REI and the Leave No Trace Center for Outdoor Ethics have launched a new program designed to educate children about the outdoors, and the responsible use of public lands.
The Promoting Environmental Awareness in Kids (PEAK) program, based on the seven Leave No Trace principles of environmental ethics, aims to teach minimum impact outdoor skills to children between the ages of six and 12. Incorporating elements of experiential and environmental education, the program includes four lessons – each with activities designed for different age groups.

Components of the PEAK program feature a variety of fun and colorful illustrated characters, such as Trek & Track (pair of hiking boots), Zoom (binoculars), Digger (shovel), Flash (camera), Pointer (compass), Sparks (camp stove) and Pitch (tent). Coupled with hands-on activities and interactive games, the program engages children with important environmental messages in an entertaining manner.

“We're thrilled about the new PEAK program because it's easy, fun and engages youth in an interactive, experiential setting,” said Dana Watts, executive director of the Leave No Trace Center for Outdoor Ethics. “Since each of the four activities can be delivered in 30-60 minutes, PEAK will meet the various needs of educators and organizations with an interest in responsible use of the outdoors.”

The free program, packaged in REI backpacks, is offered in two user-friendly versions – one is designed for use by REI employees for in-store and community presentations, and the other is available for use by educators, camp directors, youth group leaders, outdoor guides and individuals interested in teaching about the maintenance and preservation of shared public lands for future generations.

“The new PEAK packs are an easy way to incorporate lessons on environmental ethics to existing youth programs,” said Dennis Madsen, REI's president and CEO. “We're expecting to reach more than 20,000 youth with these important messages this year in hopes of helping create the next generation of environmental stewards.”

For the past three years REI stores nationally have piloted the program, which resulted in this new and improved program being launched today. Funding for the PEAK pilot and newly launched program was provided to the Leave No Trace Center for Outdoor Ethics through $120,000 in grants from REI.