A note from BCM Board President (Teddy’s Story)

Dear Friends and Supporters of Big City Mountaineers,

Much like parenting my two boys, 2017 was both a challenging and rewarding year for BCM.  As we moved into the late spring we were set up for a full and exciting program season, including taking advantage of the amazing property that was donated to us in Tower, Minnesota. Just days before youth were to arrive, a massive electrical storm sparked a devastating fire and burned two of our buildings to the ground.  While we were not able to use the property as we wanted, thanks to the tireless efforts of our staff in Colorado and Minnesota, and the support of the Boundary Waters community, we were able to quickly pivot and still provide outstanding programming for Midwest youth. Throughout the country, 550 amazing adult volunteers worked with our incredible staff to help 721 youth participate in almost 50 wilderness mentoring experiences, in total spending almost 1,900 nights under the stars.  

One of the youth who experienced the power of BCM’s programs was Teddy, a 16-year-old.  Teddy comes from a single-parent home where he had to help his parent out of an abusive relationship.  For the first time he experienced the tranquility of the Boundary Waters, canoeing, and trying his hand at fishing.  I must say trying, since, unfortunately, Teddy was not that successful. His first day out, Teddy hooked a fish, and was so excited he got his line tangled with four others.  Many hours were spent laughing and untangling lines, but there was no fish for dinner that night. The next day, Teddy tried helping another fisherman by grabbing a fish that was landed.  Again, poor Teddy was not able to hold on and the fish splashed back into the lake. By the third day Teddy was “helping” from afar, with a smile on his face and encouraging words for the others.


Teddy told his mom that his trip was the most amazing experience of his life, specifically because of the relationship he developed with one of the mentors, Devon.  Teddy had never played cards before the trip, but Devon took him under his wing. They had many conversations while Devon taught Teddy to play. At the end of the trip Devon gave Teddy his cribbage board, and stopped at a drugstore to pick up a deck of cards so Teddy could continue playing.  On the drive home Teddy said he’d never felt so appreciated in his life. We all believe in the power of nature, but it is those moments with caring mentors that will stick with our students (and me) forever.

Today I’m asking you to help Teddy and countless other kids experience the BCM program.  A few ways you can support us:

After another year serving as Board president, with my boys a bit bigger and my wife and I just a bit more tired, I am proud to look back over what we were able to accomplish in 2017 with your help. I’m looking forward to the incredible work we can do to help under-resourced youth in 2018. 

With gratitude,

Ben Gipson 

Board Chairman, Big City Mountaineers

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