UCO and Big city Mountaineers

Light My Fire, a distributed brand of UCO’s parent company, Industrial Revolution, is a very proud supporter of the Big City Mountaineers, and their Summit for Someone charity climbs. UCO People member, Steven Reinhold, reflects on his experiences with the program:

Twenty-five years ago Jim Kern — an avid wildlife photographer — planned a backpacking trip to Montana for himself, his son and an adult colleague. Continental Airlines was running a special at the time which allowed an adult to purchase a youth ticket for only one additional dollar. Surprisingly, Jim’s son could not find any friends that were willing or allowed to join the trip. Jim had dreamed of sharing the outdoor experience with urban youth and this turned out to be the perfect opportunity to manifest that dream in Montana. They searched the Miami area and serendipitously awarded the fourth ticket to a most deserving urban youth named Raymond. Their week-long trip took them through Glacier National Park and into the Jim Bridger Wilderness. Imagine seeing the glory of Glacier NP as a 14-year-old who had never left his downtown neighborhood. Not surprisingly, Raymond was deeply impacted by the trip and in the heart of the wilderness, the idea for Big City Mountaineer’s blossomed.

Big City Mountaineers (BCM) is now a nationwide charity which has provided over 7,000 under served urban youth with week long wilderness mentoring expeditions. Do the math there and that adds up to over 36,000 nights under the stars, equaling nearly 100 years worth of transformative nights in the wilderness!

The core wilderness mentoring program at BCM consists of a week-long trip with five adult mentors and five urban youths. The real key to BCM’s success has been a focus on quality mentoring with the 1-1 ratio of kids to adult mentors. Often times the trip marks the first experience “BCM kids” have with a positive adult role model. Over 80% of “BCM’s” kids live below the poverty line. Roughly 75% come from single parent households. Nearly all of them are ethnically diverse and 100% of them are deeply impacted by their time spent in the great outdoors!

Typically, half way through the trips the kids transition from wide-eyed and intimidated greenhorns to confident explorers. Along the way they learn invaluable life skills – courage, confidence, resiliency, team work, decision making – which will translate to all of their future endeavors. By the end of their trips, the kids takeover cooking, cleaning, navigating and logistical duties. They are truly empowered to grow and explore under the watchful and caring eyes of the adult volunteers. Several of the kids even end up “going full circle” which former director of BCM, Jeff Weidman, describes as someone who grew up as a “BCM kid” and now leads trips as a wilderness mentor!

Funding for Big City Mountaineers’ programs comes from a unique combination of Outdoor Industry support and the fruits of a program known as Summit for Someone. I am very proud to say that Light My Fire – UCO’s partner brand under Industrial Revolution – is a huge supporter of BCM! Aside from sponsoring my climbs they donate thousands of dollars worth of merchandise and money to help fund BCM expeditions! Not only do they contribute monetarily but the President of Industrial Revolution, Graeme Esarey, even climbs with the Summit for Someone program!

Last year, I was lucky enough to join Graeme on a Summit for Someone climb of the Grand Teton. The man is incredible and epic does not even begin to describe our experience which you can see first hand by clicking on the link below!

The Summit for Someone program (SFS) gives individuals the unique opportunity to turn their next adventure into a climb for a cause. They offer climbs on America’s most iconic mountains as well as trips to Kilimanjaro, Aconcagua and Everest Base Camp! By signing up for a climb you agree to meet a fundraising goal. When you reach that goal you are rewarded with a guided climb on the mountain of your choice and an incredible gear package from our sponsors. Climbs range from no experience necessary hikes to highly technical routes. They will even let you create your own adventure on a bike or a kayak. If you can dream it up, Summit for Someone will help you make it happen!

From personal experience, I can tell you that the Summit for Someone program has a transformative effect on climbers just as impactful as the one BCM trips provide for urban youth. Over the last few years, I have been lucky enough to climb Mt. Whitney, Mt. Shasta, the Grand Teton and Mt. Langley with the SFS program. On those climbs, I have travelled the country and met editors and VP’s from major media sponsors like Backpacker Magazine. I have roped up and climbed with multiple athletes from The North Face. I have climbed with some of the most incredible mountain guides on the planet. Most notably, I have had the chance to climb with nearly 100 other Summit for Someone climbers! This group consists of mothers, fathers, families, lawyers, doctors, engineers, teachers, sales professionals and even students. Now, I consider all of these people friends and their effect on my life has been long lasting. I am truly honored to have shared base camps and summits with these philanthropic adventurers!

Next year’s Summit for Someone climbs will be announced soon, will you join a climb for a cause? Follow along at www.bigcitymountaineers.org and sign up for an all around life changing adventure!