If you caught my earlier blog about why I woke up early on a Saturday to hang out with a group of strangers, then you’re familiar with how amazing Explore Austin is. This Austin, Texas based nonprofit is on a mission to empower underprivileged youth of Austin through outdoor exploration. Starting in sixth grade, Explorers (students) are placed in a group of about 15 Explorers with 5 Mentors. They complete Saturday challenges once a month which feature all sorts of fun activities like rock climbing, mountain biking, canoeing, and hiking. During these Saturday Challenges, Explore Austin emphasizes wilderness skills and developing future leaders through their ACES (Action-Oriented, Courageous, Excellent Teammate, and Strong Communicator) curriculum. Explorers come away from their six years with Explore Austin with leadership skills, a first-hand appreciation for nature, and the confidence to succeed after graduating high school.

Every summer, Explorers and Mentors take a week to go out in the wilderness and put the skills they learned throughout the year in action. These activities build in difficulty level year after year and feature amazingly awesome adventures like mountain biking, rock climbing, and hiking a fourteener in southwestern Colorado, backpacking in the Wind River Valley of Wyoming, and canoeing and camping along the Buffalo River in Arkansas.

When James Farber, Program Manager at Explore Austin, got in touch with Carlos Andreu, ACK’s fleet sales manager about acquiring some canoes we couldn’t be more excited about helping out and partnering with their amazing organization. They ended up choosing Mad River Journey 156’s. These canoes feature a shallow arch hull for easy gliding on the water, track and turn well, and offer incredible stability making them the perfect choice for beginners. We can’t wait to hear how Explorers’ practice sessions on Town Lake go and are even more stoked for the class of 2020’s trip to the Buffalo River this summer!

 To learn more about Explore Austin, check out their website, and if you’re interesting in becoming a mentor, they’re always looking for caring, committed, and excited folks to spend some time with their Explorers! Applications are available here and are due December 1st, 2016. Feel free to reach out to Program Coordinator Walker Hendry with any questions or for more information on getting involved with Explore Austin.

Devyn, Experiential Outdoor Learning and Explore Austin Advocate