Frequently asked questions

Youth Agencies

About the program
Why should our teens experience a BCM expedition?

A BCM experience combines the innate teaching ability of the natural world, caring adults mentors, and your existing relationship to provide a potentially life-changing experience for youth. By providing mentors with diverse life experiences in partnership with existing youth development organizations, our programs  act as a catalyst to positively impact the development of personal, social and community values in the youth you already serveOur partners regularly say that they can accomplish more with one of their students over a week in the wilderness than they can over six months in a school gym.

“Life is like these hills. You hit your high point and your low but you look into yourself to draw strength and carry on. If I ever hit another really low point in my life I can draw on my confidence to bring myself up again.”

Natalie, BCM Teen

Does your program make a difference? How do you know?

BCM measures program effectiveness utilizing the 40 Developmental Assets Profile. 

Our greatest impact is in three internal asset categories: 

  • Positive Values – Integrity, honesty, responsibility, and avoiding alcohol, tobacco, and drugs 
  • Social Competencies – Decision-making, conflict resolution, building friendships, and avoiding negative peer pressures 
  • Positive Identity – Self-esteem, purpose and positive view 

 

These internal asset categories are associated with positive youth development like succeeding in school, maintaining good health, valuing diversity, and avoiding risk behaviors.

What is my commitment?

Since BCM covers the majority of the cost and the logistics/equipment, the main youth agency commitment is staff time. Besides the weeklong expedition itself, there is a day of training and pre-trip activities. Do not underestimate the time it takes to follow up with the youth regarding paperwork and to organize outings.

BCM handles all logistics for the expedition, including hiring a paid instructor, permits, food, and recruitment and training of all volunteers.

What type of agencies does BCM partner with?

Big City Mountaineers targets youth organizations who serve teens from economically or socially depressed areas who, without programs like ours, would not be introduced to the backcountry. The specific type of organization (after-school program, foster care, group home, educational institution, etc.) is not as important to BCM as many other factors. These factors include: geographical location; profile of the youth served by the agency; ability of the youth program to provide an appropriate staff member to attend the trip; enthusiasm and follow-through by the organization to meet deadlines and participate in BCM training; ability of the organization to monetarily contribute to the cost of the trip.

How much does it cost?

Program Fees*

Big City Mountaineers does the entirety of the fundraising for our programs.We request a small agency fee of $150.00 from your agency as a contribution toward sharing costs for each expedition.  This fee directly helps BCM stretch our funds to get as many youth as possible into the outdoors. Your contribution helps BCM offset the costs to have a youth agency leader on the trip. It helps pay for items such as their training, handbook, food, gas, campground fees, permit fees, and insurance premiums

*It is incredibly important to BCM that cost does not prevent a youth agency from participation in our program. In order for all youth agencies to have the option to participate BCM can provide fundraising resources and support to help cover costs. 

Vehicle Fees

Youth agencies must provide a vehicle to transport 10 participants and a significant amount of gear. The vehicle must equate to a 15 passenger van (2 large SUVs or minivans work as an alternative). BCM can provide a 15 passenger van or equivalent for $800. If you need BCM to provide a smaller supplemental vehicle you will be invoiced for the rental cost.

BCM will cover the cost of gas both for youth agency vehicles and for rentals.

How do I become a Youth Agency Partner?

Directly contact the Program Manager in your region! We'll then plan to meet and discuss how we can best partner with each other. You can find Regional Program Manager Contact Information here. 

Our Youth Mentors
What kind of backgrounds do your volunteers have?

Our adult volunteers come from every walk of life and are dedicated individuals who have a vested interest in helping youth gain a new perspective. Volunteers contribute their time, knowledge, and pay a fee to participate in our program. Each member of the team is evaluated and assigned to a trip where their particular skills will be best utilized and complemented by the other volunteers. We host an all-day training focused specifically on facilitation skills for our mentors. (Agency staff is invited too!) 

Volunteer Positions Descriptions can be found here. 

After completing a comprehensive questionnaire and interview process, all adult mentors are specifically chosen for their combination of youth and outdoor skills. We also conduct criminal background checks with all of our volunteers.

Why does BCM put so many adults with so few teens?

We believe in the power of mentorship and community building. Our one-on-one format seeks to provide as much personal interaction between adults and youth as possible so that true community bonds can be forged across an expedition. 

Participants
Who goes on BCM trips?

First and foremost: Youth that have the desire and excitement to participate in a backcountry experience. The uniqueness of our program is our equal ratio of adults to youth. The youth organization provides either five to six teens and one adult staff member, while BCM provides one instructor and two or three additional adult volunteers. Youth chosen for the BCM trip are typically between the ages of 13 and 18. Older or younger teens will be addressed on a case-by-case basis. Adults typically range in age from 21 to 65. 

Do Agency Staff participate in the expedition?

Yes, one Agency staff is required to participate. BCM has found that having an adult who the youth know, respect, and can look to for guidance, particularly in the first couple of days of the trip, is one of the greatest factors in the success of the experience. The Agency Member is vital in establishing trust and buy-in from the youth. Having a staff member on the trip also allows for continued teaching and reinforcement of the lessons learned on the trail once teens return to their communities. 

How many teens can I bring per expedition?

Five youth can be sent on expedition, talk to your Regional Program Manager if you’d like to bring more than five youth. 

How are teens selected to go on an expedition?

The teens are identified by the staff of the participating organization as meeting the criteria of BCM. These criteria are explained in detail in the Youth Organization Agreement, but include the teens being: between the ages of 13 and 18; youth should be motivated and excited to participate on the expedition; deserving of such an opportunity by showing responsibility and respect for themselves and others; financially unable to participate in similar activities on their own; free from health problems that would complicate their participation in rigorous outdoor activities; and emotionally, behaviorally and psychologically stable enough not to pose a threat to themselves or others while on the trip. Beyond these, BCM entrusts the youth agency to recruit and choose participants for the expedition in whatever way they feel is best for their agency and community. 

Are BCM trips co-ed?

Generally, no. We have seen incredible outcomes as groups of students and adults come together as a community of their identified gender. We work closely with agencies to place students where they are most comfortable and will make exceptions to run co-ed trips when it best serves the students.

Trip Logistics
Do the teens need to provide their own gear?

No. BCM will supply all the specialized equipment and clothing for the teen and youth agency staff. A complete packing list is provided in the youth application packet, but we just ask students to bring things they'd already have at home (shirts, shorts, underwear, etc.).

How hard will it be?

While our routes are chosen with beginners in mind, the BCM experiences are physically and emotionally challenging for both teens and adults. Each day provides new situations and obstacles ranging from weather to elevation, to being away from everything familiar.  BCM activities are designed to challenge pre-conceived limits and provide participants with opportunities to achieve success beyond what they thought they were capable of.

Do you have a set curriculum?

Yes. Our goal is to instill critical life skills, not just go on a recreational trip. Curriculum components include group contracts and goal setting, necessary backcountry lessons, teambuilding initiatives, structured individual and group reflection time, unstructured time for play, fishing, and exploration, and closing awards and celebration. (To name a few!)

Are BCM trips safe?

BCM puts emotional and physical safety of participants as our highest priority. With our 1:1 ratio of adults to teens, our trips are designed to afford high levels of supervision.  BCM instructors are experienced outdoors people who have demonstrated the ability to appropriately manage risks inherent in wilderness activities, they are also Wilderness First Responders (at minimum) and have a CPR certification.  24-hour emergency support is provided to every trip and each adult team is equipped in advance with information about emergency procedures and resources for their particular trip area.  Still, because BCM trips take place in remote settings, immediate communication and consultation with BCM administrative and program staff is not always possible.  In order to provide for the physical and emotional well-being of trip participants, instructors are prepared to make decisions affecting all aspects of their trips including: itinerary and/or route changes, behavior management, transportation, etc.  Special care is taken to ensure that every trip participant receives appropriate clothing, equipment, and training to allow them to live and learn safely in the outdoors.

Volunteers

Qualifications & Expectations
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 consider younger volunteers on a case-by-case basis. Please contact the program manager in the region you would like to volunteer to discuss this. Click here for full volunteer position descriptions. 

Does BCM have minimum requirements for their volunteers?

BCM has the following minimum requirements: 

  • Attend a volunteer information session. These are offered at various locations throughout the country. 
  • Dedication to the youth population we are serving.  
  • Volunteers interacting with teens must pass a criminal background check. 
  • New volunteers going on an expedition need to attend volunteer training (one Saturday in June)   
  • Expedition volunteers must be able to commit for a seven or eight-day trip. 
  • Expedition volunteers should to have basic backcountry camping skills (but it's not required).  
  • Expedition volunteers need to provide their own equipment (sleeping bag, backpack etc.) A complete gear list will be provided after placement on an expedition.  Talk to your Regional Program Manager if you are missing key pieces of gear as they may be able to help. 
  • Be healthy and in good shape to handle a beginner-friendly, but physically demanding trip. 
  • Understand and be comfortable with the challenges you might encounter on the trip (add link to challenges doc.) 
  • New volunteers should complete the volunteer inquiry regarding your experience and history both in the outdoors and working with youth.  
Who are the other volunteers on my expedition?

There are typically four - five adult members on each BCM expedition team outlined below: 

  • Instructor - There will be one Instructor who is hired by BCM to lead your group through the backcountry. The Instructors have at least a Wilderness First Responder and CPR medical certifications as well as backcountry experience leading trips with youth. 
  • Partner Agency Staff – At least one staff member from our partner agency will typically be on each trip. They have good relationships with the youth and can help bring cohesion to the group. 
  • Volunteer Mentors – One to three additional adult mentors will be on the trip. They come from a variety of backgrounds and are generally from the local area where are partners are located. 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. 

Will I get to meet the adults on the expedition prior to the trip? 

There are several opportunities to meet your team members prior to the trip. This can occur at training, during pre-expedition activities, during the pre-expedition conference call and/or pre-expedition meeting. Team Members’ names and contact information will be shared prior to the trip so you can meet or talk when it is convenient for all of you. 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 four primary training avenues: 

1) An New Volunteer Information session that will orient you to our programs.  

2) A full day face-to-face training in each of our regions required for all new volunteers and highly recommended for returning volunteers. (One Saturday in June – date will be provided during the interview process.) 

3) Conference call and/or in-person meeting with your instructor and other volunteers to talk about the upcoming trip and help answer questions.  

4) We also expect all volunteers to review our handbook (provided at training) on their own. The handbook provides detailed information on our program.  

Will I get to meet the youth group and other adults I will be working with prior to my trip?

The best opportunity to meet the youth on your trip is during pre-expedition activities. BCM will typically facilitate one meeting and at least one outing prior to your weeklong expedition so that you can start getting to know the youth on your trip.  

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 non-profit organization, residential placement facility, after-school program, foster care, refugee resettlement program, 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. 

What challenges will I face as a mentor?

Engaging under-resourced youth through our wilderness mentoring experiences is typically very rewarding, but it can also have a variety of challenges. Sometimes volunteer mentors head into the experience with a set of expectations and later realize the experience doesn’t match up. This disconnect can cause stress and challenges as they reconcile the gap between their expectations and the actual experience. It can also make it difficult for mentors to fully support the youth participants and the instructor. We hope that by sharing some of the challenges you might encounter it will help you make an informed decision prior to committing to a trip and in turn be in the best position possible to serve the youth and your adult team. Click here to review challenges you might encounter. 

Finances
Will I have to pay anything?

Volunteers pay a $125 fee that will help cover trip costs such as food, gas, permit fees, park entrance fees, consumable gear like fuel and sunscreen, parking passes, handbook, training, campground fees, etc. BCM is very grateful for your commitment to the youth we serve and this cost sharing fee helps BCM stretch our funds to get as many youth as possible on expeditions. 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 Regional Program Manager in your area. 

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. 

Trip Logistics
Can I pick my expedition location?
Where are your trips?

For backpacking trips BCM delivers its program in four major urban regions. We partner with organizations from the San Francisco Bay area, the Denver metro area, the Portland metro area and the Seattle metro area. We run backpacking programs in wilderness areas near these metro regions.  

For our canoe trips we use the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness in Northern Minnesota with youth and volunteers from Minneapolis. 

For specific details on wilderness locations contact the Regional Program Manager in your area. 

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 also have single day and overnight programs that occur prior to and during the main expedition season. These events are designed as pre-trip outings to introduce volunteers and teens to one another and prepare them for their wilderness expedition. After the main season is finished we organize post-trip activities to reunite the same teens and adults from the summer trip and help them draw meaning from their backcountry experience. These occur during August and September. 

Itinerary
What is the general itinerary of each BCM trip?

Although each BCM trip is unique, they all follow roughly the same itinerary. Each trip has a basic set timeline and system that we use as a guide while in the field. 

Summit for Someone

About the program
What is a "benefit climb," and who does it help?
  • Summit for Someone is a fundraising program owned by and to support the youth programs operated by Big City Mountaineers. Summit for Someone is an adventure fundraising program, giving people opportunities to climb iconic mountain peaks.
  • Big City Mountaineers, a 501(c)(3) non-profit, seeks to transform the lives of under-served youth through wilderness mentoring expeditions that instill critical life skills. We partner with community-based youth organizations and caring adult volunteers who act as mentors in the field to help young people realize their potential.
  • Our curriculum strives to strengthen integrity, self-esteem, responsibility, decision-making abilities, and communication skills in close to 1,000 youth annually. BCM has a proven track record of improving young peoples’ lives with:
    • Increased likeliness to stay in school
    • Reduction in violence
    • Reduction in drug use
  • Funds raised by Summit For Someone help provide transformative wilderness mentoring expeditions to teens from youth agencies across the country.
    • BCM communities include:
      • Denver, CO
      • Bay Area, CA
      • Portland, OR
      • Seattle, WA
      • Minneapolis/St. Paul, MN
      • Miami, FL
      • Boston, MA
Am I qualified to participate in the event?

Each of our climbs requires a varied level of hiking, climbing and/or mountaineering experience ranging from beginner to advanced. Please contact the Summit for Someone program coordinator to learn more about qualification requirements for each trip. BCM reserves the right to turn down any applicant based on skill level and fitness requirements for the sake of participant safety.

Your skills will also be gauged by our guides during your trip with Summit for Someone. In the event that you pose a risk to yourself or other participants, our guides reserve the right to intervene and reassess your participation in the event. Adequately training and preparing for your SFS climb is your responsibility and a part of participating in this experience. If you have more questions on whether or not you are qualified, please give us a call at 720-408-4569

Do the youth I'm supporting climb with me?

No, the teens do not climb with you. You are strictly raising funds to sponsor a youth agency to participate in a BCM program later this year. We highly encourage you to familiarize yourself with Big City Mountaineers and inspire yourself with stories of our youth expeditions, which you are helping to provide. You are also encouraged to become an adult volunteer and attend one of our week-long expeditions with teens in your region and witness the effect you are having yourself.

As an SFS climber, you have the opportunity to raise awareness for BCM's youth programs, in addition to important funding. We invite each climber to think of themselves as ambassadors for our youth programs and the BCM mission overall.

What is your cancellation policy?

It is key to remember that SFS is intended to help raise important funds for the youth programs BCM runs each year. We wish to make SFS climbs as fun, accessible, and flexible as possible, while also ensuring that our costs will be covered and youth programs benefit.

  • Outright cancellations 90 days prior to the start date of the SFS climb you are registered for are allowed. You are not responsible for any portion of the fundraising commitment.
  • If you cancel outright less than 90 days prior to start of the SFS climb you are registered for, you agree to pay 50% of the fundraising total.
  • You have the option to postpone your climb with SFS to the following year (a one-time option), with your fundraising dollars carried over to the following year, if you choose to do so no less than 90 days prior to the start of your climb. There is no current-year financial obligation in this instance.
  • You must reach 50% of your fundraising commitment by 60 days out from your climb. You must reach 100% of your fundraising commitment by the day before your trip begins.
  • 30-day post-trip extensions to reach the 100% fundraising mark are acceptable on a case-by-case basis with the consent and understanding of the SFS program coordinator.
  • Cancelling or postponing SFC climbs because of injury, illness, or unique personal situations will be considered. You must contact the SFS coordinator immediately to discuss this situation should it occur.
Can I climb with my friends?

Yes, you will have the opportunity to sign up to climb with your friends. Registration for each climb is on a first-come first-served basis, so sign up early if you are concerned about having space for both you and your friends. You may also set up your own custom climb with a group of friends or colleagues.

We can discuss which mountain you would all like to climb and set up an exclusive climb with our guide service partners for your group. It is important that every member of your group take ownership of both the training and fundraising aspects of their SFS experience.

Is a deposit required?

There is no deposit or minimum personal contribution required to register for a climb with SFS. We encourage all climbers to consider making a minimum donation of $50 in order to kick-off their campaign and signal their own personal investment in the cause.

Climbers are responsible for the full fundraising commitment for their climb, as well as other costs and incidentals that make the climb possible. This includes transportation, lodging, personal gear, and meals that are not covered by your guide service or by BCM. Details for each specific climb are available; contact the SFS coordinator for more information as needed.

I don’t live in the States. Can I participate in Summit for Someone?

International participants in the Summit for Someone program are welcome and encouraged to join! Please be sure to consider travel costs and other important logistics associated with traveling to the US for any Summit for Someone trip.

Fundraising
How much is the fundraising commitment?

Fundraising commitment amounts vary by climb, from $1000 to over $3000. There is no fee or minimum personal donation required to register for a climb, however. Please see the Summit for Someone page or contact the SFS coordinator for more information about each climb and its associated fundraising commitment.

Are donations made to my own climb tax deductible?

If we are providing a guide, then part of your donation may be tax deductible, depending on the value of the service provided to you and the amount of your donation.  To be consistent with IRS requirements, we advise participants that the amount of the contribution deductible for federal tax purposes is limited to the excess over the value of goods and services received by the donor. We can provide a good-faith estimate of the value of goods and services received in exchange for your donation, if needed.  For more information, see  IRS Publication 1771.

Why do the pledge requirements vary?

The pledge amounts vary due to the different cost and estimated value of each trip. Some are two days, some are four days, etc. Some require more gear and equipment than others. 

When is my fundraising deadline?

You are required to raise at least 50% of your fundraising commitment by 60 days prior to the start of your trip. You must reach 100% of that total by the day before your trip begins. In special, pre-arranged and intentional circumstances, we will grant a 30-day post-trip extension to reach the 100% mark.

I am new to fundraising. Where can I get some ideas?

You can find a list of fundraising resources on the "Fundraising + Training" page of this website. The various links there will direct you to a series of folders housed on a Google Drive and includes tips and best practices that climbers have implemented over the years. As always, our Summit for Someone Program Manager is just a phone call (720-408-4569) or email away for immediate help and suggestions.

How do I collect donations?

First, make sure you ask everyone in your network for help! Find ways to get the link to your personal Classy campaign page to that network of people so that they can contribute directly.

Donations can also be submitted to BCM by check or money order. BCM staff will credit your Classy campaign properly once those donations have been accounted for. Checks should be made out to "Big City Mountaineers"; be sure to have "SFS" and your name included on the memo line for easier tracking.

Your supporters will receive a tax-deductible receipt with their gift whether they make it on your donation page or send in a check.

Do you accept company match donations?
Can I raise money after my climb?

You have the option to make use of the 30 days post-climb to continue raising money toward your fundraising commitment.  This can be a crucial fundraising period, as you will have pictures and stories from your climb to share, like standing on top with the Summit for Someone Flag!

Please be sure to confirm your intention to use the 30 days post-trip with the Summit for Someone coordinator in advance. Otherwise, 100% of your fundraising commitment is expected the day before your trip begins.

How do I track my donation totals?

Our online fundraising platform, Classy, makes it easy to track donations to your campaign. You will also receive an email every time a donation is made to your climb with the donation amount and donor’s contact information.

If you ever have questions or concerns about donations, please don't hesitate to contact the Summit for Someone coordinator.

Summit Logistics
Who leads the Summit for Someone climbs?

All climbs are led by certified professional guide services who are permitted with land management agencies. Learn about the guide services SFS is partnering with on the "Guide Partners" page of this website.

We choose our guide partners through careful evaluation. Our guide partners are some of the best in the industry with long histories of guiding on their respective mountains.

What gear will I need to climb?

The gear that you will need on an SFS climb varies depending on the time of year you are going and the particular climb you are taking on. Please check with the Summit for Someone coordinator for gear lists on each climb.

It is the responsibility of each participant to make sure they are properly outfitted for their climb. Registered SFS participants can view required gear lists for their climb here, along with other important trip details and paperwork.

Many guide services will provide most if not all of the technical gear you will need for your climb and some gear incentive packages (depending on total fundraising commitment) will include some technical gear for your climb.

Can I rent gear?

Some (but not all) guide services offer free or discounted technical gear rentals to SFS climbers. If you are in need of gear rentals, please check with the respective guide service a minimum of 30 days in advance of your climb date for gear pricing and/or reservations. Check specific climbs for a list of necessary gear.

Almost all guide services require climb participants to provide their own personal items, including clothing layers. Through our partnership with Mountain Gear in Spokane, WA, SFS climbers can receive 20% off an order which makes it a great way to gear up for your trip while saving a bit of money.

Are travel and accommodations included in my minimum pledge amount?

Almost all SFS trips include overnight accommodations of some kind DURING your trip. Very few offer accommodations for nights prior to or after your trip ends. Be sure to research options near the meet-up location for your climb so that you are prepared and able to enjoy your trip to the fullest.

All travel arrangements are the responsibility of the SFS climber, with the exception of any transportation provided at the discretion of your guide service. BCM will not make any accommodation or travel arrangements, nor will it be responsible for costs and liability involved.

It is recommended that climbers arrive at least one day prior to their climb and depart one day post climb. Please contact the Summit for Someone coordinator with any questions about travel and accommodations for your trip, as BCM can make suggestions that may be helpful.

Am I guaranteed to summit?

Summiting cannot be guaranteed due to many different reasons which may include, but are not limited to: adverse weather conditions, climber health and safety, snow/ice conditions, experience and skill level of group, etc. Each guide service, however, will do their best to provide every opportunity for the group to summit.

What happens if not enough people sign up for my climb?

90 days prior to each climb, Big City Mountaineers has the right to ask SFS participants to move to another climb of their choice if the climb that they are registered for has 2 or fewer spots filled. The participant must choose a climb that has available spots and is within the skill level of the participant. BCM will reimburse participants non-refundable or transfer costs incurred as a result of airline and/or hotel reservations. All reimbursement requests must be submitted in writing by the participant to BCM and participant must provide proof of their incurred costs. If the participant declines, they have the option to cancel their participation.

How many fellow climbers will be on my climb? Will I be in contact with them before the climb?

The group sizes vary depending on the climb, but a typical size is 4-8 climbers. Approximately 60 days prior to your climb, you will be introduced to your fellow climbers via email. You will also be invited to attend a conference call led by your climb’s guide service a few weeks before your climb. Many climbers choose to arrange travel and accommodations together, an option that is both cost-effective and fun.

If you prefer to be in touch with your team members prior as they join, please let the Summit for Someone coordinator know your preference so that introductions can be arranged.

How do I train for an SFS climb?

While each Summit for Someone climb is meant to be accessible to people with a wide range of mountain climbing experience, it is crucial to understand that an above-average fitness level is necessary on all SFS trips. Having or developing a very strong baseline of strength and endurance will be critical to your ability to enjoy and be safe on your trip.

Plan to hike long distances while gaining notable elevation in the months leading up to your trip. Carrying weight of 25-40 pounds is ideal. Cross-train for cardiovascular fitness as much as possible. 

You can find more detailed ideas for training here. BCM strongly encourages you to consult your doctor when embarking on any new fitness regimen and to be safe above all else!

Youth Participants

Why should I go on this trip?

Big City Mountaineers students participate in our programs for a variety of reasons – wanting to experience independence, go places they have never been, or get an experience not everyone gets. What it boils down to is, all students will be able to say “I did something that I never thought I could do!” 

“Portaging (carrying a canoe) has been really hard, but it’s been really emotionally good. I thought that this would be good for me to do. It’s something that not a lot of people get a chance to do.” Franchesca, BCM Canoe Trip Participant

 

 

Will I get eaten by a bear?

NoThe chances of seeing any large animal is small as you will be travelling in a large group that will make a lot of noise, scaring away most animals. From the first day of your trip, your instructor will be teaching you all the skills you need to know to make sure to keep you safe. 

“One thing that I was nervous about was animals and bugs. […] We saw some animals, some cows, but, that’s about it. A lot of mosquitos, though, so, wear your bug spray.” –Nae, College Track Program

 

Wait… I can’t bring a cell phone?

It’s important to get the most out of your week in the woods to not be distracted by outside influences. You will hardly miss it. The company of the other adults and students on your trip will keep you connected and the beautiful views and fun games will be plenty of entertainment. Don’t worry, we will be sure to take pictures and share them with you so you can always remember your incredible expedition.  

“I learned this week that you don’t need anything to have fun. Just being with your friends and with people who care about you and are supportive, you just have the best time in the world. It’s more memorable that way as well.”

Sara, College Track Program

 

Will we run out of food?

Big City Mountaineers provides all the food you will need for your week in the wilderness. We provide three meals and plenty of snacks for each day, along with some special snacks. We promise you will never be hungry on your BCM Expedition. 

“Everyone works together and we all eat together and work together to cook the meal. It’s actually really good. It’s kind of the best days of the day to eat lunch or dinner. So, if you’re scared you’ll run out of food, you won’t. There’s a lot. But, you should be eating because the pack gets lighter”

Samara, College Track Program

Should I go? I’ve never been away from home this long, and what about bugs?

Overwhelmingly, our students say that being with their peers and caring adult volunteers means they don’t get homesick, since they know they are in a community of people who care about them. Spending this time on your own and with peers will help you feel more mature, capable, and confident. After your week away, your family and friends will see the growth in you and be excited to hear your stories. 

“Having everyone there with me made me not feel homesick, so that worked well.”

Betzabe, The New American School

How do I, you know, poop in the woods?

You will learn how to do your business in the woods from our knowledgeable instructors. With the support of our staff you’ll learn steps to use the bathroom, stay clean, and stay safe while spending time in the wilderness. To give you a bit of a preview, there are 7 ‘D’s to know about when pooping in the woods: 

1) Desire – You might be on a different schedule then you’re used to, so just listen to your body. 

2) Distance – You should always be 100 feet from other people, trails, or water, to make sure you’re being sanitary. 

3) Dig – You will dig a hole at least 6 inches deep to make sure you can keep your poo underground. 

4) Do – You know how to do this step. 

5) Deal – Clean yourself up, but make sure not to bury toilet paper. You will be carrying that out. 

6) Disguise – Use your dirt from your hole to cover it up. 

7) Disinfect – Hand sanitize or wash your hands with biodegradable soap. 

What if I don't own any camping gear?

Big City Mountaineers will provide you with all the gear you will need for your trip, including tents, sleeping gear, clothing, and footwear.  

Who are all these other adults?

Your instructors is a professionals at taking people into wilderness settings. All of our instructors have a ton of experience working with teens and are certified Wilderness First Responders or EMTs, which means they are trained in dealing with medical issues in the wilderness. BCM instructors come from a variety of life backgrounds and have many different skills, but all of them are excited to spend a week in the wilderness with you. 

Our mentors are adults from your city who usually love backpacking or canoeing and are excited to get to know you. They'll be able to teach you some cool skills, but are excited to have you tell them about your life and experiences.

Where will I be going on my trip?

All our expeditions go to National Parks or National Forests nearby your city. We choose areas for their natural beauty and for the challenge they will offer in travelling through. Ask your agency staff and they will have more information. Also, a BCM staff member will have more information when they come and present at your organization.  

Can you accommodate my medical or dietary needs?

We work hard to make sure all students who would be safe while travelling in the field can come. We will work with your agency staff to determine if we can accommodate your needs, and will work hard to find ways to make you safe and comfortable on trail. 

Don’t see your question answered above?