“Free outdoor school” are magical words to parents’ ears. As the father to a soon-to-be middle schooler, I cringe at the thought of fundraising to defray the costs of his week-long adventure. So imagine my happiness after hearing REI is changing things up this year by offering free outdoor school classes from July 30-31.
The retailer’s program isn’t new, but the prospect of taking any class for free is definitely fresh. REI’s outdoor school classes run the gamut from free social activities to full-on trainings that cost upwards of $75 per person for non-members. The free outdoor school weekend, though, will make more than 400 classes and events nationwide free for that two-day period.
Not everything will be gratis. “Many” of the REI Outdoor School’s most-popular paid classes will be free that weekend, including How to Ride a Bike, Learn to Stand-Up Paddleboard and Introduction to Outdoor Rock Climbing. Some of the company’s guided hikes will also be free. You can see the full list of free outdoor school classes, and register for them, at this link.
REI Outdoor School is the co-op’s signature outdoor education programming. It is available in 145 stores across 35 states, and according to REI, more than 254,000 people in 2015 learned a new activity or advanced their skills through these classes, field programs and day outings. All told, the activities span cycling, paddling, fitness, hiking, camping, climbing, snow sports, photography and wilderness medicine.
If you’re one of the people who takes advantage of REI’s free outdoor school classes July 30-31, you should know that you’ll also stay fed. REI is partnering with vendors to provide free snacks in addition to the 400 free classes and events. Some of the classes sound pretty sweet: they’ll range from urban locations such as the HighLine in Manhattan to Devil’s Kitchen Trail at the Colorado National Monument. Just make sure you register soon. As of this writing, many classes were already full.