After its inception in 1989, Big City Mountaineers (BCM) is celebrating 30 years of adventures this June. In three decades, the nonprofit has engaged with 10,000 kids, conducted nearly 800 expeditions, organized 5,500 volunteers, led 120 overnight camps, and provided over 45,000 nights under the stars.
With locations in Boston, Miami, Minneapolis, Portland, San Francisco and Seattle, BCM helps youth gain access to powerful experiences created in the great outdoors. Big City Mountaineers has been rated a Gold Level charity by GuideStar, the world’s largest source for information on nonprofits.
Without Big City Mountaineers, under-resourced youth may never get the opportunity or exposure to experience the outdoors, even more specifically, the Rocky Mountains. Big City Mountaineers provides free, fully outfitted, and professionally led paddling expeditions, backpacking trips, and overnight camps for under-resourced youth.
“As we get ready to embark on another great season changing the life trajectory of youth, I know our work is as important today as it was when Jim Kern led our first trip in 1989,” says Bryan Martin, BCM’s executive director.
This summer, BCM plans to lead 40 expeditions, 20 overnight camps, and dozens of single-day hikes and outdoor activities—engaging 1,000 youth in the outdoors. It will be the organization’s biggest season yet.
Trips are designed to support and develop student’s socio-emotional learning. BCM tailors each experience, creates a curriculum, and set goals in tandem with partner agencies, explained the organization. While each student’s experience may vary, BCM is always seeking to teach or reveal civic mindedness, self-esteem, self-efficacy, responsibility, goal setting, resilience, and care for others.
“We are genuinely humbled and inspired by our donors’, volunteers’, and corporate sponsors’ generosity,” says Martin. “We are thankful to have a community of supporters who care deeply about ensuring that everyone—regardless of their background—has access to experiences in nature and the personal growth that those experiences can inspire.”
The programs at Big City Mountaineers have always been based on three primary principles: people, partnerships, and places. The kids on an expedition are always paired in a 1:1 ratio with adult mentors to ensure participants the maximum support needed to achieve personal goals and bolster their critical life skills throughout the experience. In addition, BCM partners with community-based youth development agencies to recruit students and to ensure long-term continuity with the program.
BCM prides itself on the inspirational places it conducts its trips. The journeys participants take into the backcountry serve as a catalyst for change. The length and the depth of each experience is a key factor in their ability to effect positive change. Expeditions are led in places like Yosemite National Park, the Boundary Waters, the Flat Tops Wilderness, the North Cascade Range, and the Presidential Range. 0