Big City Mountaineers instills critical life skills in under-resourced youth through transformative wilderness mentoring experiences.
Big City Mountaineers provides free, fully outfitted, and professionally led backpacking trips and overnight camps for under-resourced youth in Colorado.
Over the last 30 years, BCM has served 10,000+ students, conducted 800+ expeditions, organized 5,000+ volunteers, led 100+ overnight camps, and provided 45,000+ nights under the stars. We want kids to get outside and dream big.
We provide access to the outdoors for youth, so they can soak up all the benefits of being connected to the natural world. We support them with caring adult mentors, so that they see that difference is celebrated. We use the power of the outdoors to reveal the strength, the adaptability, and the resilience that students already possess, and encourage them to use these discoveries in their daily lives.
Our program model relies on People, Partnerships, and Places:
*People: On expedition, our students are paired in a 1:1 ratio with adult mentors. They receive ample support, both from trip instructors and volunteer mentors, to achieve personal goals. Having a professional trip instructor - who acts as both a facilitator and an experienced guide - on each expedition ensures top notch curriculum delivery and a challenging but safe experience for students.Our thorough vetting, recruiting and training process ensures that all mentors are prepared for a successful mentoring experience.
*Partnerships: We partner with community-based youth development agencies to identify and hand-select under-resourced youth that would benefit from the BCM experience. This partnership model maximizes ongoing youth impact in their communities, and allows agencies to play a key role in recruitment, preparation, and support during the experience. In fact, staff from each agency join us on expedition to ensure the needs and goals of each student are being met, that the youth feel comfortable on expedition, and to ensure the transference of lessons learned after expedition is over. To ensure we stay focused on the students who need our services the most, BCM partners with agencies not often engaged in the outdoors: refugee placement groups, immigrant welcome centers, organizations serving youth-at-risk, transitional housing communities, and youth development community centers. 90% of our students have their first wilderness experience in our programs, which has a profound effect on the experience - and on the students themselves.
*Places: The power of nature is inspirational, and our expeditions take youth into some of the most stunning places in Colorado. From the Flat Tops Wilderness to the Holy Cross Wilderness, from the Raggeds Wilderness to Rocky Mountain National Park, each of our expedition areas is hand-selected for its beauty and for its potential for student skill development. As students on expedition spend six nights under the stars, they begin to relate to their environments in deep and abiding ways. The length and depth of student experiences in these places is a key factor in our ability to nurture personal connections to the outdoors and effect positive change in the lives of students we serve.
"I have made new goals to become a more understanding and friendly person. Lately I've been pretty shut out so I feel like this trip has allowed me to achieve these goals and I hope that I can carry them into my everyday life."
"I learned I am stronger than I think and can do whatever I set my mind to."
"If I can go up that mountain without dying, there's nothing I can't do back at home."
"Because of my race, people always expect me to do certain things. Out here, that doesn't matter, and I can do whatever I want."
"One of my biggest challenges is thinking that I can't do it. Out here, I learned to ignore those thoughts and do it anyway."
"Each step, each breath, it is the most memorable time of my life."
"I can't skip anymore, I have to be a better student."