For Immediate Release

Contact: Kristina Ortez de Jones, Sierra Club, 505-206-9629


Hundreds of military children gather to kick off Month of the Military Child

March 31, 2012 – TRIANGLE, VA – April 1st marks the start of the Month of the Military Child. The Sierra ClubArmed Services YMCABlue Star FamiliesNational Military Family AssociationOutdoors Alliance for Kids and the National Park Service are kicking off this month with an outdoor celebration for hundreds of military children and their families at Prince William Forest Park in Triangle, Virginia. Jon Jarvis, director of the National Park Service, will speak about the importance of connecting military children with the outdoors.

“Military children serve too, and we’ve found that connecting these children with the outdoors allows them to not only have fun, but gives them and their families a sense of resiliency,” said Stacy Bare, Sierra Club Mission Outdoors Military Families and Veterans Representative.  “The outdoors heals.”

The outdoors allows children to “unplug” and connect with other military children. Military families and veterans have found that time in the outdoors helps them reconnect with families and friends, and regain positive aspects of their military experience.

“The Celebration of the Military Child Outside event will strengthen family bonding and give our military families healthy tools to help make military life easier. We are proud to partner with the Sierra Club and other non-profits on this great event and year-round,” said CEO Mike Landers of the Armed Services YMCA.

Children of deployed military families are twice as likely as those from nonmilitary families to report elevated anxiety and experience significantly higher rates of behavior problems than their peers.

“Our military children face many challenges right now,” said Mark Smith, Executive Director of Blue Star Families. “Between moves, school, and deployments, military kids really need a chance to get outside, play, and explore. That’s why we’re excited to join these military-serving organizations to celebrate military children outdoors.”

Hundreds of children with active-duty parents will get to enjoy a day of hiking, learn how to cast a fly rod and pitch tents. These types of outdoor experiences give children an opportunity to relax and reconnect with each other.

“The National Military Family Association has long shared the belief in the healing powers of the outdoors.  After more than 10 years at war, events like this that bring families together outside to make new memories are so important,” Joyce Raezer, National Military Family Association Executive Director.

Children spend an average of 7.5 hours a day connected to electronic media, and less time getting outside.

“Kids aren’t getting too many opportunities to just be kids these days,” says Jacqueline Ostfeld, Chair of the Outdoors Alliance for Kids and Sierra Club National Youth Representative. “OAK is proud to stand with military children and their families to celebrate their service and give kids an opportunity to decompress from the daily stresses they face by getting their hands dirty and enjoying some quality family time in the great outdoors.”


About the Sierra Club Mission Outdoors: Mission Outdoors is Sierra Club’s initiative to provide access to outdoor experiences to people of all ages and backgrounds.  Through direct programming, advocacy and education, Mission Outdoors aims to give all Americans a meaningful outdoor experience. Read more at

About the Armed Services YMCA: The Armed Services YMCA is a nonprofit organization designed to make military life easier. We provide support services to military service members and their families all over the world, with a particular focus on junior-enlisted men and women — the individuals on the front lines of defending our nation. At its 14 dedicated branches, the ASYMCA offers essential programs such as childcare, hospital assistance, spouse support services, food services, deployment support, emergency support, computer training classes, health and wellness services, and holiday meals, among many others.  Visit for more information.

About Blue Star Families: Blue Star Families is a national, nonprofit network of military families from all ranks and services, including guard and reserve, with a mission to support, connect and empower military families. In addition to morale and empowerment programs, Blue Star Families raises awareness of the challenges and strengths of military family life and works to make military life more sustainable. Membership includes military spouses, children and parents as well as service members, veterans and civilians. Read more at

About the National Military Family Association: Military families serve our country with pride, honor, and quiet dedication. The National Military Family Association is the leading nonprofit organization committed to strengthening and protecting the families of the men and women currently serving, retired, wounded or fallen. We provide families of the Army, Navy, Marine Corps, Air Force, Coast Guard, and Commissioned Corps of the USPHS and NOAA with information, work to get them the benefits they deserve, and offer programs that improve their lives. Our more than 40 years of service and accomplishments have made us a trusted resource for military families and the Nation’s leaders. To learn more, visit

About National Park Service’s Prince William Forest Park: Prince William Forest Park is an oasis of natural beauty and human history located only 35 miles south of Washington, DC. 37 miles of hiking trails and 21 miles of bicycle-accessible roads and trails traverse this 15,000 acre piedmont forest. Beneath its canopy lies evidence of human history reaching back to 8,000 B.C.

About the Outdoors Alliance for Kids (OAK): OAK is a national strategic partnership of organizations from diverse sectors with a common interest in expanding opportunities for children, youth and families to connect with the outdoors. OAK believes that the well-being of current and future generations, the health of our planet and communities and the economy of the future depend on humans having a personal, direct and life-long relationship with nature and the outdoors. OAK brings together more than forty national organizations across the nation. Find out more on our website:

Published by Jackie Ostfeld, OAK Chair

My name is Jackie Ostfeld. I am the co-founder and Chair of the Outdoors Alliance for Kids and the Director of Sierra Club's Outdoors for All campaign. I am an advocate for connecting kids with nature. Views are my own.

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