Big City Mountaineers (BCM), a provider of life-changing wilderness experiences for under-resourced youth, sent the organization’s 10,000th participant into the backcountry this summer, marking a huge milestone for the nonprofit.
“Our founder, Jim Kern, started BCM after taking one teenage boy on a camping trip,” said Bryan Martin, executive director. “We are incredibly proud of how many participants we have served since, and grateful for our partners in the outdoor industry who have helped us get here.”
Today, Big City Mountaineers serves under-resourced youth in seven major cities from Miami to Seattle. In Colorado alone, BCM led 14 trips this summer. The signature BCM trip is a week-long wilderness expedition that pushes teens out of their comfort zones in a positive and supportive environment. Despite the organization’s growth—over 20 percent year over year—BCM’s one-to-one mentorship model recalls Jim Kern’s first trip with a single participant. “We believe the one-to-one model is crucial to effective youth mentorship on our trips,” Martin said.
As BCM has evolved, the organization offers multiple touch-points and opportunities for youth to participate beyond the classic expedition. Younger kids can attend overnight camps prior to a week-long trip, and teens who complete an expedition can return as peer leaders. All of these experiences serve to have a lasting impact on a demographic often at a disadvantage at home and in school.
To raise awareness and funds for its programs, BCM offers similar outdoor experiences for interested individuals or organizations looking for a way to give back. Summit for Someone, launched in 2004, offers guided summits of peaks across the nation, as well as “custom challenges” where groups can build their own fundraising adventure. To learn more, visit bigcitymountaineers.org/fundraise/summit-for-someone.