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

Expedition Survival Tip

The key to a perfectly gooey s’more is all in how you toast the marshmallow. For best results, position yours an inch or so above the flames.

Frequently asked questions


Are there age requirements for volunteers?
Does BCM have minimum requirements for their volunteers?
Will I get to meet the youth group I will be working with prior to my trip?
What kind of training does BCM provide their volunteers?
Will I have to pay anything?
Will BCM pay my travel expenses?
Who are the other volunteers on my trip?
Can I pick my trip location?
Who are the youth I will be working with?
Where are your trips?
When are your trips?
What is the general itinerary of each BCM trip?


Are there age requirements for volunteers?
We prefer our volunteers to be 21 years of age, but exceptions can be made. BCM is willing to work with our potential leaders on a case-by-case basis to determine if our needs and goals match.


Does BCM have minimum requirements for their volunteers?
BCM requires dedication to the youth population we are serving for all volunteers.  Volunteers who will be interacting with teens are required to pass a criminal background check.  For our wilderness expeditions, we require a seven- or eight-day commitment as well as pre-trip training sessions. We require that you provide your own equipment (sleeping bag, backpack etc.).  A BCM trip is physically demanding; being in shape and a clean bill of health is necessary. Each member of the team is evaluated and assigned to a trip where their particular skills will be best utilized and complimented by the other volunteers. This evaluation is a comprehensive questionnaire regarding your experience and history both in the outdoors and working with youth. Please click here for complete list of requirements.


Will I get to meet the youth group and other adults I will be working with prior to my trip?
BCM will facilitate day outings and meetings prior to your weeklong expedition so that you can start getting to know the other individuals on your trip. We also rely on the leaders and youth to get together on their own. It is very important that the adults in your group meet prior to the expedition to go over expectations. Meeting in person is ideal, but a conference call can also work.


What kind of training does BCM provide their volunteers?
BCM has online training sessions that we require all volunteers to view. We also have conference calls with our staff and other volunteers to talk about the upcoming trip and help answer questions. There is also face-to-face training for our adult team members in each of our regions.


Will I have to pay anything?
Volunteers pay a $125 fee that will help cover the trip costs. BCM is very grateful for your commitment to the youth we serve and ask that all volunteers pay this fee to cover a small portion of the basic costs associated with your participation. This directly helps BCM stretch our funds to get as many youth as possible on expeditions. Your contribution helps BCM cover volunteer costs for items such as; BCM Staff time, training expenses, handbooks, administrative costs, as well expedition costs (food, permit fees, campground fees, insurance premiums, transportation, etc). If you would like to fundraise to cover your fee you will have an opportunity to do so through our Change A Life Campaign. If you have additional questions please contact the Program Staff in your region.


Will BCM pay my travel expenses?
You are responsible for paying your own travel expenses to and from the trip departure city. BCM will not pay for plane tickets, hotel, gas, food, etc. prior to the start day of your trip. The volunteer fee will cover transportation costs to the trailhead from your meeting point. Your volunteer-related travel expenses may be tax-deductible.


Who are the other volunteers on my expedition?
The other volunteers on your team are qualified individuals such as yourself. We do our best to match skill sets on each trip to make sure that there is a variety of expertise spread across the entire team. There will be one Instructor who is hired by BCM to lead your group through the backcountry. The Instructor is required to have a minimum of a Wilderness First Responder and CPR certification, so that they are qualified to handle any medical issues that may arise. You will be given your fellow Team Members’ names and contact information prior to the trip so you can meet or talk when it is convenient for all of you.


Can I pick my expedition location?
BCM’s policy is to pair youth and adults in the same geographical location as often as possible so ongoing mentoring can occur after the trip. Specifically, new volunteers must reside within 200 miles of our hub locations in the San Francisco Bay Area, Portland, Denver, Minneapolis, and Chicago.


Who are the youth I will be working with?
BCM works with youth organizations who serve teens from socially or economically depressed areas who, without programs like ours, would not be introduced to the backcountry. The teens have been hand-selected by their organization and consider this opportunity to be an earned privilege. The youth may be from a residential placement facility, after-school program, foster care, group home, or educational institution. In addition, the youth organization is required to send a staff member from their organization on your trip to help with the teens.


Where are your trips?
BCM delivers its program in 4 major urban regions throughout the country. We partner with organizations from the San Francisco Bay Area, the Denver Metro Area and the Portland Metro Area to run backpacking programs in the nearby mountainous wilderness areas. The Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness in Northern Minnesota supports our canoeing program with youth and volunteers from Chicago and Minneapolis.


When are your trips?
The focus of the BCM experience is a seven-day backpacking or eight-day canoeing trip that take place in the months of June, July or August. We are also introducing single day and overnight programs. These events are designed as pre-trip outings to introduce volunteers and teens to one another and prepare them for their wilderness expedition; we also organize these events as post-trip activities to reunite the same teens and adults from the summer trip and help them draw meaning from their backcountry experience.


What is the general itinerary of each BCM trip?
Each BCM trip is unique, but follows roughly the same itinerary. There is a set timeline and system that we would like you to use a guide while in the field. Below is a sample itinerary; please see the Virtual Expedition section for more details.

Backpacking Sample Itinerary

  • Day 1: Adults and teens come together in one of BCM’s program cities. Gear is picked up and team drives to first night’s lodging (varies depending on location). Dinner and group activities fill your evening.
  • Day 2: Gear is distributed and tested and backpacks loaded. Day 2 is the first day on the trail.
  • Days 3-5: These days are spent in the backcountry, either traveling or in camp. Other activities include: BCM rituals, outcomes-based activities, backcountry lessons, and a peak climb. These days will be discussed in detail during training sessions and in your handbook.
  • Day 6: Leave the trail and head to front-country basecamp or campground. Clean gear, do laundry, and shower. Celebrate accomplishments at dinner with awards ceremony.
  • Day 7: Head home and return gear to BCM office.

Canoeing Sample Itinerary

  • Day 1: Adults and teens come together in one of BCM’s program cities. Gear is picked up and team drives to outfitter where they will stay for the first two nights. Dinner and group activities fill your evening.
  • Day 2: Gear is distributed & tested. Practice day on the water to learn canoe skills.
  • Days 3-6: Day 3 is the first day on the water. These days are spent in the backcountry, either paddling or in camp. Other activities include: BCM rituals, outcomes-based activities, backcountry lessons, and a challenge event. These days will be discussed in detail during training sessions and in your handbook.
  • Day 7: Leave the water and head back to outfitters. Clean and return gear, do laundry, and shower. Celebrate accomplishments at dinner with awards ceremony.
  • Day 8: Head for home.

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