Want to know more?

BOAT is a lot of things at once – a wilderness program, a mission, a set of education tools… the list goes on. We take a stab at answering some common questions here.

is BOAT really more affordable?

We sure are! The whole premise of BOAT is a more affordable, accessible model. We offer high quality programming, but without wasteful expenses on marketing or facilities. We’re consistently able to offer trips at 30-50% off the national average price of a program like this, cutting costs (and not corners). 

are you a 501c(3)?

Yes! We are recognized as a nonprofit by the IRS and the State of Colorado (so your donations are tax deductible!).

How does this differ from an outdoor school program?

A few states have Outdoor School or related programs, and they’re great! We differ in a few ways:

  • We tend to focus on teenagers and up, rather than elementary kids (though young’ns are still welcome on our day programs!)
  • Our group sizes are smaller – perfect for teaching social dynamics.
  • We’re more rustic!

Outdoor school is great for schools that want to make a broad investment in outdoor education, but they often still present the same logistical challenges of equipment and transportation we avoid. BOAT offers more specialization. For kids that have done outdoor school, BOAT is a great next step. For kids that haven’t, we’re a different – but still great – introduction. We complement outdoor schools rather than compete with them, and we’re a big fan of outdoor school becoming more and more commonplace!

what does the bus carry?

When we say it carries everything you need to go camping, we mean it. That means systems for shelter, water, fire, food, navigation, clothing, and more.

Except shoes. It would take a bus all on it’s own to carry enough of the right shoe in the right sizes. So instead we work with partners to get you reasonable deals on good hiking shoes (or help make sure your sneakers are up for the job!).

Oh, and please bring your own underwear.

does everything really fit?

Sure can – we have 360 square feet of storage, not counting above and under seats. Most people camping need about 5 square feet. The bus can take 36 people on an expedition, which means 10+ square feet per person (or in non-math terms, “room to spare!”).

what do you need to build a bus?

Our first bus, “Big Red,” was built from donations. We converted it for about $7,000 (and a lot of volunteer labor), slapped on a $8,000 roof rack for lights, rain proofing, and storage, and filled it with about $15,000 worth of gear. That’s roughly what it takes! Our bus includes places to cook, pack food, clean and repair gear, lay out maps, plan trips, and – of course – store everything you need to go camping.

Just to brag – we once visited an outdoor program on a camp. They spent $100,000 to build a bathroom, which actually inspired us. We could fully outfit at least three busses for that price, and provide outdoor education to a city of 100,000 people.

how many of these do you want to build?

So many.

In all seriousness, we built the BOAT model hoping we could make something that can scale quickly. We are launching in Denver, but we think any city can easily support 3 busses, and larger cities probably more. Plus there are plenty of cities with ideal markets for BOAT.

Want to help us expand? Consider donating.

what does a program actually look like?

We run three major kinds of programs:

  • Partner Expedition
  • Weekend Courses
  • Outdoor Classroom & Consulting

Our programs are typically backpacking or “basecamping” (setting up a site and hiking from there), but we mix it up from time to time. Our preference is to operate in areas that give our students the flexibility to choose navigate off trail and choose their own campsites. This offers the best opportunities for authentic leadership, challenge, and managed risk.

Our participants show up, and we outfit them right at our bus – we check their gear, provide what they don’t have, and then load our backpacks up and head to a trailhead for our trip.

isn’t it dangerous? (and doesn’t that make the insurance prohibitive?)

These are two sides of the same coin – and the answer is no. We do require insurance, as any credible programs does (you should ask when looking for a program!). But we know something our insurance companies do too:

  • Your average teen is twice as likely to end up in the hospital while staying at home, relative to being on an outdoor program.
  • Know kids who play sports? They are anywhere from 100-900% more likely to sustain an injury relative to wilderness activities.
  • The most dangerous part of any of our programs is driving, something most families do every day – we do it in the safest vehicle around, and with trained drivers.

The reality is, while we can never guarantee safety, what we do is statistically a much better option than plenty of things young people are doing – and the impacts are much greater.