Ed Viesturs is known for summiting the world’s 8,000-meter peaks without oxygen, but not many people know the work Ed does to help under-resourced youth develop critical life-skills and experience the great outdoors with Big City Mountaineers (BCM). In July, Ed led a team of 19 climbers on a trip to Chamonix, France to climb Mont Blanc through BCM’s Summit for Someone program. The team raised over $200,000 to help send 1,000 BCM kids on life-changing expeditions of their own.
The Summit for Someone (SFS) program is championed by Ed and exists to raise money to fund week-long wilderness mentoring expeditions for under-resourced kids. Through these expeditions, BCM kids learn to overcome challenges, set new personal goals, and become stronger, more productive, thriving members of their communities. Each expedition joins 5 teens and 5 adult mentors on a week-long back-country journey. Together they travel many miles and sleep under the stars, often for the first time. Prior to their trip, most BCM youth have spent little to no time outside their urban neighborhoods. Being immersed in nature for a week provides them with a new perspective. Through their experience, BCM kids develop character, integrity, responsibility and decision-making skills. When they return home, they are more likely to stay in school and stay away from drugs and violence.
Thirteen year-old Sierra, a BCM student from Washington state, lives in a community where gangs, dropping out of high-school and high crime rates are the norm for students her age. Last summer, Sierra went on a BCM wilderness mentoring expedition in Olympic National Park with Boys & Girls Clubs of Southwest Washington. Her BCM trip provided her with an experience where she overcame the challenges of living in the backcountry for a week, summiting a mountain and carrying a heavy backpack. Pushing through the physical and mental challenges of the trip helped her gain a higher self-confidence, develop trust in her group and develop leadership skills. She said, “Our BCM trip ended up being pretty amazing. I learned to persevere and that I can accomplish difficult things when I put my mind to it! I will take what I learned this summer and apply it to reaching my dream of attending Harvard or Yale University.” Like Sierra, 91% of BCM students emerge from their expeditions in the great outdoors with increased positive identity.
Ed Viesturs believes in the transformational impact of BCM expeditions on youth. Viesturs said, “I believe in giving back more than you take. I am proud to represent Big City Mountaineers’ Summit for Someone program and to have the opportunity to use my experience and passion for mountaineering to bring more people to this great cause. It’s inspiring that climbers will challenge themselves to provide young people in need with the outdoor experience of a lifetime.”
The vital funding that is raised through Summit for Someone makes it possible for Big City Mountaineers to deliver transformational wilderness mentoring expeditions to 1,000 under-resourced urban youth across the country each year. SFS participants travel and climb the world’s premier mountains while positively impacting the lives of urban youth. Climbers choose from 33 separate climbs on 20 classic peaks including the Grand Teton, Mt. Rainier and Mt. Kilimanjaro… or they can create their own challenge. In June 2015, Viesturs will continue his support of BCM by leading two climbs of Mt. Hood to benefit BCM kids.
Editor’s Note: For more information on Big City Mountaineers and Summit for Someone, visit their website. Get involved with the local Seattle chapter of BCM!