Deer Hill Foundation

Deer Hill Foundation was established to offer the unique experience of an expedition with Deer Hill to those who would otherwise be unable to afford it. Most contributions come from individuals and families that have been personally touched by the reward of our work, but several community organizations support the Foundation, as well.  Since its inception in 1998, Deer Hill Foundation has made over 1,000 scholarships available to participants. Please consider making a donation that fits with your budget.

If you are interested in applying for a scholarship to attend a summer expedition, complete the online screening form on the Scholarship Information page to determine eligibility.

How Your Contribution Helps

Contributions support Deer Hill’s mission in three important ways: 1) They allow individual youth from around the country to participate in summer expeditions with Deer Hill, 2) They support cross-cultural service projects with host families in the Navajo Nation, and Zuni and Hopi pueblos, and 3) They assist with training and professional development for Deer Hill staff.

Participant looking out over the San Juan Mountains


In an excerpt from a letter by Rahwa, a scholarship recipient, we see the impact her Deer Hill experience had on her belief in herself as a leader, and her understanding of community: “While at Hopi, we found out about Wilbur, an old man who’s wife had passed away a few years ago and we were told he is very lonely. We decided to go eat our meals with him and talk to him whenever we can. When I got home at the end of the trip I had a letter waiting for me from Rhonda. It was about how she and her people in Arizona have been doing, asking me about my family. Finally she told me what Wilbur had said about our Deer Hill group. She quoted him, and this I will never forget. He said, “They have made my life longer and richer, and that is something money can’t buy.” I never realized before that I can make a huge difference in someone’s life by doing such a simple thing.”

Cross-Cultural Service Projects

Deer Hill’s service projects with Native American families in the Navajo Nation, Zuni Pueblo and Hopi Pueblo make meaningful contributions to those communities, and foster connection across cultural boundaries. The host families that work with Deer Hill, some of whom have been host families with us for decades, design the projects not only to be important to their community, but also to create opportunities to share cultural arts, stories and traditions with participants. Service projects typically run from three to seven days, and can include a wide variety of activities such as building bread ovens for families in Hopi Pueblo, fixing the roof of a traditional Navajo hogan, tending sheep and mending fences on a multi-generational family farm, or whitewashing the plaza buildings in the oldest continually inhabited town in the United States.

Field Educator Training

Field educators are the heart and soul of Deer Hill, facilitating experiences that transform a young person’s worldview, and inspire a sense of empowerment, leadership, and wonder. Deer Hill Foundation supports the growth and professional development of committed field staff by providing training opportunities that will further their work guiding Deer Hill participants to “find themselves in the middle of nowhere.”


I want to express my deepest gratitude to you for providing Trevor with the scholarship that allowed him to attend Deer Hill this summer. Trev came home from his expedition with confidence and decision-making skills that weren’t there when he left. He is so ready for a more challenging expedition, and is already making plans to attend the Wilderness Leadership expedition next year. See you next year!

Debbie, parent

Your Chance to Help Awaits donate

Service at Deer Hill

Most of Deer Hill’s service projects get you working alongside Hopi, Navajo and Zuni families on projects that they have proposed. Oftentimes, host families will share cultural knowledge, stories, and arts with participants. Other service projects are conservation oriented, and arranged with the US Forest Service or Bureau of Land Management. Service projects in summer expeditions will earn you between 20 and 56 service credit hours.

More About Service

Wilderness Adventure

Deer Hill’s programs offer young people a chance to connect with nature in some of the world’s most remarkable landscapes. They also push individuals to overcome challenges and learn new skills to stay safe when enjoying the backcountry. Deer Hill’s wilderness adventures typically include a combination of white water rafting and canoeing, canyoneering, rock climbing, hiking and backpacking. Our Costa Rica programs also include surfing and sea kayaking.

More About Wilderness

About Deer Hill

Deer Hill Expeditions was founded in 1984 by Doug and Beverly Capelin, who still own and operate the Mancos, Colorado-based company. Since 2005 Deer Hill has designed custom programs for school and community groups to provide fun, meaningful, and memorable culminating experiences, retreats, and educational expeditions. Deer Hill is accredited by the Association of Experiential Education, and maintains an impeccable safety record.

More About Deer Hill