Why We’re Thankful


I have had the privilege of serving as the Executive Director of Big City Mountaineers for the past five field seasons. Each year, I am humbled by how much work goes into making each trip and each season successful.

Summers at BCM are like the 100 Meter Dash at the Olympics. Those of us at home tune in to see the most exciting ten seconds in sports. We don’t usually see the hard work and sacrifice those runners have put in to prepare for that moment. And it all has to come together – under the pressure of the lights and the cameras – or else the opportunity will be lost.

Though we’ve finished our sprint for the year successfully, the work for next season is happening now. With our 30th program season behind us, we’re already hard at work:

  • Communicating with our agency partners, volunteers and trip instructors throughout the off-season. They’re debriefing on this summer to make next year that much better!
  • Working with corporate partners to make sure we have vital gear and equipment. Keeping the inventory refreshed means students are warm, dry, and comfortable out in the field.
  • Coordinating with land management agencies on permits. Their collaboration helps to protect the wilderness experience while giving youth on expedition an appropriate challenge.
  • Securing critical funds from donors and foundation supporters. This ensures the financial resources exist to run fully-funded programs at no cost to youth.
  • Investing in professional development for volunteers and instructors. More training for adults on expedition means more support for youth on their journeys – and better student outcomes overall.
  • Developing more relationships with local youth development agencies. Ideal agency partners serve marginalized communities – communities that are usually underrepresented in outdoor recreation. By removing barriers to outdoor access, our fully-funded and professionally-led trips give students skills they can bring back to their communities.

The result? One of the most transformational forms of experiential education. It’s not just a week-long backpacking trip. it’s a rediscovery of strength, adaptability, resilience, and a personal relationship with the natural world.Three young women stand in front of a mountainous backdrop. They have their arms around each other, and are smiling for the camera.

As we push on towards the 2020 season, I am left feeling incredibly grateful to you – our supporters, our cheerleaders, and our volunteer community.

Thank you for your time, your thoughtfulness, and your belief in the power of outdoors experiences. You give youth experiences they’d never dreamed of before.

Bryan Martin
Executive Director
Big City Mountaineers

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