2008

Online Donations Now Available!

A humble request to check out how our new and secure online donation page works. Try the link out or click the Donate Now button above. 

Even a small donation of $25. or so can go a long ways. ICO is an all volunteer-run organization, so donations go directly to fund outings, not overhead or salary. To run our outings, we need to pay for gear, food, fuel, and permits. Your donation is 100% tax-deductible, and you will receive an acknowledgement of your gift from the Sierra Club Foundation. The monies don't go to San Francisco; they will be used right here in Colorado. Boulder Valley ICO is, in fact, a trend setter, being the first ICO group in the nation to collect donations online! Show us how cool this is by supporting our growth and continued success with an online contribution today.

Thank you and Happy New Year.

Saturday, December 13, 2008

Canyonlands National Park Report

Just before Thanksgiving, sixteen youth and eight adults from Boulder Valley ICO and the Colorado Youth Program (thanks, CYP!) had a 4-day adventure in the Needles District of Canyonlands National Park, Utah. We took full advantage of the school break and the fine late fall weather in Colorado and Utah. We left Boulder around 8AM, traveling in CYP's van and private vehicles. We stopped for lunch in Fruita, and had a final taste of civilization in Moab before arriving in the Needles at sunset (around 5PM this time of year). Camp was set at Squaw Flat, where we built a campfire and cooked hotdogs and veggie dogs on coat hangers. We discussed important subjects around the fire and had a trivia contest with S'mores as the reward for correct answers. The dark night sky of Canyonlands is spectacular, and we took an amazing night hike before tucking ourselves into bed. We awoke to a bright, sunny day that warmed up quickly. Our hearty breakfast of pancakes and sausage took a while to prepare, but it was worth it. We ran around like crazies gearing up for the next 2.5 days of backpacking. We split into smaller hiking groups and checked in at the visitors' center for our permits. Then it was time to hit the trail! Group 1's slideshow is below, and Group 3's (CYP's) pictures are linked below that. 

Group 1 enjoyed climbing rocks, identifying scat, filtering sand through our fingers, the hot conditions at our first campsite, and, to cap it off, our final silent skit at the end of our 2.5 day hike:

Colorado Youth Program's Canyonlands Photos.

On the 4th day, we met around noon at the visitors' center and drove back to Colorado. All in all, it was a great adventure, and we were very lucky to have such a wonderful group of youth and leaders!

Boulder Valley ICO is entirely run by volunteers and funded by donors like you. We spent over $1300. on Canyonlands, but including the in-kind donations by volunteers and CYP (such as vehicle mileage, gas, and some of the food), the trip cost at least $2500. That still doesn't count much of our gear, which has been supplied by donations and generous business sponsors like La Sportiva and REI, and the over 800 hours of volunteer time devoted to this trip. This is a valuable program that is free to participants, but it costs money to run. Won't you consider making a donation? Donations are tax-deductible, and you will receive an acknowledgment of your gift from the Sierra Club Foundation. Online donations will be available soon, but in the meantime you can mail a check to the address below. If you have questions, please contact us at

Checks payable to "Sierra Club Foundation - Boulder Valley ICO" can be mailed to:

Sierra Club Foundation - Boulder Valley ICO
637 B S Broadway
Suite B, No 117
Boulder, CO 80305

Thank you, and have a wonderful holiday season!

Monday, December 8, 2008

About Water Sentinels

Boulder Valley ICO partners with the Water Sentinels program, the City of Boulder, and Trout Unlimited to run monthly water sampling/fly fishing outings in Boulder County. Water Sentinels is a national surface water sampling program of the Sierra Club which supplies our sampling equipment and primary funding for these outings. The City of Boulder supports these outings by paying for laboratory analysis of the samples collected. Trout Unlimited is the conservation voice of the angling community, and it provides volunteers who teach fly fishing and fly tying to our outing participants.

These outings begin with water sampling along a stretch of Goose Creek that is of interest to the City of Boulder. We test the oxygenation and conductivity of the water and take samples for laboratory analysis of the water’s iron and nutrient content. We then go fishing at Sawhill Ponds or along Boulder Creek. After that, we get pizza.

Boulder Valley ICO is proud to have piloted the combination of water sampling and fly fishing outings as part of the Water Sentinels program. Water Sentinels has now replicated this outing format throughout the country. Pairing water sampling with fly fishing results in much higher rates of participation in both facets of the program. It also helps participants understand the connection between water quality, macroinvertibrate populations, and, of course, fish.

Our sites:

View Larger Map

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Saturday, October 18, 2008

Gear Guide - Guia de la Ropa Recomendala

Boulder Valley ICO Gear Guide

The Boulder Group of the Sierra Club’s Inner City Outings program takes participants on real wilderness adventures where proper clothing and equipment is important for safety. With each outings permission slip, we provide an information sheet that lists what gear participants should bring on the outing. This guide explains those listed items in greater detail.

Guía de la Ropa Recomendada por Boulder Valley ICO

El programa de excursiones Inner City Outings del Grupo Sierra Club de Boulder lleva a los participantes a experimentar verdaderas aventuras al aire libre para las que, por su seguridad, es muy importante tener la ropa y los equipos apropiados. Con la hoja de permiso de cada excursión, proporcionamos una lista de la ropa que los participantes necesitan llevar. Esta guía detalla las características de estos artículos.

What Do We Have Against Cotton?

When clothing made from cotton becomes wet (whether from rain, snow, or perspiration) it can become a real danger to the wearer, particularly when that clothing is worn directly against the skin. Wet cotton worn directly against the skin causes the wearer to lose body heat very quickly, creating a risk of hypothermia (dangerously low body temperature) even in relatively warm weather. Wet cotton clothing also takes a long time to dry out. For this reason, it causes the skin against which it is worn to soften and, thus, promotes chaffing and the formation of blisters.

To avoid, these problems ICO recommends that participants bring as little cotton clothing on our outings as possible. Of course, we realize that many participants own very little clothing that is not made of cotton. For this reason, we recommend that parents seriously consider purchasing at least one outfit of non-cotton clothing for use on our outings. This outfit should include a pair of hiking pants, a long-sleeved shirt, long underwear, a fleece sweater, and at least two pair of wool or polypropylene hiking socks. We recommend that you buy this clothing in a size that is large enough that it will fit for longer than a single year. We estimate that a complete non-cotton outfit can be purchased for under $100. Boulder Valley ICO does maintain a supply of non-cotton clothing, but we do not have every item in every size.

It is not necessary to have a complete non-cotton outfit for each day of a multi-day outing. It is usually enough to have one such outfit to wear while hiking, changing only underwear and socks each day. At camp, cotton clothing can usually be worn, provided it’s not raining or snowing heavily.

¿Que Tenemos Contra el Algodón?

La ropa de algodón mojada (ya sea a causa de la lluvia, de la nieve o del sudor) puede representar un peligro real para el que la lleva, en particular cuando esa prenda está pegada a la piel. El algodón mojado junto a la piel causa un bajón inmediato de temperatura corporal, creando el riesgo de hipotermia (temperatura corporal peligrosamente baja) aún cuando el clima es relativamente cálido. La ropa de algodón mojada también tarda mucho en secarse por lo que al estar en contacto directo con la piel, hace que ésta se ablande, se agriete y forme ampollas.

Para evitar estos problemas, ICO recomienda que los participantes traigan la menor cantidad posible de ropa de algodón. Por supuesto sabemos que muchos participantes no tienen mucha ropa que no esté hecha de algodón y por esta razón recomendamos que los padres consideren seriamente comprar al menos un conjunto de ropa que no sea de algodón para usar en nuestras excursiones. Este conjunto debería incluir un par de pantalones para hacer senderismo, una camiseta de manga larga, pantalones de ropa interior largos, una chaqueta de forro polar y al menos dos pares de calcetines de lana o de polipropileno para hacer senderismo. Recomendamos que compren estas prendas en una talla lo suficientemente grande para que le duren al usuario más de un año. Nosotros calculamos que un conjunto completo puede costar unos $100 o menos. Boulder Valley ICO tiene un surtido de este tipo de ropa pero no tenemos todas las cosas en todas las tallas.

No es necesario tener un conjunto completo distinto para cada día que dure una excursión. Suele bastar con tener uno para hacer senderismo pero si se deben tener pantalones largos de ropa interior y calcetines para cambiarse todos los días. Los participantes pueden llevar ropa de algodón en el campamento siempre que no esté lloviendo o nevando demasiado.

The Importance of Layers

Controlling body temperature in the backcountry is extremely important for both comfort and safety. What may feel like a warm day when hiking up the mountain can suddenly feel cold and windy when one stops for lunch or to set camp. In order to adjust for changing conditions, we recommend layering. A good layering system begins with a synthetic base layer against the skin, followed by an insulating layer, and then a windproof layer. If the windproof layer is not also waterproof, then a breathable waterproof layer should also be carried. These last two layers should fit loosely enough that additional insulating layers can be added in really cold weather.

La Importancia de Llevar Varias Capas de Ropa

Controlar la temperatura del cuerpo en el campo es sumamente importante tanto a efectos de comodidad como de seguridad. Lo que puede parecer un día cálido al subir a las montañas puede transformarse repentinamente en temperaturas frías y en vientos fuertes al parar a comer o a montar las tiendas de campaña. Para poder adaptarnos a los cambios de tiempo, recomendamos que los jóvenes se pongan varias capas de ropa. Un buen sistema comienza con una prenda interior sintética que esté en contacto directo con el cuerpo, seguida de una capa aisladora y después de una capa que resguarde del viento. Si esta última capa no es también impermeable, entonces se debería llevar también una prenda transpirable impermeable. Estas dos últimas capas deberían quedar lo suficientemente sueltas como para poder añadir más capas aisladoras en caso de mucho frío.

Saturday, June 28, 2008

Great trip planning websites

Around Colorado : "A Photographic Diary of Colorado Adventure," this site is beautiful and informative. Incredible pictures, great trip reports, and links to other resources. Worth a look, even though it seems not to have been updated since 2006.

CoTrip : Current statewide road conditions from state officials

Weather service: National weather service has the most straightforward forecasts.

TrailCentral: Trail overviews and user comments, caters to mountain biking.

Sunday, June 22, 2008

Gear Drive at REI, Boulder


We lend our participants all the equipment they need for our outings. This trip served 19 youth backpacking in Canyonlands National Park, requiring scrounging around for lots of gear! If you have gear in functioning condition just taking up space in your closet, please consider donating that gear to ICO.

The REI Store in Boulder will collect used gear for Boulder Valley ICO during the months of July and August. If you have new or used gear that you would like to donate to ICO, just place the gear in the donation bin located near the entrance of the Boulder store.

Although we will gratefully accept any useful outdoor gear, the gear we most need (in order of need from greatest to least) is listed below:

Base layer shirts (youth medium to adult large)
Hiking pants (youth medium to adult large)
Hiking boots (sizes 5 through 13 – waterproof or which can be waterproofed)
Packable rain jackets (youth large to adult medium)
Sleeping bags (20+ rating or colder, under 3.5 lbs)
Inflatable or foam sleeping mattress (¾ length)
MSR Simmerlite stove and fuel bottle (or other brand)
Water filter for backpacking
Lexan water bottles (with standard lid)
2-person or 3-person, 3-season backpacking tents
Two-burner propane-canister stove
Internal frame packs
Winter boots (sizes 5 through 13)
First aid kits for backpacking
GPS unit
Satellite phone
Telemark skis and boots
Climbing helmets (small to medium sizes)
Trekking poles

Contact us at with any gear-related questions you might have.

Angevine video draws recruits for fishing trip

Our partner agency Angevine Middle School has been attracting lots of new kids for our outings with videos like this one, which are aired on the school's closed-circuit TV. And of course, these videos are posted to YouTube.

What are your ideas for recruitment?

Saturday, June 21, 2008

Welcome to the Boulder Valley Inner City Outings!


Boulder Valley Inner City Outings (ICO) is a community outreach program of the Sierra Club that provides free nature outings to children (and adults) who would not otherwise have these opportunities. We take participants backpacking, hiking, fishing, snowshoeing, camping, mountain biking, skiing, canoeing, etc. We also run a water sampling and fly fishing program in partnership with the Sierra Club’s Water Sentinels program and Trout Unlimited. And our Compass Youth Leadership program teaches more advanced outdoor leadership skills, critical thinking skills, the basics of environmental stewardship, and basic earth and life science to kids with leadership potential.

We are proud to be part of this community and are psyched to have our own Inner City Outings group in Boulder! We were formerly part of the Denver Inner City Outings Group.

Boulder Valley ICO is entirely run by volunteers and funded by donors like you. Won't you consider making a donation? Donations are tax-deductible, and you will receive an acknowledgment of your gift from the Sierra Club Foundation. Online donations will be available soon, but in the meantime you can mail a check to the address below. If you have questions, please contact us at

Checks payable to "Sierra Club Foundation - Boulder Valley ICO" may be mailed to:

Sierra Club Foundation - Boulder Valley ICO
637 B S Broadway
Suite B, No 117
Boulder, CO 80305

Please watch this space for news, trip reports, photos and more!