Extended backpacking expeditions bookend the Summer Term

At HMI, wilderness expeditions inspire our students reach their potential—and provide valuable material to explore in personal essays. Participants spend three weeks in the mountains of Colorado over the course of two backpacking expeditions. The first expedition focuses on building a foundation of wilderness, risk management, and leadership skills. By the second expedition, students are given more autonomy, working up to the point where they might travel and make decisions independently of instructors. Small expedition groups of 8-10 students and 3-4 instructors lead to affirming communities and powerful team dynamics. The wilderness offers a chance for our students to unplug from technology and the typical stresses of high school life and connect deeply with their peers and teachers.  

No previous outdoor experience is required to participate

We welcome students of all skill levels, from the expert outdoorsperson to the novice who has never spent a night in the woods. Most important is an adventurous spirit and an excitement about stepping outside of one’s comfort zone. All necessary outdoor gear can be rented at HMI and free outdoor gear rental is included in most financial aid packages. 

Wilderness skills carry over to the classroom

HMI’s wilderness curriculum teaches skills that can be transferred to life at home, college, and beyond. The backcountry provides an ideal setting for students to develop their leadership and communication abilities as they work with their peers and receive coaching from instructors. As students learn how to read a map, navigate terrain, and work together they also learn a great deal about themselves. These experiences improve self-awareness, build open-mindedness, and develop interpersonal skills that will serve students far past the time they spend in the wilderness.

7:00 Wake up to birds chirping and the sun rising.

7:15 Prepare a breakfast of cheesy hashbrowns with your tent mates and pack your backpack for the day.

9:00 Meet with your instructors and go over the route for the day, play a game, stretch and get ready to hike!

12:00 Stop for an impromptu wade in an alpine lake! Recharge with trail mix, tuna and cheese.

2:30 Arrive at your next campsite, explode your backpack and set up camp.

4:00 Gather in a spot with a great view for journaling time.

5:00 Pizza party! Instructors teach you how to make dough in the backcountry and bake it over a backcountry camp stove.

7:00 Meet up with the group for games and Circle; look out for shooting stars

9:00 Head back to your tent and hang out, get ready for bed. You have another big day ahead of you tomorrow!

View our 2012 Summer Term video (note that the program is now five weeks, not six, and the academics have pivoted towards personal essay writing. But the ethos remains the same!)

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