Birmingham, AL

Big City Mountaineers empowers young people with the transformative power of nature. Through free, fully equipped, and professionally guided outdoor trips, we offer youth from the Birmingham metro area aged 12 to 18 the chance to connect with nature and enhance their skills, community involvement, and resilience.

Birmingham, AL

Big City Mountaineers empowers young people with the transformative power of nature. Through free, fully equipped, and professionally guided outdoor trips, we offer youth from the Birmingham metro area aged 12 to 18 the chance to connect with nature and enhance their skills, community involvement, and resilience.

Exploring Alabama’s Natural Spaces

BCM is opening a new program region in Birmingham in 2024. In doing so, we will be able to offer a unique set of outdoor experiences for youth in Alabama. A backpacking trip, campout, or hike in the mountains and greenways of Northern Alabama is an awe-inspiring experience from which the memories last a lifetime.

Itineraries

Our programs gradually immerse youth participants into nature in a series of smooth transitions. First, we familiarize them with the front country through day hikes and overnight camping trips. Then, we embark on our flagship weeklong backpacking or canoeing expeditions in the backcountry. This comprehensive approach fosters self-confidence that remains well after the participants depart.

Day Hike Itinerary

Hike Prep

  • Land acknowledgement introduction
  • Positive learning agreement introduction
  • Expedition flag introduction
  • Youth roles introduction
  • Phone free expectations

Activities and Lessons

  • Games 
  • Backcountry skills: map reading basics
  • Backcountry skills: traveling as a group
  • Backcountry skills: essential gear & equipment

End of the Hike

  • Personal reflection & journaling
  • Roundtable reflection
  • Gauge level of interest & ability to participate on the overnight

Frontcountry Overnight Itinerary

Overnight Prep

  • Review youth roles and phone free expectations
  • Outfit participants with necessary clothing and equipment

Activities and Lessons

  • Goal setting
  • Reflection roundtable
  • Backcountry skills
    • Minimizing our impact
    • Tent site selection and setup
    • Sleeping comfortably
    • Cooking
    • Backcountry bathrooms & hygiene
    • Route selection & considerations
    • Animal encounters
    • Lost & alone

End of Overnight

  • Final reflection
  • Discuss expedition dates, location, and requirements
  • Complete end of program feedback form

Weeklong Backcountry Expedition Itinerary

Expedition Prep

  • Review youth roles, phone free expectations, and positive learning agreement
  • Duffle shuffle: What to bring and what to leave behind
  • Self-care in the backcountry: how folks are feeling and what they need from the group
  • Backcountry skills:
    • How to pack a pack
    • Review lost & alone and backcountry hygiene lessons

Activities and Lessons

  • Backcountry skills:
    • Recognizing hotspots & treating blisters
    • Treating water and staying hydrated
    • Campsite boundaries
  • Challenge day
  • Create an expedition flag
  • Daily reflection roundtables
  • Celebration dinner

End of Expedition

  • Assist with end of program gear clean up and organizing
  • Learn about participant alumni opportunities
  • Complete end of program feedback and survey

Meet Our Partners

We collaborate with community-based youth development agencies, recreation centers, and schools to identify young individuals who would benefit most from our program. By doing so, we ensure that our program reaches those who may not have had the opportunity to connect with camps and outdoor activities otherwise.

These partnerships are crucial in developing our curriculum, preparing students for their experience, and ensuring that the valuable lessons learned during our expeditions continue to positively impact the participants’ homes, schools, and communities.

Discover how we work with youth agencies.

Girls Inc of Central Alabama

In partnership with schools and at Girls Inc. centers, we focus on the development of the whole girl. She learns to value herself, take risks, and discover and develop her inherent strengths. The combination of long-lasting mentoring relationships, a pro-girl environment, and research-based programming equips girls to navigate gender, economic, and social barriers, and grow up healthy, educated, and independent. Informed by girls and their families, we also advocate for legislation and policies to increase opportunities and rights for all girls.

YouthServe

YouthServe origins date back to the mid-1990s in Birmingham with two organizations, First Look and Birmingham Youth Service Corps, who merged to become YouthServe in 2004.  Since then, it has become the premier organization for diverse groups of youth to experience civic engagement together and express community leadership in the here and now.

Breakthrough Birmingham

Breakthrough Birmingham works with highly motivated, traditionally under-represented students in Birmingham and Talladega to achieve post-secondary success by bridging summer learning loss and through year-round opportunities for relationships, growth, and exposure. We source high-impact undergraduate students from both within the state of Alabama and across the country. We train them to teach and mentor highly motivated middle and high school students, supporting pathways to post-secondary success. We coach new classroom teachers, ensuring holistic career sustainability that positively affects students’ trajectories.

Looking to Support?

Looking to Partner?

Margaret Cartner

Birmingham Director

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