Frequently asked questions

Youth Agencies

About the program

A BCM experience combines the innate teaching ability of the natural world, caring adults volunteers, and your existing relationship to provide a potentially impactful experience for students. By providing caring adults with diverse life experiences in partnership with existing youth development organizations, our programs  act as a catalyst to positively impact the development of personal, social and community values in the students you already serve. Our partners regularly say that they can accomplish more with one of their students over a week in the wilderness than they can over six months in a school gym.

“Life is like these hills. You hit your high point and your low but you look into yourself to draw strength and carry on. If I ever hit another really low point in my life I can draw on my confidence to bring myself up again.”

Natalie, BCM Student

BCM measures program effectiveness utilizing the 40 Developmental Assets Profile. 

Our greatest impact is in three internal asset categories: 

  • Positive Values – Integrity, honesty, responsibility, and avoiding alcohol, tobacco, and drugs 
  • Social Competencies – Decision-making, conflict resolution, building friendships, and avoiding negative peer pressures 
  • Positive Identity – Self-esteem, purpose and positive view 


These internal asset categories are associated with positive youth development like succeeding in school, maintaining good health, valuing diversity, and avoiding risk behaviors.

Since BCM covers the majority of the cost and the logistics/equipment, the main youth agency commitment is staff time. Besides the weeklong expedition itself, there is a day of training and two pre-trip activities. It can take considerable time to recruit students, and to follow up with them regarding paperwork and to organize outings. 

BCM can support student recruitment and provide parent information sessions. BCM handles all logistics for the expedition, including hiring a paid instructor, permits, food, and recruitment and training of all volunteers.

Big City Mountaineers targets youth organizations who serve students from economically or socially depressed areas who, without programs like ours, would not be introduced to the backcountry. The specific type of organization (after-school program, foster care, group home, educational institution, etc.) is not as important to BCM as many other factors. These factors include: geographical location; profile of the students served by the agency; ability of the youth program to provide an appropriate staff member to attend the trip; enthusiasm and follow-through by the organization to meet deadlines and participate in BCM training; ability of the organization to monetarily contribute to the cost of the trip.

Program Fees*

Big City Mountaineers does the entirety of the fundraising for our programs.We request a small agency fee of $150.00 from your agency as a contribution toward sharing costs for each expedition.  This fee directly helps BCM stretch our funds to get as many students as possible into the outdoors. Your contribution helps BCM offset the costs to have a youth agency leader on the trip. It helps pay for items such as their training, handbook, food, gas, campground fees, permit fees, and insurance premiums

*It is incredibly important to BCM that cost does not prevent a youth agency from participation in our program. In order for all youth agencies to have the option to participate BCM can provide fundraising resources and support to help cover costs. 

Vehicle Fees

Youth agencies must provide a vehicle to transport 10 participants and a significant amount of gear. The vehicle must equate to a 15 passenger van (2 large SUVs or minivans work as an alternative). BCM can provide a 15 passenger van or equivalent for $800. If you need BCM to provide a smaller supplemental vehicle you will be invoiced for the rental cost.

BCM will cover the cost of gas both for youth agency vehicles and for rentals.

Directly contact the Program Manager in your region! We’ll then plan to meet and discuss how we can best partner with each other. You can find Regional Program Manager Contact Information here. 

Program Volunteers

Our adult volunteers are dedicated individuals who have a vested interest in supporting students on their backcountry experience.. Each member of the team is evaluated and assigned to a trip where their particular skills will be best utilized and complemented by the other volunteers. We host an all-day training focused specifically on facilitation skills for our adult volunteers and Agency staff.

Volunteer Positions Descriptions can be found here

After completing a comprehensive questionnaire and interview process, all adult volunteers are specifically chosen for their combination of student and outdoor skills. We also conduct criminal background checks with all of our volunteers.

We believe in the power of community building. Our one-on-one format seeks to provide as much personal interaction between adults and students as possible so that true community bonds can be forged across an expedition.


First and foremost: Students that have the desire and excitement to participate in a backcountry experience. The uniqueness of our program is our equal ratio of students to adults. The youth organization provides either five to six students and one adult staff member, while BCM provides one instructor and two or three additional adult volunteers. Students  chosen for the BCM trip are typically between the ages of 13 and 18, and ages vary by about 2 years in a given group. Older or younger students will participate on a case-by-case basis. Adults typically range in age from 21 to 65.

Yes, one Agency staff is required to participate. BCM has found that having an adult who the students know, respect, and can look to for guidance, particularly in the first couple of days of the trip, is one of the greatest factors in the success of the experience. The Agency Member is vital in establishing trust and buy-in from the students. Having a staff member on the trip also allows for continued teaching and reinforcement of the lessons learned on the trail once students return to their communities. 

Five students can be sent on expedition, talk to your Regional Program Manager if you’d like to bring more than five students.

The students are identified by the staff of the participating organization as meeting the criteria of BCM. These criteria are explained in detail in the Youth Organization Agreement, but include the students being: between the ages of 13 and 18; students should be motivated and excited to participate on the expedition; deserving of such an opportunity by showing responsibility and respect for themselves and others; unable to participate in similar activities on their own; free from health problems that would complicate their participation in rigorous outdoor activities; and emotionally, behaviorally and psychologically stable enough not to pose a threat to themselves or others while on the trip. Beyond these, BCM entrusts the youth agency to recruit and choose participants for the expedition in whatever way they feel is best for their agency and community.

Generally, no. We have seen incredible outcomes as groups of students and adults come together as a community of their identified gender. We work closely with agencies to place students where they are most comfortable and will make exceptions to run co-ed trips when it best serves the students.

Trip Logistics

No. BCM will supply all the specialized equipment and clothing for the student and youth agency staff. A complete packing list is provided in the application packet, but we just ask students to bring things they’d already have at home (shirts, shorts, underwear, etc.).

While our routes are chosen with beginners in mind, the BCM experiences are physically and emotionally challenging for both students and adults. Each day provides new situations and obstacles ranging from weather to elevation, to being away from everything familiar, including cell-phones. BCM activities are designed to challenge pre-conceived limits and provide participants with opportunities to achieve success beyond what they thought they were capable of.

Yes. Our goal is to instill critical life skills, not just go on a recreational trip. Curriculum components include group contracts and goal setting, necessary backcountry lessons, teambuilding initiatives, structured individual and group reflection time, unstructured time for play, fishing, and exploration, and closing awards and celebration. (To name a few!)

BCM puts emotional and physical safety of participants as our highest priority. With our 1:1 ratio of adults to teens, our trips are designed to afford high levels of supervision.  BCM instructors are experienced outdoors people who have demonstrated the ability to appropriately manage risks inherent in wilderness activities, they are also Wilderness First Responders (at minimum) and have a CPR certification.  24-hour emergency support is provided to every trip and each adult team is equipped in advance with information about emergency procedures and resources for their particular trip area.  Still, because BCM trips take place in remote settings, immediate communication and consultation with BCM administrative and program staff is not always possible.  In order to provide for the physical and emotional well-being of trip participants, instructors are prepared to make decisions affecting all aspects of their trips including: itinerary and/or route changes, behavior management, transportation, etc.  Special care is taken to ensure that every trip participant receives appropriate clothing, equipment, and training to allow them to live and learn safely in the outdoors.


Qualifications & Expectations

Volunteers fill out a questionnaire about their interests in volunteering positions as well as their experience in order to best place them with a fitting role, whether that be representing BCM at events, doing pro-bono marketing work, or helping organize gear. After doing this, volunteers are ready to serve at non-program events. In order to support students directly on programs there are a few more steps to take, including a brief interview process, a criminal background check and a Volunteer Training (typically a full day commitment in the spring). 

To start the process to becoming a volunteer, please fill out this form

Our adult volunteers are dedicated individuals who have a vested interest in supporting students. In selecting volunteers to go on particular programs, the BCM team works to build adult teams who have diverse skill sets that will complement one another. For example, a well-rounded adult team will have folks who have similar identities and lived experiences as the students on the trip, folks who have experience with backpacking and risk management in the backcountry and folks who have experience engaging and facilitating activities with youth. Ideally, each team-member will bring a wide background of experiences that will contribute to the group as a whole. 

There are typically four – five adult members on each BCM expedition team outlined below: 

  • Instructor – There will be one Instructor who is hired by BCM to lead your group through the backcountry. The Instructors have at least a Wilderness First Responder and CPR medical certifications as well as backcountry experience leading trips with youth. 
  • Partner Agency Staff – At least one staff member from our partner agency will typically be on each trip. They have good relationships with the youth and can help bring cohesion to the group. 
  • Volunteer Mentors – One to three additional adult mentors will be on the trip. They come from a variety of backgrounds and are generally from the local area where are partners are located. We do our best to match skill sets on each trip to make sure that there is a variety of expertise spread across the entire team. 

Will I get to meet the adults on the expedition prior to the trip? 

There are several opportunities to meet your team members prior to the trip. This can occur at training, during pre-expedition activities, during the pre-expedition conference call and/or pre-expedition meeting. Team Members’ names and contact information will be shared prior to the trip so you can meet or talk when it is convenient for all of you. It is very important that the adults in your group meet prior to the expedition to go over expectations. Meeting in person is ideal, but a conference call can also work. 

Since our volunteer positions are diverse in nature, we do not require a certain set of experiences to become a Volunteer with BCM. We do ask that our Volunteers be committed to our mission and have similar personal values. 

For more detailed questions related to qualifications and expectations of specific volunteer positions, please reference the Volunteer Positions Descriptions page

There are typically 3-5 adult members on each BCM expedition team outlined below: 

  • Instructor – There will be one Instructor who is hired by BCM to lead your group through the backcountry. The Instructors have at least a Wilderness First Responder and CPR medical certifications as well as backcountry experience leading trips with youth. 
  • Partner Agency Staff – At least one staff member from our partner agency will typically be on each trip. They have good relationships with the youth and can help bring cohesion to the group. 
  • Volunteers – One to three additional adult volunteers will be on the trip. They come from a variety of backgrounds and are generally from the local area where are partners are located. We do our best to match skill sets on each trip to make sure that there is a variety of expertise spread across the entire team.

BCM has four opportunities for training: 

1) An New Volunteer Information session that will orient you to our programs.  

2) A training in each of our regions, required for all new volunteers and highly recommended for returning volunteers. 

3) Virtual meeting and/or in-person meeting with your instructor and other adult participants to talk about the upcoming trip and help answer questions.  

4) We also expect all volunteers to review our handbook (provided at training) on their own. The handbook provides detailed information on our program.

There are several opportunities to meet your team members prior to the trip. This can occur at training, during pre-expedition activities, during the pre-expedition conference call and/or pre-expedition meeting. Team Members’ names and contact information will be shared prior to the trip so you can meet or talk when it is convenient for all of you. It is very important that the adults in your group meet prior to the expedition to go over expectations. Meeting in person is ideal, but a virtual meeting also works. 

Prior to the backcountry Expedition, BCM will facilitate one or two Day Trips and a 2-3 day Overnight Camp before. It would be ideal for volunteers going on the Expedition to attend at least one of these events so that they can start getting to know the students, other adults and Instructor prior to spending a week in the backcountry with them.

BCM works with youth development organizations who serve young people aged 8-18 from communities that have not been economically invested in the same way as other, wealthier, communities have been.  Due to this under-investment in their community, these students may not have access to the financial resources it takes to make trips into the backcountry. Staff from the organization that BCM partners with selects students who they believe could benefit from a BCM experience.  Types of youth organizations that BCM partners with include  non-profit organization, residential placement facility, after-school program, foster care, refugee resettlement program, or educational institution. In addition, the youth organization is required to send a staff member from their organization on your trip to help with the teens. 

Engaging youth from disinvested communities through our backcountry  experiences is typically very rewarding, but it can also have a variety of challenges. Sometimes volunteers head into the experience with a set of expectations and later realize the experience doesn’t match up. This disconnect can cause stress and challenges as they reconcile the gap between their expectations and the actual experience. It can also make it difficult for Volunteers to fully support the student  participants and the instructor. We hope that by sharing some of the challenges you might encounter it will help you make an informed decision prior to committing to a trip and in turn be in the best position possible to serve the youth and your adult team. Click here to review challenges you might encounter. 


Volunteers pay a $125 fee that will help cover trip costs such as food, gas, permit fees, park entrance fees, consumable gear like fuel and sunscreen, parking passes, handbook, training, campground fees, etc. BCM is very grateful for your commitment to the youth we serve and this cost sharing fee helps BCM stretch our funds to get as many youth as possible on expeditions. If you would like to fundraise to cover your fee you will have an opportunity to do so through our Change A Life Campaign. If you have additional questions please contact the Regional Program Manager in your area. 

You are responsible for paying your own travel expenses to and from the trip departure city. BCM will not pay for plane tickets, hotel, gas, food, etc. prior to the start day of your trip. The volunteer fee will cover transportation costs to the trailhead from your meeting point. Your volunteer-related travel expenses may be tax-deductible. 

Trip Logistics

For backpacking trips BCM delivers its program in four major metropolitan areas. We partner with organizations from Birmingham, Boston, Denver, Minneapolis, the San Francisco Bay Area, and Seattle. We run backpacking programs in wilderness areas near these metro regions.  

For our canoe trips we use the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness in Northern Minnesota with youth and volunteers from Minneapolis. 

For specific details on wilderness locations contact the Regional Program Manager in your area. 

The focus of the BCM experience is a seven-day backpacking or eight-day canoeing trip that take place in the months of June, July, or August. We also have single day and overnight programs that occur prior to and during the main expedition season. These events are designed as pre-trip outings to introduce volunteers and teens to one another and prepare them for their wilderness expedition. After the main season is finished we organize post-trip activities to reunite the same teens and adults from the summer trip and help them draw meaning from their backcountry experience. These occur during August and September. 


Although each BCM trip is unique, they all follow roughly the same itinerary. Each trip has a basic set timeline and system that we use as a guide while in the field. 

Summit for Someone

About the program
  • Adventure fundraisers combine two main elements: a physical outdoor objective with a fundraising commitment to help fund Big City Mountaineers’s youth programs.
  • The Summit for Someone program offers both scheduled, professionally-guided adventures as well as the opportunity to design custom adventure campaigns.
  • Summit for Someone is part of the fundraising arm of Big City Mountaineers. All funds raised through Summit for Someone challenges provide youth from disinvested communities with access to meaningful experiences outdoors.
  • BCM partners with youth development agencies based in communities across the country, including:
    • Denver, CO
    • San Francisco, CA
    • Portland, OR
    • Seattle, WA
    • Minneapolis/St. Paul, MN
    • Miami, FL
    • Boston, MA
  • Each of our scheduled adventures requires an above-average level of physical fitness, though no particular technical skills or experience. Please contact the Summit for Someone program manager to learn more about key considerations for each trip.
  • You are not required to have any prior technical skills (i.e. rock climbing, ice axe usage, etc.) on SFS trips unless otherwise noted. Skills training days are included as necessary on all trip itineraries.
  • Your physical fitness skills will ultimately be gauged by our professional guide partners during your trip with Summit for Someone. In the event that you pose a risk to yourself or other participants, our guides reserve the right to intervene and reassess your participation in the event. Adequate training and preparation for your SFS adventure are your responsibility and a part of participating in this experience.

No, participants of BCM’s youth programs do not participate in SFS adventures. When you join an SFS team, you will have a direct impact on BCM’s ability to plan and deliver these high-quality programs to youth, however. We highly encourage you to familiarize yourself with Big City Mountaineers‘ youth program model and get inspired by stories of our youth expeditions, which you’ll be helping to make possible.

A custom challenge takes the model of a traditional Summit for Someone adventure and allows you to make it your own. You choose your adventure objective; you set the fundraising goal; and you determine the timeline for making it happen.

Big City Mountaineers can provide support behind the scenes to help you bring your campaign to life, including:

  • An online fundraising campaign platform
  • BCM storytelling assets, such as photos, videos, and quotes
  • Guidance around fundraising tactics and opportunities
  • Amplification of your efforts via BCM communications channels

Custom challenges are an ideal way to rally a group of people around a common, meaningful cause. Please contact the SFS program manager to discuss your idea!

Summit for Someone adventures take time and resources to make possible, much like a gala or other fundraising party that another nonprofit might hold. As such, we rely on your follow-through and participation to ensure the success of this program and, by extension, our youth programs.

  • We do not allow outright cancellations once you have registered for an SFS adventure. We will help you to understand what is involved with your registration – from both a fundraising and a physical training stand point – and will count on you to see your challenge through to completion.
  • Postponing your SFS participation because of an injury, illness, or unique personal situation will be considered on a case-by-case basis. You must contact the SFS program manager immediately to discuss this situation should it occur.
    • For a worthy reason, we will allow registered SFS participants to roll their registration and any fundraising dollars over to a trip the following year.

Yes, you will have the opportunity to sign up with your friends or family members. Registration for each trip is on a first-come first-served basis, so sign up early if you are concerned about having space for both you and your friends.

You may also set up your own custom challenge with a group of friends or colleagues. We are always happy to discuss your ideas for a custom adventure fundraising campaign and can help connect you with key resources to plan it in detail. It is important that every member of your group take ownership of both the training and fundraising aspects of their SFS experience.

There is a $150 required donation to our youth program to register for a trip with SFS. This donation serves to officially reserve your place on the team you have joined, and signals your commitment to complete the adventure fundraising challenge in full.

SFS participants are responsible for the full fundraising commitment for their trip, as well as other costs and incidentals that make the trip possible. This includes transportation, lodging, personal gear, and meals that are not covered by your guide service or by BCM. Details for each specific adventure are available; contact the SFS manager for more information as needed.

International participants in the Summit for Someone program are welcome and encouraged to join! Please be sure to consider travel costs and other important logistics associated with traveling to the US for any Summit for Someone trip.


Fundraising commitment amounts vary by trip, typically ranging from $2500 to $4000. Please see the Summit for Someone page or contact the SFS manager for more information about each trip and its associated fundraising commitment.

  • All donations made by others to your campaign are 100% tax deductible. We automatically provide donation receipts that may be retained for such purposes.
  • If we are providing a guide, then part of your donation may be tax deductible, depending on the value of the service provided to you and the amount of your donation.  To be consistent with IRS requirements, we advise participants that the amount of the contribution deductible for federal tax purposes is limited to the excess over the value of goods and services received by the donor. We can provide a good-faith estimate of the value of goods and services received in exchange for your donation, if needed.  For more information, see  IRS Publication 1771.

The fundraising commitment amounts vary due to the different cost and estimated value of each trip. Some are two days, some are four days, etc. Some require more gear and equipment than others. 

You are required to raise 100% of your fundraising commitment prior to participating in your trip. You may meet the commitment by seeking donations or by paying some or all of it yourself. The final day to hit your goal is one month prior to the stated start date for your trip. (Ex. If your trip is set to start on July 21, you must hit the 100% mark on your fundraising by June 21)

You can find a list of fundraising resources on the “Fundraising + Training” page of this website. The various links there will direct you to a series of folders housed on a Google Drive and includes tips and best practices that SFS participants have implemented over the years. As always, our Summit for Someone Program Manager is just a phone call (720-408-4569) or email away for immediate help and suggestions.

First, make sure you ask everyone in your network for help! Find ways to get the link to your personal Classy campaign page to that network of people so that they can contribute directly.

Donations can also be submitted to BCM by check or money order. BCM staff will credit your Classy campaign properly once those donations have been accounted for. Checks should be made out to “Big City Mountaineers”; be sure to have “SFS” and your name included on the memo line for easier tracking.

Your supporters will receive a tax-deductible receipt with their gift whether they make it on your donation page or send in a check.

Absolutely! This is a great way to make progress toward your fundraising commitment. Just like when sending in a personal check, please be sure that your company includes your name and the note “SFS” on a matching donation check. It can be mailed directly to the BCM office: 710 10th St. #120, Golden, CO 80401

Except in special circumstances, all fundraising commitments must be met no later than one month before your trip begins. Occasionally, we will grant participants a 30-day post-trip grace period to complete their fundraising. You must get approval from the SFS program manager at least 30 days prior to the start of your trip if you’d like to utilize this option, otherwise 100% of your fundraising commitment is expected one month before your trip begins.

Our online fundraising platform, Classy, makes it easy to track donations to your campaign. You will also receive an email every time a donation is made to your climb with the donation amount and donor’s contact information.

If you ever have questions or concerns about donations, please don’t hesitate to contact the Summit for Someone manager.

Summit Logistics

All SFS scheduled adventures are led by certified professional guide services who hold use permits with land management agencies. Learn about the guide services SFS is partnering with on the “Guide Partners” page of this website.

We choose our guide partners through careful evaluation. Our guide partners are some of the best in the industry with long histories of guiding on their respective mountains or terrain.

The gear that you will need on an SFS trip varies depending on the time of year you are going and the particular adventure you are taking on. Please check with the Summit for Someone program manager for gear lists.

It is the responsibility of each participant to make sure they are properly outfitted for their trip. Registered SFS participants can view required gear lists well in advance of the trip, along with other important trip details and paperwork.

Many guide services will provide most if not all of the technical gear you will need for your trip. We are also able to offer registered SFS participants a special pro deal on technical climbing gear through CAMP!

Nearly all of our guide partners are able to provide technical gear for you either to rent or borrow for free. If you are interested in gear rentals, please check with your respective guide service a minimum of 30 days in advance of your trip date for gear pricing and/or reservations. Double check trip-specific gear lists as you make plans to purchase or rent equipment.

Almost all guide services require participants to provide their own personal items, including clothing layers. Start acquiring gear early so that you have time to shop around for deals – there are many sites that offer deep discounts throughout the year on various products!

Almost all SFS trips include overnight accommodations of some kind DURING your trip. Very few offer accommodations for nights prior to or after your trip ends. Be sure to research options near the meet-up location for your trip so that you are prepared and able to enjoy it to the fullest.

All travel arrangements are the responsibility of the SFS participant, with the exception of any transportation provided at the discretion of your guide service. BCM will not make any accommodation or travel arrangements, nor will it be responsible for costs and liability involved.

It is recommended that you arrive at least one day prior to your trip and depart one day post-trip in order to account for any unforeseen delays or changes to your trip itinerary. Please contact the Summit for Someone program manager with any questions about travel and accommodations for your trip, as BCM can make suggestions that may be helpful.

Summiting is never guaranteed due to many different factors which may include, but are not limited to: adverse weather conditions, climber health and safety, snow/ice conditions, experience and skill level of group, etc. Each guide service, however, will do their best to provide every opportunity for the team, and/or individuals within a team, to summit.

The group sizes vary by trip, but a typical size is 6-9 participants. The SFS program manager will provide opportunities for team members to connect with each other well before the trip start date. Many team members choose to arrange travel and accommodations together, an option that is both cost-effective and fun.

Additionally, every member of the team will be invited – and strongly encouraged – to be part of a pre-trip Q&A phone call with a representative from your guide company a few months before the trip.

While each Summit for Someone adventure is meant to be accessible to people with a wide range of experience, it is crucial to understand that an above-average fitness level is necessary on all SFS trips. Having or developing a very strong baseline of strength and endurance will be critical to your ability to enjoy and be safe on your trip. It will also impact the experience of your team and opportunity to reach the summit.

Start your training early and keep at it consistently. Plan to hike long distances while gaining notable elevation in the months leading up to your trip. Carrying weight of 25-40 pounds is ideal. Cross-train for cardiovascular fitness as much as possible. 

You can find basic training resources here. BCM strongly encourages you to consult your doctor when embarking on any new fitness regimen and to be safe above all else!

90 days prior to each scheduled adventure, Big City Mountaineers reserves the right to ask SFS participants to move to another trip of their choice that also has availability if the trip that they are registered for has 2 or fewer spots filled. BCM will reimburse participants non-refundable or transfer costs incurred as a result of airline and/or hotel reservations. All reimbursement requests must be submitted in writing by the participant to BCM and participant must provide proof of their incurred costs. If the participant declines, they have the option to cancel their participation.

Youth Participants

Big City Mountaineers students participate in our programs for a variety of reasons – wanting to experience independence, go places they have never been, or get an experience not everyone gets. What it boils down to is, all students will be able to say “I did something that I never thought I could do!” 

“Portaging (carrying a canoe) has been really hard, but it’s been really emotionally good. I thought that this would be good for me to do. It’s something that not a lot of people get a chance to do.” Franchesca, BCM Canoe Trip Participant



NoThe chances of seeing any large animal is small as you will be travelling in a large group that will make a lot of noise, scaring away most animals. From the first day of your trip, your instructor will be teaching you all the skills you need to know to make sure to keep you safe. 

“One thing that I was nervous about was animals and bugs. […] We saw some animals, some cows, but, that’s about it. A lot of mosquitos, though, so, wear your bug spray.” –Nae, College Track Program


It’s important to get the most out of your week in the woods to not be distracted by outside influences. You will hardly miss it. The company of the other adults and students on your trip will keep you connected and the beautiful views and fun games will be plenty of entertainment. Don’t worry, we will be sure to take pictures and share them with you so you can always remember your incredible expedition.  

“I learned this week that you don’t need anything to have fun. Just being with your friends and with people who care about you and are supportive, you just have the best time in the world. It’s more memorable that way as well.”

Sara, College Track Program


Big City Mountaineers provides all the food you will need for your week in the wilderness. We provide three meals and plenty of snacks for each day, along with some special snacks. We promise you will never be hungry on your BCM Expedition. 

“Everyone works together and we all eat together and work together to cook the meal. It’s actually really good. It’s kind of the best days of the day to eat lunch or dinner. So, if you’re scared you’ll run out of food, you won’t. There’s a lot. But, you should be eating because the pack gets lighter”

Samara, College Track Program

Overwhelmingly, our students say that being with their peers and caring adult volunteers means they don’t get homesick, since they know they are in a community of people who care about them. Spending this time on your own and with peers will help you feel more mature, capable, and confident. After your week away, your family and friends will see the growth in you and be excited to hear your stories. 

“Having everyone there with me made me not feel homesick, so that worked well.”

Betzabe, The New American School

You will learn how to do your business in the woods from our knowledgeable instructors. With the support of our staff you’ll learn steps to use the bathroom, stay clean, and stay safe while spending time in the wilderness. To give you a bit of a preview, there are 7 ‘D’s to know about when pooping in the woods: 

1) Desire – You might be on a different schedule then you’re used to, so just listen to your body. 

2) Distance – You should always be 100 feet from other people, trails, or water, to make sure you’re being sanitary. 

3) Dig – You will dig a hole at least 6 inches deep to make sure you can keep your poo underground. 

4) Do – You know how to do this step. 

5) Deal – Clean yourself up, but make sure not to bury toilet paper. You will be carrying that out. 

6) Disguise – Use your dirt from your hole to cover it up. 

7) Disinfect – Hand sanitize or wash your hands with biodegradable soap. 

Big City Mountaineers will provide you with all the gear you will need for your trip, including tents, sleeping gear, clothing, and footwear.  

Your instructors is a professionals at taking people into wilderness settings. All of our instructors have a ton of experience working with teens and are certified Wilderness First Responders or EMTs, which means they are trained in dealing with medical issues in the wilderness. BCM instructors come from a variety of life backgrounds and have many different skills, but all of them are excited to spend a week in the wilderness with you. 

Our mentors are adults from your city who usually love backpacking or canoeing and are excited to get to know you. They’ll be able to teach you some cool skills, but are excited to have you tell them about your life and experiences.

All our expeditions go to National Parks or National Forests nearby your city. We choose areas for their natural beauty and for the challenge they will offer in travelling through. Ask your agency staff and they will have more information. Also, a BCM staff member will have more information when they come and present at your organization.  

We work hard to make sure all students who would be safe while travelling in the field can come. We will work with your agency staff to determine if we can accommodate your needs, and will work hard to find ways to make you safe and comfortable on trail. 

Don’t see your question answered above?

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