It is safe to assume that many Coloradans love a summer hike, camping beneath the stars, or, well, just being outside. These experiences shape who we are. But what if you couldn’t head to the mountains on a whim because your family couldn’t afford the trip? Big City Mountaineers, a nationwide organization serving kids living below the poverty line, leads more than 1,000 Colorado kids each year on weeklong wilderness expeditions so they, too, can experience the outdoors—regardless of money.

The organization uses the philosophical model of the hero’s journey to instill growth, integrity, and character development in kids dealing with poverty, broken homes, and gang violence. “They are thrown into a scary adventure with a mentor and guide,” marketing director Heather Metivier explains. “They overcome challenges, and they successfully return to their world and learn from their journey.”

Get Involved: Big City Mountaineers relies heavily on volunteer mentors from all fields: lawyers, doctors, social workers, you name it. Give back with a week of your time or volunteer to guide single-night camping expeditions for kids (ages 8 to 12) to prepare them for a weeklong excursion.

—Image courtesy of Mitsu Iwasaki