HMI Summer Term Frequently Asked Questions

Students apply to the HMI Summer Term as high school freshmen, sophomores, or juniors. Our summer students are typically between 15 and 17 years old.

No. Many of our students have never backpacked, hiked, or skied before. We teach all our students what they need to know to survive and thrive in the wilderness. All necessary outdoor gear can be rented at HMI and financial aid awards include reduced-price or free gear rental.

For a detailed overview of who should and should not participate in HMI programming, view our Essential Eligibility Criteria

HMI has about thirty Essential Eligibility Criteria (EEC). Below are a few highlighted criteria: 

All participants must:

  • Come with an open mind and positive attitude.
  • Display tolerance, respect and compassion towards all.
  • Participate fully in stressful and emotionally intense wilderness, residential life and academic experiences, including changes in diet, group living and a daily routine that is likely much different than your routine at home.
  • Perform necessary self-care independently or with the assistance of a companion on campus or in a remote and outdoor setting, including personal hygiene and toileting needs, adequate hydration and dressing appropriately for weather conditions.
  • Withstand repetitive and sustained use of one’s body including, for example, hiking 3-9 miles a day for multiple days, and carrying a pack weighing 35-45% of one’s body weight.
  • Learn skills and engage in tasks to support yourself and the group. This includes, but is not limited to: cooking in the wilderness or in a commercial kitchen for self and others, setting up and taking down a camp, washing dishes, caring for group gear and camp site or cabin care, including clean-up.

For a full list and more information about HMI’s EEC click here

No. Many students choose to to do so, but this is entirely up to the student. 

No. Your polished personal essay–as well as your writing in the Writing Seminar and on backpacking expedition–is what you take home at the end of the program. 

We can easily accommodate vegetarians and students with mild dietary restrictions and food allergies. Students with severe food allergy or dietary restriction should know that, while we do our best to use clean kitchen utensils and cookware to prepare food, we cannot guarantee zero cross-contamination. Our gluten-free options are made and cooked in the same facility and ovens as our regular, gluten-containing food items. We cannot guarantee (without fundamentally changing the nature of our program) that food items prepared at HMI are 100% free of gluten (or other allergens) as there is always a possibility of trace amounts crossing over from other kitchen areas. Before applying, please be in touch with the HMI Admissions office to discuss any severe allergies or dietary restrictions.

You may view our current dates and tuition on our Tuition & Affordability page. 

We have 33 students each Summer Term.

Students facing mental health challenges at HMI can turn to their advisor and our part-time licensed therapist. Additionally, some students continue sessions with a mental health professional at home through video chat. While on backpacking expeditions, students have limited-to-no access to outside mental health professionals. Our rural location means mental health supports beyond those listed above is very limited.

While some students with mental health challenges have thrived at HMI, others–particularly those with moderate to severe mental health issues–have struggled significantly on our wilderness expeditions and on campus because of the intensity of living in remote areas, exposure to situations outside of our control (such as weather), and the lack of private time and space. Many students who struggle in similar situations at home have not found intensive wilderness and residential settings easier to navigate. For these reasons, we do not recommend HMI for a student who has recently completed a residential behavioral therapy program. 

Please contact us to talk about how we could best serve your student. In addition, we are happy to share our knowledge of the many excellent wilderness therapy programs in the United States.

HMI is not a wilderness therapy program. Our school has no therapeutic focus or program components to help students deal with addiction, mental health issues, or unresolved traumas.

HMI has a zero-tolerance policy around drug and alcohol use. Students enjoy significant independence on our campus but are expected to make all decisions with community safety and trust in mind. The presence or use of illegal substances on our campus represents a breakdown of this trust and and we cannot support students who engage in such behaviors.

Yes. Covid-19 vaccination is required for all students as well as the vaccinations mandated for Colorado K-12 students. Colorado law allows for medical and religious vaccine exemptions to this requirement, but these are the only exemptions we will accept.

Applications are accepted on a rolling basis through February 15th. For more information, visit the Apply Now page. 

HMI Summer Term Informational Webinar

Watch the recording or join an upcoming webinar! Below: HMI Director of Admissions Ray McGaughey is joined by two recent Summer Term alumni and their families. This webinar covers the wilderness, writing, and community components of the HMI Summer Term. At the end of the webinar is a short overview of the Summer Term financial aid process. Recorded December 13, 2021.

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