10.25.2016
CEO Jerry Stritzke invites nonprofits and companies with shared values to join the growing movement of 300 national and local organizations advocating for time outside with family and friends 

SEATTLE – REI, the outdoor co-op, thanks hundreds of nonprofit, public and private sector partners who announced the launch of #OptOutside yesterday. Prominent national and local organizations shared that they are joining with REI employees to create a new tradition for people to reconnect with friends and family outdoors at this important time of year. In the coming weeks, #OptOutside will lift up and celebrate people who dedicate their lives to the outdoors.
 
In a public letter on the Co-op Journal, Stritzke writes, “REI is committed to advancing this conversation about the outdoors and its benefits. This is a multifaceted topic, so for the next month you will hear from experts across the outdoor community about the power of nature to heal, the value of childhood play outdoors, the importance of nurturing and conserving our public lands, and the increasing need for diversity in the outdoors.”
 
Alex Thompson, REI vice president of Public Affairs, said, “Nonprofits and government agencies that steward the outdoors are at the heart of #OptOutside, but we also believe that many unexpected organizations can help remove barriers to the outdoors. We need to talk more about how we can collaborate to give people access to the benefits of the outdoors, even if it isn’t a part of their lives today.”
 
REI will publish viewpoints from leaders of organizations committed to advocating for the outdoors throughout #OptOutside. Upworthy, the mission-driven media company, plans to drive conversation about the important mental and physical health benefits of being outside. For those who don’t know where to go for outdoor adventure, the co-op has launched new online activity-finding tool to help people find places to explore nearby and further afield. REI employees have curated an extensive list of trails and parks, many nurtured by the groups joining #OptOutside.
 
The organizations choosing to #OptOutside and to bring others with them represent a range of perspectives, but share a common belief in the value of time spent in nature. New #OptOutside activities keep rolling in. They include:
 
  • Over 20 friends groups that dedicate themselves to supporting National Parks have indicated they’ll be urging Americans to visit their favorite National Park unit on Black Friday. The groups include Yosemite Conservancy, Yellowstone Association, Washington’s National Park Fund, Friends of the Smokies (N.C.), the Apostle Islands National Lakeshore (Wis.) and Friends of Acadia (Maine).
  • As with last year, entrance fees for all 75 Minnesota state parks and recreation areas will be waived on Black Friday.
  • The YMCA of the USA shares REI’s commitment to family and an outdoor life. The national Y will be asking 51 Let’s Move Outside cities to organize free outside activities for kids and families on Black Friday. The goal of Let’s Move Outside is to create partnerships among community organizations and government land managers to get more youth outside.
  • The Trust for Public Land – a national organization that helps communities raise funds, acquire and protect land, plan and design parks – will hold a nationwide photo contest for people to show off their favorite places to #OptOutside. 
  • The Association for Experiential Education – a professional association of the nation’s outdoor educators – will promote #OptOutside to the nearly 700 attendees at its annual conference later this week.
  • Hundreds of local stewardship, outdoor education and environmental organizations will activate in the run-up to, and on Black Friday. Examples include:
    • Biking and mountain biking events will be hosted by Southern Outdoor Bicycle Association of Jacksonville (SORBA Jax), the Park at Big Marsh (Chicago), San Diego Mountain Biking Association and Singletrack Advocates (Anchorage).
    • Huron-Clinton Metroparks (Mich.) is hosting an Evening Owl Prowl. After in indoor class, the group will head out to see if it can attract Screech Owls with recorded calls.
    • The Buckeye Trail Association – the stewards of a trail system that goes all the way around Ohio – will host a series of outdoor events among its different chapters.
    • Friends of Island Lake (Mich.) will host a hike to celebrate its new 5-mile Hickory Ridge Hike and Ski Trail.
    • Friends of the Wissahickon (Philadelphia) will urge people to complete a hike, bike or ride on all 50 miles of trail in the Wissahickon Valley Park in the run-up to Black Friday.
    • The Rock Creek Conservancy (Washington, D.C.) will host an Unplugged Day.
    • Canyon Adventures in Southern California is offering a free one-day, Level One Canyoneering Class, including lessons on wilderness safety and preservation.
    • Methow Trails (Wash.) is opening its ski trails for free to REI members.
    • Islandwood on Bainbridge Island, Wash. will open the trails on its 255-acre campus to the public for a special #OptOutside edition of its quarterly Afternoon on the Trails.
    • The Salem Area Trail Alliance (Ore.) will hold a work party at Silver Falls State Park.
    • Washington Trails Association will host trail work days for anyone who want to volunteer.
    • Other nonprofits – like the Tahoe Rim Trail Association (Calif.) and Conejos Clean Water (Colo.) are closing and giving their employees a paid day off.
  • The co-op also recognizes Hellstern Middle School (Springdale, Ariz.), who will coordinate family friendly outdoor activities on Black Friday.
 
Nonprofit and Government Partners:
  • 52 Hike Challenge
  • Access Fund
  • AIRIE
  • Alaska Wilderness League
  • Alliance For The Great Lakes
  • Amargosa Conservancy
  • American Alpine Club
  • American Camp Association
  • American Hiking Society
  • American River Conservancy
  • American Rivers
  • American Trails
  • American Whitewater
  • Amigos de Bolsa Chica
  • Anacostia Watershed Society Inc.
  • Anoka County Parks
  • Anne Springs Close Greenway
  • Apostle Islands National Lakeshore
  • Appalachian Trail Conservancy
  • Archaeology Southwest
  • Arizona Trail Association
  • Armand Bayou Nature Center
  • Association for Experiential Education
  • Association of Outdoor Recreation and Education
  • Atlanta Beltline Partnership
  • Austin Parks Foundation
  • Backcountry Hunters and Anglers
  • Bay Area Ridge Trail Council
  • Big Bend National Park
  • Big Marsh
  • Black Girls Do Bike
  • Blue Sky Funders
  • Bob Jones Nature Center
  • Boston Harbor Now
  • Boulder Climbing Community
  • Boy Scout Troop 44 (Renton, Wash.)
  • Buckeye Trail Association
  • C&O Canal Trust Inc.
  • California State Parks
  • California State Parks Foundation
  • Camber Outdoors
  • Canyon Adventures
  • Carolina Mountain Land Conservancy
  • Carolina Thread Trail
  • Catamount Institute
  • Central Ohio Mountain Biking Organization
  • Central Oregon Land Watch
  • Children & Nature Network
  • Choose Outdoors
  • Cincinnati Off-Road Alliance
  • City Of Lakes Nordic Ski Foundation, The Loppet Foundation
  • City of Olympia, Parks Stewardship
  • City Parks Alliance
  • Clark Fork Coalition
  • Clean Jordan Lake
  • Climbing Resource Advocates for Greater Sacramento
  • Colorado Canyons Association
  • Colorado Mountain Bike Association
  • Colorado Outdoor Recreation Industry Office
  • Colorado Parks & Wildlife
  • Colorado Youth Corps
  • Commonweal Conservancy, Inc.
  • Conejos Clean Water
  • Conservation Alliance
  • Conservation Colorado
  • Conservation Lands Foundation
  • Conservation Legacy
  • Consortium for Ocean Leadership
  • Continental Divide Trail Coalition
  • Creation Justice Ministries
  • Denali Education Center
  • Dolan Springs Trail System
  • Dunes Learning Center
  • EarthCorps
  • East Coast Greenway Alliance
  • Eastern National
  • Ecotrust
  • Essex Heritage
  • Everett Mountain Search & Rescue
  • Families in Nature
  • First State National Historical Park
  • Florida Hikes
  • Forest Park Conservancy
  • Forest Preserve Foundation
  • Forterra
  • Friends and Neighbors of the Deschutes Canyon Area
  • Friends of Acadia
  • Friends of Capitol Forest
  • Friends of Crowders Mountian, Inc.
  • Friends of Eagle River Nature Center Inc.
  • Friends of Great Smoky Mountains National Park
  • Friends of Island Lake State Recreation Area
  • Friends of Organ Mountains
  • Friends of Scotchman Peaks Wilderness
  • Friends of Sloan Canyon, NV
  • Friends of Tandy Hills Natural Area
  • Friends of the Arizona Joshua Tree Forest
  • Friends of The Blue Hills Charitable Trust
  • Friends of the Boundary Waters Wilderness
  • Friends of the Chicago River
  • Friends of the Columbia Gorge
  • Friends of the High Line Inc.
  • Friends of the Inyo
  • Friends of the Lower Olentangy Watershed (FLOW)
  • Friends of the Mississippi River
  • Friends of the Wissahickon
  • Friends of Trees
  • Friends of Van Cortland Park
  • Friends of Virgin Islands National Park
  • Friends of White Clay Creek State Park
  • Gallatin Valley Land Trust
  • Galveston Bay Foundation
  • Georgia Trail Summit
  • GetOutHereHouston.org
  • Girl Trek
  • Glacier National Park Conservancy
  • Grand Canyon Association
  • Grand Staircase Escalante Partners
  • Great Outdoors Colorado
  • Great Parks
  • Great Peninsula Conservancy
  • Hellstern Middle School
  • Hill Country Conservancy and the Violet Crown Trail
  • Hip Camp
  • Hoosier Mountain Bike Association
  • Houston Arboretum & Nature Center
  • Houston Wilderness
  • Huron-Clinton Metroparks Foundation
  • Ice Age Trail Alliance
  • Idaho Conservation League
  • Idaho Trails Association
  • IMBA
  • Inspiring Connections Outdoors – Sierra Club Outdoors
  • Islandwood, Bainbridge
  • Jacksonville State University Field School
  • Jefferson County Open Space
  • Kansas Wildlife, Parks & Tourism
  • Katy Prairie Conservancy
  • Keep Indianapolis Beautiful
  • Kwiaht
  • Latino Outdoors
  • Lawrence – Hopewell Trail Corporation
  • Leave No Trace
  • Legacy Parks Foundation
  • Los Padres Forest Association Inc.
  • Los Padres ForestWatch
  • Lower Colorado River Authority
  • Marine Conservation Institute
  • Mat-Su Ski Club
  • Methow Trails
  • Mid-Atlantic Off Road Enthusiasts
  • Minnesota State Parks and Trails
  • Mississippi National River and Recreation Area (Coldwater Spring)
  • Mississippi Park Connection
  • Mojave Desert Land Trust
  • Montana Conservation Corps
  • Montana Wilderness Association
  • MTB Missoula
  • National Association of State Park Directors
  • National Forest Foundation
  • National Park Foundation
  • National Park Service
  • National Park Service Chesapeake Bay
  • National Parks Conservation Association
  • National Recreation and Park Association
  • Natural Leaders Network
  • Nature Bridge
  • Nature Discovery Center
  • Nearby Nature
  • New Mexico Volunteers for the Outdoors
  • New Mexico Wilderness Alliance
  • New York-New Jersey Trail Conference Inc.
  • Newport Bay Naturalists and Friends
  • North American Association for Environmental Education
  • North Cascades Institute
  • North Country Trail Association
  • Norwalk River Watershed Association Inc.
  • OAK
  • Opal Creek Ancient Forest Center
  • Openlands
  • Oregon Natural Desert Association Inc.
  • Oregon State Parks Foundation
  • Outdoor Afro
  • Outdoor Alliance
  • Outdoor Foundation
  • Outdoor Nation
  • Outside Las Vegas Foundation
  • PA Cleanways d.b.a. Keep Pennsylvania Beautiful
  • Pacific Crest Trail Association
  • Palm Beach County Parks and Recreation
  • Palmetto Conservation Foundation
  • Palos Verdes Peninsula Land Conservancy
  • Park Pride Atlanta Inc.
  • Partnership for the 21CSC
  • Pennsylvania Parks and Forest Foundation
  • People for Bikes
  • Pittsburgh Parks Conservancy
  • Placer Land Trust
  • Potomac Appalachian Trail Club Inc.
  • Potomac Conservancy
  • Rails to Trails Conservancy
  • Regional Parks Foundation
  • River Relief Inc.
  • Riverfront Recapture Inc.
  • Riverside State Park Foundation
  • Rock Creek Conservancy
  • Rocky Mountain Field Institute
  • Sail Sand Point
  • Salem Area Trail Alliance
  • San Diego Canyonlands Inc.
  • San Diego Mountain Biking Association
  • San Diego River Park Foundation
  • San Diego Water Trail Association
  • San Dieguito River Valley Land Conservancy
  • San Mateo County Parks And Recreation Foundation
  • Santa Monica Mountains Fund
  • Save Our Canyons
  • Save the Redwoods League
  • Seed Your Future
  • Sempervirens Fund
  • SF Rec and Park
  • SheJumps
  • Shoal Creek Conservancy
  • Sierra Avalanche Center
  • Sierra Club
  • Sierra Club Outdoors
  • Sierra Club Outdoors – Military
  • Sierra Foothill Conservancy
  • Singletrack Advocates
  • Sonoma County Regional Parks Foundation
  • SORBA – Upstate SC
  • SORBA Jax
  • SOS Outreach
  • Southeastern Trust for Parks and Land
  • St. Croix River Association
  • Surfrider Foundation
  • Sweetbriar Outdoors
  • Tahoe Rim Trail Association
  • Tapteal Greenway
  • Tarheel Trailblazers
  • Tennessee Scenic Rivers Association
  • Texas Conservation Corps – American Youth Works
  • Texas State Park Ambassadors
  • The Corps Network
  • The Friends of Cheasty Greenspace at Mt.View (FCGMV)
  • The Land Trust of the Treasure Valley
  • The Mazamas
  • The Meadows Center for Water and the Environment at Texas State University
  • The Mountaineers
  • The Ocean Foundation, Washington, D.C.
  • The Park People
  • The Timucuan Ecological and Historic Preserve
  • The Trustees
  • The Western Slope Conservation Center
  • The Wilderness Society
  • Theodore Roosevelt Conservation Partnership
  • Timucuan Trail Parks Foundation
  • Trails 50
  • Trails and Open Space Coalition
  • Transforming Youth Outdoors
  • Treasure Valley Family YMCA
  • Treepeople Inc.
  • Truckee Donner Land Trust
  • Trust for Public Land
  • Trust for the George Washington Parkway
  • Ventana Wilderness Alliance A Non Profit California Corporation
  • Venture Out Project
  • Vive Northwest
  • Voyageurs National Park Association
  • Washington Area Bicycle Association
  • Washington State Trails Coalition
  • Washington Trails Association
  • Washington’s National Park Fund
  • Washington Wildlife and Recreation Coalition
  • Weber Pathways
  • Weir Farm National Historic Site
  • Western Rivers Conservancy
  • Whatcom Land Trust
  • Wild Olympics
  • Wild Salmon Center
  • Wilderness Awareness
  • Wildlands Restoration Volunteers
  • Willamette Riverkeeper
  • Winter Wildlands
  • Wissahickon Valley Watershed Association Inc.
  • Yellowstone Association
  • Yellowstone to Yukon Conservation Initiative
  • YMCA
  • YMCA of Greater Omaha
  • Yosemite Conservancy
Brands and Companies
  • Adventure Advertising
  • Arc’teryx
  • Big Agnes
  • Burton
  • Cooperative Council of North Carolina
  • Google
  • Honey Stinger
  • KEEN
  • KÜHL
  • Meetup
  • Outdoor Research
  • prAna
  • Royal Gorge Zipline Tours
  • Subaru of America
  • Sustainable Brand
  • Terrapin Beer Compan
  • Upworthy
  • YETI
 
About REI
REI is a specialty outdoor retailer, headquartered near Seattle. The nation’s largest consumer co-op, REI is a growing community of more than 6 million active members who expect and love the best quality gear, inspiring expert classes and trips, and outstanding customer service. REI has 148 stores in 36 states. If you can’t visit a store, you can shop at REI.comREI.com/REI-Garage or the free REI shopping app. REI isn’t just about gear. You can take the trip of a lifetime with REI Adventures, a global leader in active adventure travel that runs 170 custom-designed itineraries on every continent. REI’s Outdoor School is run by professionally-trained, expert-instructors who teach beginner- to advanced-level courses about a wide range of activities. To build on the infrastructure that makes life outside possible, REI invests millions annually in hundreds of local and national nonprofits that create access to–and steward–the outdoor places that inspire us.
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