Tom’s Story

You’ve had a unique perspective with BCM starting as a volunteer mentor to joining an SFS climb. Can you tell us about your first experience with BCM on the youth expedition?

“I didn’t know what to expect at all. I had never done an organized backpacking trip with youth… For me, the outdoors aspect came first. I’m very outdoors oriented – I think it’s a powerful agent for people to invoke change in their lives. Participating in a BCM expedition is a cool way to be outside and also feel like you’re making a difference. To be honest, I didn’t really know that much about helping innercity youth prior to this. I knew there was a lot of poverty in our country and that the problem needed to be addressed. I never thought to get involved in a way like this, nor did I know it existed. I think it’s incredible to take people on expeditions who wouldn’t otherwise have an opportunity to do this type of trip. My number one motivating factor to take these kids – who have never been camping before – on an expedition by foot to places most Americans will never be able to go, is to think about the ripple effect of changes instilled in them and the differences they’ll make in their peers’ lives afterward. You don’t know what kind of difference you’re making, but while you’re in the experience you can maximize the impact you have on the kids and hope for the best. Expeditions are about seeing the best of the people – as long as you’re in the moment, you can trust you’re having an impact.”

What’s one of your favorite BCM memories?

“At the fire on the first night, all of the kids were talking about Netflix. They kept saying how there’s nothing else to do and they wished they were back at home watching Netflix. However, every night after, they spent that same time catching salamanders or fishing. Armando pulled in a huge trout and ate it and was so proud of himself. They found an activity to keep them occupied – and it wasn’t Netflix. There is constant stimuli in our modern society and a lot of kids never have the opportunity to turn that off. Not having the option to watch Netflix forced them to find something else – and they loved it!”

Photo by Tom “T-Rex” Miller

This summer you’re embarking on a summit for someone climb of longs peak. Why did you decide to do an SFS climb?

I decided to do a climb to raise money for a cause I believe in. I chose Longs because, living in Boulder, I’m excited to climb a mountain I see every day. I’m also eager for the opportunity to meet other people who also support the mission of BCM and to have a bonding experience over that shared passion.

The most successful fundraisers tap into their unique personalities and skill sets to raise money. How do you plan to fundraise for the climb?

I’ve been playing a lot of guitar lately. So I’ve booked a few gigs over the next few weeks where I’ll be asking for donations for BCM (Boulder residents: see below for show locations). I’m also running in trail races and wearing a BCM hat/jersey to raise awareness for BCM. I ran in a race in Salida in March and have some more races lined up for the spring/summer.

Another fundraising idea that I had is to partner with my dad who is an excellent water color painter. I am sending him photos that I’ve taken (mostly of mountains, some from my previous BCM trip) and am hoping to sell his paintings/my photos, and all of the proceeds go towards BCM. I am in the process of making a gallery website where people can see the pictures and donate and receive a painting or print photograph.

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