Big City Mountaineers is excited to launch its first regional expansion from summer to year-round programming in the San Francisco Bay area. Funded entirely by a $21,250 grant from REI, BCM will, for the first time, continue to engage its youth group partners in unique and challenging outdoor adventures beyond its core summer programming.

“Evolving from a single, intense eight-day backcountry experiences to a series of outdoor adventures that allows for continued interaction between our teen participants and volunteer leaders has been a goal for BCM since our San Francisco program was created in 2001,” comments Mark Godley, Executive Director of BCM. “However, it wasn't until early 2004 that the critical mass of volunteers, youth agencies, and outdoor industry partners came together that would allow us to fulfill this strategic vision. With funding from Y & H Soda Foundation and Kraft Foods, BCM piloted the year-round concept in the spring of 2004 to rave reviews from our volunteers and youth agency partners. To have REI so quickly and generously support the expansion of this pilot into a comprehensive program available to all our youth agencies is remarkable.”

The San Francisco Bay Area has become BCM's largest and most successful region in the country since the non-profit began offering Bay Area programs in 2001. In summer 2004, BCM conducted 13 recreational mentoring trips to Yosemite National Park with teens from some of the most under-resourced communities of Northern California. Sixty-five teens from youth development agencies in the communities of San Leandro, East Oakland, San Pablo, and Bayview/Hunters Point embarked on unforgettable, eight-day wilderness trips to the pristine backcountry of Yosemite National Park.

These trips were led by an equal number of adult volunteers who devoted their expertise and time to ensure a safe and meaningful experience for these teens. It is this same group of at-risk teen participants and volunteer adult leaders that will now have the opportunity to continue their relationships through other inspiring outdoor recreational activities such as canoeing, mountain biking, rock climbing, kayaking, snowshoeing, and hiking over the next year due to REI's extremely generous grant.

“In 2004, REI will give $2 million back to the communities in which we do business–through grants and outreach programs. In the Bay Area we are very fortunate to work closely with a number of fantastic nonprofit organizations. REI is proud to support Big City Mountaineers as it builds a lasting legacy for generations to come.” said REI Northern California Outreach Coordinator Hillary Harding.