KEEN's Mountaineers

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Mountaineers is a year-long adventure “club” for Kittitas County teens grades 6 through 8. 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 monthly (Friday evening to Sunday afternoon) 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 Kittitas County teens ages 12-16. 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 monthly (Friday evening to Sunday afternoon) and will be a mix of backpacking, camping, hiking, snowshoeing, trail building, 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 grow 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 meeting times are tentatively scheduled for 7-9pm on Thursday evenings in Ellensburg.

 

HOW DO I SIGN UP?

Membership 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. 

WHAT IS THE PROGRAM COST?

Membership for Mountaineers is $179.00 per month. Monthly excursions are an additional fee based on activity type. Each excursion will have a different fee (excursions are optional) that is dependent upon where the group goes, what type of activity is involved, and if there are rentals or other costs to cover. KEEN pays our employees living wages and the membership fee just covers their staff time.  We need a minimum of 10 students to register in order to run the program.

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. 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 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.

Spring 2022 Mountaineers Schedule

APRIL 9-10, 2022 – FIRE, FIRE, FIRE Location: Black Canyon, Cost: $75/

Location: Black Canyon Our rapidly changing climate is causing the west’s wildfire problems to worsen every year. On this trip, we’ll hike into a burn zone from the 2020 Evans Fire to investigate how the fire was started, what factors caused its spread, and how the area is recovering two years later. We’ll camp in the meadows surrounding the destroyed cabin and learn how to process the mental stresses surrounding wildfires with creative art. Cost: $75

 

MAY 21-22, 2022 – DOWN BY THE RIVER Location: TBD, Cost: $75/

Location: TBD Do we need a reason to run off into the mountains for the weekend? Absolutely not. Spring fever is upon us and we need some lush green forests to soothe our hectic minds. We’ll head alongside a river swollen with melting snow, where the rocks are covered with dripping moss, and the animals are actively seeking food after a long winter. Perhaps we’ll even find Bigfoot… Cost: $75

 

JUNE 18-19, 2022 – JUMP IN THE PADDLE Location: TBD, Cost: $150

Location: TBD I’ve never known a kid to turn down a chance to frolic in water. And that’s just what we’ll do as a celebratory kick off for summer. We’ll leave the backpacks at home and pack all our gear into a dry bag. We’ll learn how to balance atop a stand-up paddleboard and some basic water rescue techniques. We’ll then travel uplake to a backcountry site and beat the heat playing in the lake (don’t worry, lifejackets will be required). Cost: $150