“I volunteered with Big City Mountaineers, a nonprofit organization that focuses on getting underprivileged youth into nature on week-long expeditions. There is a 1:1 ratio between mentors and students, guaranteeing that each student gets the attention they deserve. Our group was comprised of all girls who were students at Oakland International High School here in CA. These girls have come from all over the world within the last few years, refugees from Bhutan, Vietnam, Nepal, Somalia, Guatemala and Honduras. Some of the girls are still in the process of learning fluent English and none of them had been backpacking before!
I set out on this journey expecting to be a mentor for the students. Never did I imagine that each of us on this trip was going to be a mentor for everyone else. I saw the students mentoring each other, adults mentoring each other, mentors mentoring students, and most amazingly students mentoring the adults.
One of my favorite moments came on our last night in the wilderness.
Each of us took time to reflect on and share what we were going to take with us and what we would leave behind while the sun set on Cathedral Peak in Yosemite. Though responses varied, themes were the same. One student spoke of trust and that she had always felt that things were easier to just do by herself and that she never really saw the importance of teamwork. She said, however, that on this trip she learned the joys of working together with others.
I also LOVED the day the students summated their peak they were looking out for each other, and helping each other over difficult spots in terrain while gaining altitude, traveling cross-county. One student said what she was taking with her was teamwork, for she had learned that “many little rocks can built a big mountain.”
Thank you Vail Resorts for this was truly a wonderful experience!”
- Kate Goloski, Vail Resorts Retail, Berkeley CA