REI Launches Outdoor School; Makes Getting Outside Easy

This week the outdoor gear retail cooperative Recreational Equipment, Inc., (REI) is introducing its latest program designed to get people outdoors. The new REI Outdoor School offers classes and one-day guided outings that teach the basics of hiking, cycling, kayaking and more.
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This week the outdoor gear retail cooperative Recreational Equipment, Inc., (REI) is introducing its latest program designed to get people outdoors. The new REI Outdoor School offers classes and one-day guided outings that teach the basics of hiking, cycling, kayaking and more.

The REI Outdoor School is available at all REI retail locations in the Northern California, Boston, Philadelphia, Baltimore and Washington, DC, markets. Starting at just $25, the year-round program is designed for anyone interested in learning a new activity or brushing up on existing skills. While offered to REI members and non-members alike, cooperative members receive special pricing on all REI Outdoor School classes and outings.

REI's new program offering is in response to a growing number of adults who want to recreate outdoors, but sometimes feel that learning a new activity is intimidating. In addition, an Outdoor Industry Association study revealed that 69 percent of Americans are interested in trying a new outdoor activity, but are limited by time and money.

“We want to remove these and other barriers to getting outside – lack of gear, skills and people who share a common interest,” said Kristen Smith, REI Outdoor School manager. “REI Outdoor School helps by providing after-work classes, one-day weekend outings, any required gear like bikes or kayaks, knowledgeable guides, a group of like-minded individuals and even transportation to the outdoor destination. All this makes trying a new activity more accessible.”

In 2005, several of REI's Northern California stores piloted this program to great success. “With the outings, we found that our customers loved being ‘done-in-a-day' – learning a new skill or discovering a new destination, but still being home in time for dinner,” said Smith.

Classes and outings, which vary from store to store, include: hiking, hiking with dogs, backpacking, road cycling, mountain biking, kayaking, outdoor photography, camp cooking, map and compass navigation, GPS navigation and rock climbing. Several family and women's-specific offerings are also available.

All of the evening classes have weekend day trips that put new skills to practical use, but anyone may take a class or outing independently from the other. With the exception of a few intermediate level outings, none of the offerings have any prerequisites.

REI Outdoor School cycling and paddling trips are offered to adults and accompanied adolescents 14 and older, with additional opportunities for younger children on the program's family-specific outings.

For more information and to sign up for an REI Outdoor School activity, visit REI.com/outdoorschool or contact customer service at any of the participating stores.

About REI
REI is an outdoor retail cooperative dedicated to inspiring, educating and outfitting its 2.8 million active members and the community for a lifetime of outdoor adventure. Founded in 1938 by a group of Pacific Northwest mountaineers seeking quality equipment, REI operates retail stores nationwide, two online stores – REI.com and REI-OUTLET.com – the REI Outdoor School and an adventure travel company, REI Adventures. REI offers products from all of the top brands for camping, climbing, cycling, hiking, outdoor fitness, paddling, snow sports and travel, including its own line of award-winning gear and apparel. While anyone may join or shop at REI, members pay a one-time $15 fee and receive a share in the company's profits through an annual member refund based on their purchases. As an active supporter of the communities in which it does business, REI is committed to promoting environmental stewardship and increasing access to outdoor recreation through education, volunteerism, gear donations and financial contributions.

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EDITOR'S NOTE: Interviews with REI Outdoor School guides are available upon request.

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