Explore Austin Blog
September 12th, 2016Based on Explorer SWT surveys, our Mentors really shined this summer. “I trust my Mentor” was the highest rated question (9.4 out of 10) with “I loved my SWT experience” a close second (9.1/10). Four out of five Mentors (80%) completed a SWT survey which gave us twice as many responses as ever before. To our great satisfaction, the highest rated categories among Mentors was the “Overall Experience” question (9.3/10) and the “Explore Austin Staff” question (9.4).
August 16th, 2016
On the first night of our trip, we did a small zip line. One of our explorers, Luis, looked skeptical as we started to put on our harnesses and helmets. He was afraid of heights and wasn't nearly as excited as his teammates to tackle this obstacle. We explained that all of our challenges in Explore Austin were challenges by choice. If he didn't want to participate, that would be fine. We just asked that he put on his gear and go to the top of the zip line. He agreed and went to the top but chose not to do go down the zip line. We praised him for showing courage just by going up to the top.Read More...
August 9th, 2016Read about the (literal) peak of the 2018 Boys Summer Wilderness Trip in Colorado, with guest narration by Mentors Jordan Epton (JE) and Taylor Journey (TJ):In order to safely summit Mt Baldy, a 13,679 ft peak overlooking the French Gulch Valley, the 2018 Boys team had to pack up camp well before the sun broke over the mountains. Thedecision was made the night before that “we were going to push for a true alpine start - wake up call at 2am - leave camp by 3am sharp” (JE). Despite the painfully early start to the hike, “the troops rallied, spirits were high, and the bridge was solid ice” (TJ). The team had to make their way across two separate ice slopes, the first of which was “a solo switch-back hike for the whole crew, everyone successfully completing the trek with just headlamps and footprints in front of them” (JE). The second ice slope was the more difficult of the two, and the team broke up into five groups of five people, individually attached together by a rope, as they prepared to make their way up the 75 degree slope.
August 2nd, 2016Every year Explore Austin CEO, Mike Braeuer, travels with a team of Explorers on a week-long Summer Wilderness Trip. Mike believes that going on trips helps keep him more connected to the Explore Austin mission, even if that means riding 70 intense miles on a mountain bike in the summer heat. See below for Mike’s story about his 2016 trip in his own words.
August 1st, 2016Karen pounded her fist against the gritty rock wall in frustration as she lost her footing on a hold and swung backward and forward on the rope like a pendulum. “It’s okay, Karen, you’ve got this!” I called up to the fourteen-year-old Explorer from below. It was Friday, the last morning of the KABP 2020 Girls’ Summer Wilderness rock climbing trip, and the New Mexican sun was hot and relentless.
July 15th, 2016Sam Gammage joined Explore Austin as a Mentor to help change the lives of underserved youth and specifically the lives of the 2021 Austin Achieve boys. Little did he know he would encounter moments along his Mentor journey where his Explorers would return the favor. In his own words, Sam recounts his Explore Austin Story below:June 29th, 2016
At Explore Austin, we believe the outdoors is a superior learning environment, and we take hundreds of kids outside to learn about leadership, teamwork, and adventure every year. The outdoors has been proven to benefit children and teens more than any other population, particularly in the area of academic achievement. Basically, nature rocks. And because nature is so awesome, we teach our Explorers the value of respecting it. At Explore Austin, we follow a set of principles known as Leave No Trace.The Leave No Trace Center for Outdoor Ethics is the most widely accepted outdoor ethics program taught on public lands. It is an organization devoted to protecting our planet’s natural spaces by teaching its inhabitants how to enjoy the land responsibly and respectfully. There are seven Leave No Trace (LNT) principles, and each one is important for the protection of our planet.June 1st, 2016
A few weekends ago the 2019 KAC girls Explorer team surprised one of their Mentors with a baby shower. Their Mentor, Anita Robertson, was blown away by the planning, time, and thoughtfulness her Explorers put into throwing the shower for her. Due to the pregnancy, Anita will not be able to attend her team’s Summer Wilderness Trip mountain biking in Colorado. When the girls found out she would not be attending, they immediately started planning the surprise baby shower. In her own words, Anita reflects on her time as a Mentor and the surprise her team recently made:April 22nd, 2016
Hello everyone, I am Edward Robledo, a Senior at KIPP Austin Collegiate, and a graduate of Explore Austin. Thank you all for being here tonight. We are all united here this evening for the same reason: to support an amazing organization that I can honestly say changed my life.
There wasn’t a day I didn't wake up excited to be out in the wilderness, there wasn't a day I didn't wake up overjoyed to be out learning from my Mentors. I learned how to start a fire, how to rock climb, how to be myself, how to mountain bike, how to be confident, and the most important of all, I learned how to believe in myself. Being surrounded by the beautiful landscapes is something I will always remember but when I think back to all of my trips and my six years in the Explore Program, I don't remember the crystal clear lakes or the powdery snow. I remember my friends, I remember the massive pine cone fight we had and most painfully of all I remember the hot sauce eating contest in which I ended up with Cholula in my eye.
It’s the emotions I remember the most. It’s the feeling of wanting to quit but being pushed by not just my Mentors, but my friends. It’s the family we created that will always be my treasure. There were most definitely times that I wanted to quit, times that I could not stand to be put in uncomfortable situations where I had to face my fears, but those experiences pushed me beyond my limits and molded me into a person that not only my family is proud of, but a person I am proud to be. Looking back, I see my friends faces., I see the way that I grew and the shell I came out of; I see the the shy and small person I once was. I see the growth I couldn't have achieved on my own. I cannot imagine having grown up without my Mentors. Although I only spent one Saturday per month and and one week in the Summer with them, those short days have equated to years of wisdom that have been my guiding light.April 7th, 2016
Caroline Hammond is the Program Director for the Texas Cultural Trust, a statewide arts non-profit, advocating for the role of the arts in education. She leads the development of a technology intensive high school arts curriculum implemented in more than 250 schools across the state. The Trust also studies the impact of creative learning on student outcomes. The Trust is developing a grassroots campaign funded by the Houston Endowment to research, district-by-district, the access Texas public school children currently have to arts education. Previously, Caroline worked for the United States Department of Education in the Office of Postsecondary Education, for the Texas Legislature House Higher Education Committee, and interned for the First Lady at the White House. Caroline, an Austin native, is a graduate of Pepperdine University earning a BA in Art History and French. She is a member of the Junior League of Austin, a founding member of EngageATX, serves on the Austin Film Society INDIEpendents committee and the SXSWedu Advisory Board. Outside of work, Caroline is an avid cook, tennis player and considers herself to be a high functioning hippie. Caroline loves to hike, spend time at town lake, and walking in her neighborhood, Clarksville. Caroline became a mentor with Explore Austin to encourage girls to be brave, not perfect, and to live into the fullness of who they are meant to be. Caroline is still learning this herself.
Explore Austin is excited to have Caroline on the Class of 2022 team and looks forward to the impact she will have in the lives of her Explorers! Click HERE to read about more of our awesome mentors!