Essential Eligibility Criteria

Big City Mountaineers (BCM) provides transformative experiences through connections to nature that strengthen life skills and build community for youth from disinvested communities.

We accomplish this by partnering with youth agency partners to provide a series of outdoor programs for youth between the ages of 12 and 18 that range in length from one day to seven days and take place in outdoor settings within or near our hub cities of Birmingham AL, Boston MA, Denver CO, Minneapolis MN, the San Francisco Bay Area CA, and Seattle, WA as well as remote backcountry destinations managed by state or federal agencies. Our backcountry course areas are often more than an hour away from definitive medical care, may lack reliable cell phone coverage*, and in the event of an emergency are often only accessible by foot, boat, off road vehicles, helicopter, or plane.

BCM works closely with our youth agency partners to support participants’ individual needs and learning styles while in the field. We also acknowledge that there may be occasions when an interested individual’s abilities, medical or mental health history, or required support exceeds what BCM and the trip leader(s) can provide**.

BCM works closely with our youth agency partners to support participants’ individual needs and learning styles while in the field. We also acknowledge that there may be occasions when an interested individual’s abilities, medical or mental health history, or required support exceeds what BCM and the trip leader(s) can provide**.

BCM’s essential eligibility criteria (EEC) defines the required skills and abilities necessary to participate on any BCM program (day trips, overnight campouts, and expeditions).

The EEC requires all participants (youth and adults) must be able to:

  • Understand verbal and visual instructions individually and in a group setting, and follow such instructions when directly supervised or not, particularly in conditions that may be considered stressful and challenging, both mentally and physically
  • Effectively communicate with others when experiencing personal distress, injury or need for assistance
  • Communicate to others any hazards and dangers that they perceive
  • Contribute to a safe social and learning environment as outlined by our positive learning agreement and youth agency partner’s rules and expectations
  • Refrain from the use of alcohol, tobacco, controlled substances, and any misuse of prescription or over the counter drugs. If using prescription drugs, able to follow correct dosage and usage and keep them in good condition with or without instructor assistance
  • Comprehend explained hazards and safety concerns, and adhere to safety policies and procedures even when directly supervised or not
  • Remain alert and focused for several hours at a time while traveling through open water, remote, and other natural outdoor terrain
  • Withstand periods of inclement weather (such as wind or rain) and the environmental factors associated with the activity and the time of year for several hours at a time. For example, temperatures above 80 degrees Fahrenheit or hotter during summer activities or variable water temperatures during paddling activities
  • Stay properly hydrated and nourished, by day or night, and learn skills for self-care, including proper hygiene and use of clothing and equipment
  • Maintain self-care in an environment where allergen exposure and cross-contamination may occur
  • Use public bathrooms, campground bathrooms or outdoor toilets
  • When participating in a day paddling activity:
    • Wear a Personal Flotation Device (PFD or “life jacket”) correctly, maintain a face-up position in water while wearing a PFD, and make progress through the water to shore or a second canoe
    • Re-enter a canoe from the water with minimal assistance from others
    • Follow instructions immediately upon sudden immersion into cold water, whether the instructions have already been taught or are communicated in the moment
    • Sit or kneel in a canoe and maintain stability

On backpacking expeditions all participants (youth and adults) must be able to:

  • Carry a backpack weighing approximately one-third of body weight or up to 40-50 pounds, that will include personal clothing, group food, and group equipment
  • Travel for consecutive days wearing a loaded backpack over steep and uneven terrain, on and off trail, for over six hours, up to eight miles and an elevation gain or loss of over 1,500 feet, including sections of scrambling (one or both hands needed), and crossing rivers and streams that do not have bridges
  • Use an outdoor toilet or no toilet at all (which requires the ability to dig a 6 inch hole and squat over it with or without assistance)
  • Sleep on the ground or on a foam sleeping pad in a tent for up to 6 consecutive nights without access to external power
  • Spend up to 7 consecutive days living and working in a group environment with limited opportunities for individual time
  • Spend up to 7 consecutive days without access to a personal cell phone or communicating with individuals outside of the group*

On canoeing expeditions all participants (youth and adults) must be able to:

  • Control a paddle and pull it through the water to steer and move the canoe forward
  • Help lift and/ or carry a 75-pound canoe with another person on or off a trail
  • Travel over uneven terrain on and off trail with our without a pack that will include personal clothing, group food, and group equipment
  • Use an outdoor toilet or no toilet at all (which requires the ability to dig a 6 inch hole and squat over it with or without assistance)
  • Sleep on the ground or on a foam sleeping pad in a tent for up to 6 consecutive nights without access to external power
  • Spend up to 7 consecutive days living and working in a group environment with limited opportunities for individual time
  • Spend up to 7 consecutive days without access to a personal cell phone or communicating with individuals outside of the group*

*All BCM programs carry communication devices that allow the group to communicate in the event of an emergency, request logistical support, or consult with medical providers as necessary

**If you are unsure whether participating on a BCM program is appropriate for you or a youth participant in your program contact our main office: info@bigcitymountaineers.org

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