KEEN's Mountaineers

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Mountaineers is a year-long adventure “club” for Kittitas County teens ages 11-16. Mountaineers meet weekly with their instructors, local guests specializing in that month’s educational theme, and engage in exciting activities to prepare them for each upcoming excursion. Excursions/trips are held twice per month and will be a mix of backpacking, camping, hiking, snowshoeing, trail building, boating, and exploring our natural world. 

Minimum 10 students.

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hiking

Program leader,
Carlyn Saunders, is an Appalachian Trail through-hiker...if anyone knows about hiking, camping, and survival skills...its Carlyn!

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camping

You'll get to find the hidden corners of our region on special monthly trips. 

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adventure

There's no substitute for adventure. It provides a new way to perceive life, who you are, and how you spend your time. This program will change your life.

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environmental education

KEEN's mission is to increase environmental literacy. Themes, speakers, books, and other projects will help expand your critical thinking skills.

WHAT IS KEEN’S MOUNTAINEERS?

Mountaineers is a year-long adventure “club” for local teens ages 11-16. Mountaineers meet weekly with their instructors, local guests specializing in a STEM or outdoor field, and engage in exciting activities to build confidence, leadership, and communication. Up to 26 trips are being scheduled for the 2022-2023 school year (September-June) and will be a mix of backpacking, camping, hiking, snowshoeing, trail maintenance, boating, and exploring our natural world.

WHO CAN BE A MOUNTAINEER?

Middle and high schoolers who love being outside, challenging themselves in new ways, meeting new friends, and learning interesting things about the places they visit. Participants have the opportunity to develop an appreciation for the environment, develop self-esteem, share their spirit for adventure, and experience teamwork, friendship, and a sense of community through memorable wilderness experiences.

 

WHAT IS THE PROGRAM SCHEDULE?

Weekly meetings are designed as an afterschool club. Kids only sign up for weekly meetings at their local middle school

  • Thursdays: Morgan Middle School, Ellensburg from 2:15pm-5:00pm

  • TBD: Washington Middle School, Yakima from 1:30pm-4:00pm

KEEN's Mountaineers Adventure Club takes place at Morgan Middle School on Thursdays from 2:15-5:00pm. Students will meet on site and participate in outdoor recreation and education programming at Morgan Middle School or nearby parks. Students must be registered for weekly meetings to be eligible to participate in weekend excursions. Weekend day or overnight excursions are open to all participants from all schools. There will be multiple weekends repeating the same trip so that all students have a chance to participate in each themed overnight (culminating in approximately 9 trips per school year). Trip schedules will appear quarterly on our website, including a link to the registration page.

 

HOW DO I SIGN UP?

Club registration is for a year-long spot in the program (September – June). The registration fee covers activity cost for weekly meetings. Additional sign up and fees are required for each excursion. Participation in each excursion is NOT required for participation in the program. Full schedule of excursions and fees will be posted on the website.

WHO ARE MY LEADERS?

Dedicated, energetic, and talented individuals passionate about teaching and leading youth. Our instructors have backgrounds in wilderness medicine, backcountry survival skills, and a wide variety of educational fields such as biology, anthropology, chemistry, geology, geography, art, and music. They come from a wide variety of backgrounds and life experiences and are committed to providing youth with fun and educational excursions in the outdoors while maximizing the safety of all participants. Guest experts are local leaders in their fields including professors, industry professionals, artisans, educators, and enthusiasts.

WHAT WILL I LEARN AT MOUNTAINEERS?

Participants will have the opportunity to learn from instructors, guest experts, and industry professionals about a wide array of topics. Each weekly meeting will provide engaging experiments, discussions, and activities about the monthly theme. Examples of themes could include Geology of the PNW, Winter Survival, Protect Our Trails, Hiber-NATION, High Adventure, and Our Western Waters.

WHAT IF I’VE NEVER DONE ANY OF THESE ACTIVITIES BEFORE?

No prior experience is necessary to participate in Mountaineers. In fact, we have designed some of these adventures as introductory wilderness experiences. We’ll teach you all the skills you need to succeed and enjoy your time in the outdoors. You do not need to be athletic to enjoy any of the activities, but maintaining a healthy, active lifestyle will help each experience be more comfortable.

WHAT WILL I EAT ON EXCURSIONS?

We provide food and you will be offered three full meals each day including plenty of snacks. Meals can include pasta, burritos, stir fry, bagels, oatmeal, and hot chocolate, and S’mores of course! We easily accommodate most dietary restrictions; let us know in advance so we can plan accordingly. All the participants help prepare and clean up after meals.

WHAT DO I NEED TO BRING ON EACH TRIP?

When you register for a trip, you will receive the entire information packet, which includes a packing list of personal gear to bring. This list includes backpacks, tents, sleeping bags, clothing, shoes, toiletries, flashlight, hat, sunglasses, water bottles, and other similar items. Cooking equipment will be provided and shared. A limited number of backpacks, tents, sleeping bags, and sleeping pads are available to borrow.

 

HOW SAFE WILL I BE?

Safety is a high priority in all aspects of our programming. Leaders have Wilderness First Responder, First Aid and CPR training and are selected for their good judgment, problem solving, and confidence under stress. Any outdoor activity has inherent risk. We do our best to minimize the potential dangers and maximize the safety precautions with everything we do. One way we do this is by providing one instructor for every 8 participants, with a minimum of two instructors, to ensure proper supervision. Staff also utilize GPS devices when out of cell service to communicate in case there is an emergency.

WHAT IS EXPECTED OF ME AT MEETINGS AND ON TRIPS?

Participants are expected to keep a positive attitude, respect the educators and other group members, take responsibility for their personal belongings and group equipment, be supportive and inclusive of fellow participants, try new activities and foods, make good decisions about personal safety, and follow KEEN programming policies. Participants are expected to engage in all meeting activities and help with trip chores like cooking, cleaning, pitching tents, getting water, and storing equipment and food at the end of the day.

Fall 2022 Trips

"Welcome to Mountaineers" Day Hike

September 17 & 18, 2022 8am-4pm

Cost $50

 

It's time to get to know your fellow Mountaineers! This year, we have kids coming from many different school districts. Come join us in an afternoon in the mountains! We'll hike some beautiful trails, play some get-to-know-you games, and maybe go for a swim! Excursion includes snack and transportation; packed cold lunch is recommended.

 

IMPORTANT: Sign up for EITHER Saturday or Sunday's hike. You must already be enrolled for the club to join weekend excursions.

 

"Leave No Trace" Overnight Backpacking

September 24-25, 2022

October 1-2, 2022

Cost $75

 

Let's start the year off right: by learning the basics of backcountry ethics and giving back to our public lands. We'll spend the weekend trekking into the backcountry, learning how to use our gear, implementing our Leave No Trace principles, and building teamwork skills. Excursion includes all meals and transportation.

 

IMPORTANT: If you wish to attend both weekends, register for your first choice weekend and add your name to the waitlist for the second (include the trip name in the waitlist notes). This way we can ensure that every kiddo has an opportunity to attend once.

 

"Spooky Trails" Halloween Day Hike

October 29 & 30, 2022 12pm-10pm

Cost $50

 

It's spooky season! Time to travel to those places lost to time and learn the history of these haunted places. Come join us for a day exploring the ruins of an avalanche shelter that pulled 100 people to their snowy deaths. We'll hike some beautiful trails, share some scary stories around a fire, and roast some s'mores! Excursion includes snack and transportation; packed cold lunch is recommended.

 

IMPORTANT: Sign up for EITHER Saturday or Sunday's hike. You must already be enrolled for the club to join weekend excursions.

 

"Ancient Lakes" Desert Day Hike

November 12 & 13, 2022

Cost $50

 

Head out to our local coulee to search for our desert friends: coyotes, rabbits, and birds! We'll wander the shrub steppe, circumnavigate beautiful lakes, and find some natural sand dunes. Excursion includes snack and transportation; packed cold lunch is recommended.

 

IMPORTANT: Sign up for EITHER Saturday or Sunday's hike. You must already be enrolled for the club to join weekend excursions.

 

"Refuge at the Potholes" 3-day Overnight Camping

November 18-20, 2022

Cost $100

 

Late fall is the perfect time to spend time on the water: fishing, paddleboarding, and bird watching all weekend at Potholes State Park. We'll stay in cozy cabins, cook over a campfire, and even explore the Columbia Wildlife National Refuge. Bring your binoculars and board games for this weekend away. Excursion includes all meals and transportation.

 

"A Holiday in Leavenworth" Bavarian Adventure!

December 3 & 4, 2022 8am-4pm

Cost $75

 

It's Leavenworth's annual tree lighting weekend! We'll spend the day exploring this little Bavarian-themed village, do some holiday shopping, and go ice skating! Excursion includes snack and transportation; packed cold lunch is recommended.

 

IMPORTANT: Sign up for EITHER Saturday or Sunday's trip. You must already be enrolled for the club to join weekend excursions.

 

 

"Winter Bonanza" Overnight Camping

December 10-11, 2022

Cost $100

 

Will there be snow? Who knows?! But that doesn't mean we can't spend the final week of school exploring our natural world. Location TBD. Excursion includes all meals and transportation.

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