It's summer and that means it’s time to get out and enjoy Canada’s majestic parks and wilderness areas!

When I was a kid, I used get up early on Saturday mornings, pack a lunch and head to the creek! That was my wilderness area where I forded rivers, climbed trees & scaled cliffs. You see I was an explorer, or maybe that day I was a soldier or some other heroic figure I saw on TV the night before. Down by the creek I was free and could be anything I wanted for a few hours every Saturday…until they built the golf course, that is.

One fall day the Canadian Tire catalogue arrived in the mail. That was a big deal for me – I think I spent the next 3 days ogling through the product packed pages. I particularly remember circling backpacks in the catalogue hoping Mom or Dad would notice! After all, any real outdoor adventurer needs a backpack (explorers need something to carry their lunch!). With seven mouths to feed, there wasn't much room for outdoor adventure equipment in my family’s budget, but I eventually bought one with my paper route money.

One fall weekend, my scout troop was scheduled to go on a 10-mile hike along the Niagara Escarpment. Needless to say I was excited about the adventure.

We were all responsible for making our own wilderness packs and so we set out on the task. My fellow scouts and I dutifully fastened our tents, sleeping bags, food and supplies to our homemade backpacks and were ready to go.

Unfortunately, shortly after leaving the Kelso Conservation Area and making our way up (what looked to us like) a mountain, many of the homemade packs began coming undone and we found ourselves chasing our supplies down the hill (mine stayed intact, miraculously).

As usual, our scout troop was late to start and now the sun was starting to go down. It quickly dawned on the scout leaders that our 10-mile overnight hike wasn’t going to happen.

For want of proper outdoor equipment, we only made it three-quarters of the way up the hill and that's as far as we ever got. I've always wondered what we missed…it was a crushing experience for us little adventurists.

In hindsight, Sierra Club Canada is a lot like my old scout troop: eager, committed, looking for adventure, and lacking in the way of equipment and resources! But Sierra Club Canada always makes it all the way up the mountain, despite the odds and disadvantages.

So I was thrilled when our good friend José Ponsoda, owner of the Expedition Shoppe here in Ottawa, offered us two great outdoor adventure kits (a HIS and HERS). Each kit includes a Highland Trail backpack, Tilley Airflo hat and BPA-free Polar Bear water bottle. It’s really high quality gear and I am happy to report nothing contains animal fur! Each kit is valued at over $300.

We would like to see them go to a good home where they’ll be put to good use…and we know that could be you!

There are two ways to enter your name to win – it’s really quick and easy!


  1. Email us an action picture of yourself in one of Canada’s National Parks; OR

  2. Make a donation of $25 or more through our secure website.

NOTE: You can still donate $25 even if you go with option #1 (and send us an action photo). We promise we won’t complain – in fact, you’ll be helping us get up that next mountain!

José’s kind out-of-the-blue gesture has me feeling nostalgic – I think I’ll make a date with Gatineau Park this weekend.

Maybe I’ll see you there in your new outdoor gear!

Yours sincerely,

John Bennett, Executive Director
Sierra Club Canada
412-1 Nicholas Street
Ottawa, Ontario K1N 7B7
John on Twitter / Bennett Blog



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