Today's Lesson: Keeping Your Head Above Water
Water Bottles

Expedition Survival Tip

When climbing a mountain, remember reaching the summit is only half the battle. Coming down requires equal energy and focus.


We all came together at BCM because we believe in one thing: The power of wilderness to change lives. We’re the staff members who think the smiles of urban teens are more important than a big paycheck, the Board of Directors who volunteer their time for a cause they believe in, and our Sponsors who use their successes in the business world to power miracles in the nonprofit world.

Colorado Headquarters Staff

Executive Director – Bryan Martin
BryanNEWBryan brings over 15 years of experience in the recreation and conservation space as both a practitioner and an advocate. Bryan began his career working for The Nature Conservancy in Washington, D.C. and in Colorado.  He then went on to become the Field Operations Manager for the Continental Divide Trail Alliance, and later, Director of Conservation for The Colorado Mountain Club. Most recently, he was the Western External Relations Officer for the Land Trust Alliance, the national convener, strategist and representative of more than 1,200 land trusts across America. He is deeply passionate about the outdoors and what outdoor experiences mean for kids. He believes that meaningful experiences in nature have tangible benefits for communities all over the country. Whether it’s a walk in the city park or an extended backcountry experience in Wilderness, the outdoors has the potential to change your life for the better.

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Director of Programs – Elizabeth Williams
Elizabeth grew up exploring her local creeks and forests as a child, but truly discovered the power of the outdoors while leading teens on backpacking and climbing programs during summers while in college. After graduating with a degree in Social Science and Communications, Elizabeth ran adventure programs at a residential camp before spending a year traveling and teaching in India and Nepal. Elizabeth started at Big City Mountaineers as the Marketing and Development Intern, but quickly returned to her experiential education roots by taking over as the Colorado Programs Manager. Currently the Director of Programs, Elizabeth leads program and field staff to deliver safe and transformative outdoor experiences to BCM youth. When not at work, Elizabeth is an avid skier, climber, and mountain adventurer.

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Corporate Relations Director – Doug Sandok
Born and raised in Minnesota Doug’s first outdoor experiences were canoeing and camping in the Boundary Waters. He has a B.A. in Sociology from Colorado College and a minor in Urban Studies. Doug has built his life around being in the outdoors, traveling the world, and creating opportunities for others to learn and grow from challenge and adventure.

Since early, pre Gore-tex, backpacking trips in the Rockies, to guiding and instructing in the Himalayas and South America, Doug has been shaped by the wild places and the people he shares those experiences with.  “There is no substitute for a wilderness experience – the growth that comes from a hard day moving through challenging terrain, and working with a team to reach a goal. Sometimes, it can be as simple as exploring your own ‘backyard’. and sleeping on the ground under the stars. Those are the elements that foster personal growth and deep friendship.”

Doug’s professional background includes work with Outward Bound,  Where There Be Dragons, the Breckenridge Outdoor Education Center, Doctors Without Borders, and Paradox Sports. Doug takes his skills learned in these experiences and puts them to work empowering organizations to have greater impact through improving systems and program delivery, and through meaningful partnerships with supporters.

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Accounting Manager – Kandace Soiland
Kandace SoilandA native of Denver, Kandace spent her childhood exploring the great outdoors with her family. Kandace is delighted to work for an organization that offers outdoor experiences for children who may not have the opportunities she did. ‘My earliest and best memories are exploring the forest with my grandmother. The greatest gift she ever gave me was a love of nature.’ Kandace’s career includes raising two children while creating and growing a business and volunteering with various community organizations. Kandace holds a technical degree in Computer Information Systems and is currently studying finance at Regis University.

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Donor Relations Manager – Theresa Simcic

theresaTheresa comes to us from Allentown, Pennsylvania by way of Lexington, Kentucky. She grew up camping, hiking, swimming, and boating on the east coast. She has a passion for working with under-resourced youth and has a deep desire for every child to have access to the same opportunities for growth, learning and ultimately success in life. She believes that nature is the most dynamic tool for teaching and one of the greatest sources of inspiration. She is excited to be part of a team that is harnessing the power of the outdoors to provide a transformational experience for one of our most vulnerable yet promising populations.

Theresa has a B.A. from Shippensburg University in Psychology with minors in Anthropology and International Studies. She holds masters in Experimental Psychology and Public Policy from the University of Kentucky. She has previous professional experience building a nonprofit program that helps early-stage entrepreneurs. In her personal time, Theresa enjoys any fitness challenge, traveling, experiencing and learning new things, and exploring with her dog Dakotah.

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Regional Program Staff

Colorado Program Manager – Bix Firer
Bix began working with BCM as an Overnight Camp Instructor in 2012 and has been Colorado Program Manager since 2016. Bix has worked with schools and youth development non-profits delivering and developing outdoor experiential education programming in Alaska, Colorado and Wisconsin. These experiences and his own adventures have taught him that the greatest personal growth comes from the challenges, joys, and camaraderie of learning outside. Bix has a BA from the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee and a MA from University of Chicago. When not working with students outdoors, Bix is most likely climbing, eating, biking, hiking, and packrafting in Colorado’s mountains with his dog, Bodhi.

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Pacific Northwest Program Manager – Mike Gundlach

Mike started backpacking at the age of 7 and has been an avid backpacker and outdoor sports enthusiast ever since.  He grew up in the Pacific Northwest and considers this part of the country home. Mike has been working with under-resourced youth in a variety of outdoor capacities since 2003 and was originally introduced to BCM as a volunteer in 2012. Prior to working for BCM he was the Operations Coordinator for Northwest Service Academy. Time spent outdoors in nature has had a profound effect on Mike and he is passionate about sharing the transformational power of the outdoors with youth that may otherwise not have an opportunity to participate in this life-changing activity. When not working for BCM Mike can be found volunteering with local youth organizations, mountain biking, hiking, or enjoying a yoga class.

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Minnesota Program Manager – Andrew Benda
AndrewNEWHailing from Michigan’s Upper Peninsula, Andrew recalls his most formative moments as those involving saunas and Lake Superior in his hometown of Houghton. Andrew moved to Minneapolis shortly after his first backpacking trip on Minnesota’s Superior Hiking Trail. Prior to this he spent several seasons leading trips and handling logistics for Camp Manito-wish YMCA in the Northwoods of WI. Andrew is an amateur filmmaker and musician, and enjoys field-recording while on the trail.

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California Program Manager – Megan Archer

Megan discovered her passion for environmental and outdoor education as an undergraduate at the University of Texas at Austin. Outside of her time pursuing a degree in Environmental Science she interned for various environmental organizations educating Austin youth about water conservation, alternative energy and general outdoor skills. Before joining the BCM team, Megan spent two years serving as as an outdoor educator leading trail crews with conservation corps in Montana and Colorado. During this time she witnessed the positive impact of intentional outdoor communities on both the individuals and the land. Megan works towards making the outdoors accessible to everyone by organizing positive outdoor experiences that debunk stereotypes about the outdoors, and promote a culture of safety. Megan is dedicated to outdoor advocacy, stewardship of our public lands and peer mentorship. In her spare time Megan does live storytelling in the Bay Area, enjoys long bike rides, and is constantly planning her next camping/backpacking trip. She is also working as the Producer of a film that focuses on the impact of intentional outdoor communities on our public lands and the young adults who work on them.

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Colorado Overnight Camp Manager – Adam Pettee

 Adam began his journey in outdoor education in Baltimore, MD where he led backpacking, rock climbing, and whitewater kayaking trips at Towson University. He honed his craft of challenge course facilitation at Genesee Valley Outdoor Learning Center in Maryland as well at the Denver Parks and Rec Ropes Course in Genesee, CO. He has a strong belief that the most authentic and effective learning happens when people feel respected, are well cared for, and are having fun. Adam is excited to develop curriculum and activities for the overnight camp program because he understands the need every child has to move around and be constantly engaged with their environment, as he himself gets bored quite easily without those elements. When he is not working for BCM, he is either rock climbing, backpacking, eating ice cream, or imagining himself sitting in on drums with a rock band called Journey.

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Program Assistant – Becca Garfinkel

Becca is a child of the Midwest, having grown up in the Metro Detroit area and spent many months as a camper and counselor at summer camp in Oconomowoc, Wisconsin. It was here that she discovered her love for the outdoors during camping trips across Southeastern Wisconsin, from climbing in Devil’s Lake State Park to backpacking excursions on the Ice Age Trail. Becca attended the University of Michigan, where she earned degrees in Political Science and Community Action & Social Change. She was also a member of the Varsity softball team while at Michigan. Although her time was limited during the school year due to softball training and competition, Becca headed west every summer break to climb mountains and fill her adventure quota, culminating in a 1,300 thru-hike of the Pacific Crest Trail the summer after her senior year. After graduating, Becca spent a year teaching and learning in Israel. Through this work, Becca witnessed firsthand the power of mentorship to transform both communities and individuals for the better. She is thrilled to join her passion for the outdoors and her experience with youth at Big City Mountaineers!

In her spare time, Becca enjoys eating vegan food, practicing yoga and doing literally anything outside. She is also a huge nerd and political junkie and wants to go to law school someday.

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4 Legged Staff

bodhi sneezeNo longer the youngest member of the BCM dog crew, Bodhi has been hiking and watching his people climb since he was 8 weeks old.  He is passionate about moose poop, fetch and bunnies. While at work, Bodhi loves to keep Willa in line and see what food has been dropped in the kitchen. Bodhi cannot wait until the end of summer so his people have more time to play fetch and go running. Bodhi prefers to be reached by rotary phone.

Willa Mae

willa-maeWilla is the current puppy of the BCM crew. Born in Montana, this little lady spends her time following her mom around, hassling Bodhi, and taking naps in the sun spot on the office floor. She love skiing! Willa can be reached solely through Instagram: @willa_mae_adventure_dog




Dakotah is KY born and raised (he bleeds blue – Go Cats!) but is loving his new CO lifestyle. If he’s not busy smelling everything CO has to offer, he can be found searching his co-worker’s trash cans for food scraps, making sure Willa keeps a safe distance from him, or cuddling by his mom’s side. Dakotah prefers all communication go through his assistant, Theresa.