Today's Lesson: People Power
Water Bottles

Expedition Survival Tip

This may come as a bit of a surprise, but there are no showers in the Great Outdoors. Our advice: when possible stay upwind of others.

Mission and History

The mission of Big City Mountaineers is to instill critical life skills in under resourced urban youth through transformative wilderness mentoring experiences.

We combine elements of mentoring programs with an outdoor wilderness expedition designed specifically for under-resourced urban youth.  The core BCM program is a weeklong expedition at the center of which is a five-day wilderness backpacking or canoe expedition in which adults and teens work together.

BCM Expeditions:

  • Provide wilderness opportunities to under-resourced urban teens age 13 to 18
  • Cultivate relationships between teens and caring adult mentors
  • Offer a unique 1-to-1 ratio of adults to teens
  • Improve teen self-awareness and personal responsibility
  • Promote group development and effective communication
  • Celebrate gender differences by offering only single gender expeditions
  • Partner with existing youth development agencies to better address the ongoing needs of under-resourced youth.
  • Deliver safe wilderness expeditions led by professional field instructors


BCM has been serving urban teens since 1989. The vision of our founder, Jim Kern, to serve under-resourced teens, has grown manyfold since Jim took the first teen on a hiking trip to Montana 28 years ago.

Since its inception, BCM has worked to offer life-changing experiences for urban youth through wilderness mentoring expeditions led by caring adults.  The original program design of single-gender, 5-adults-to-5-youth outings continues to be a unique aspect of our program.


To instill critical life skills in under-served urban youth through transformative wilderness mentoring expeditions.


As the nation’s leading wilderness mentoring organization, we will transform the lives of thousands of under-served urban youth each year.

BCM Core Values

  • We are united by a devotion to young people and a hope for their future.
  • We believe for the teens we serve, the incomparable challenge of wilderness experiences in the company of positive adult role models can begin a teen’s journey of self-discovery and promote the values of community and responsibility.
  • We are united by a respect and love for the outdoors and a dedication to the preservation of the wilderness.
  • We believe that self-esteem and resilience are fundamental to a teen’s health, happiness and future success.
  • We believe that all teens deserve positive adult role models to teach, inspire and motivate them.
  • We believe that our many blessings have been given to us as gifts to share.


Audio History project: In 2009 BCM undertook an exhaustive interview campaign. Tracing back our roots, we interviewed 20 people who were critical in today’s success. Interviewees included our founder, past board members, early supporters, Summit For Someone climbers, and of course volunteers.  Visit our In their Words section to hear these stories.