Canyon Country Program Information

Preparing for Your Trip

This page is a resource for participants and parents to plan for their Summer Expedition; it includes information about clothing and gear that participants need for their trip, and which items are available for rental or purchase at the Deer Hill Store, as well as general information about Deer Hill Expeditions and how to prepare for your trip. You will find required forms below with instructions for completion and return. If you have any questions, please call our Admissions Manager, Jordan Lang, at 970-533-7492 or email her at


To plan for the safety and success of Deer Hill Summer Expedition participants, we collect health and travel information. Please complete the forms below as soon as possible.

Participant Health History

Due immediately

Travel Itinerary

Due May 25

Physician’s Medical Form

Due May 25

Please print this form, and bring it to your son or daughter’s physician to be completed. Return the form by mail or email (complete instructions are included with the form). If you have any questions, please contact our Admissions Manager, Jordan Lang, at 970-533-7492 or by email at

Research Study Consent


This summer Deer Hill will be working with Alpenglow to collect data on the effects our programs have on participants. This research study is being conducted by Dr. Curt Davidson at Alpenglow Education to understand the personal growth and development of participation in Deer Hill’s Outdoor Programs. Participants are selected as a possible subjects because they are going to take part in our outdoor adventure program. We ask that parents read the form below and ask any questions before allowing or denying participation in the study.

Climate and Living Outdoors

The right equipment and clothing will make your Deer Hill experience more comfortable and enjoyable. Deer Hill programs travel in two very different climates of the Colorado Plateau: high desert and alpine. Temperatures in the desert can range from 55º F at night to 105º F during the day. We dress to protect ourselves from the sun and heat. Rain is infrequent, though it may rain hard during brief storms. In the alpine zone of the mountains, temperatures can range from 15º to 80º F in a single 24-hour period. During the summer, brief hail or snowstorms are not uncommon. Even though you may not experience these extremes, you must be prepared for all types of weather.

Synthetics, Cotton and Staying Warm

Synthetics, Cotton and Staying Warm

Please pay close attention to our fabric recommendations. Most fabrics perform equally well when dry. When wet, fabric performance changes dramatically. Cotton fibers absorb moisture, which rob heat from the body. Synthetic and wool fibers repel moisture, maintaining their ability to trap air and heat, even when wet. For these reasons, we wear cotton in the hot desert to help keep us cool. Conversely, in the cool, wet mountains, we wear synthetic and wool. When deciding between wool and synthetics, choose items that are comfortable and lightweight. The sheer number of names of synthetic fabrics (e.g. Capilene, Polypropylene, Synchilla, Polar Tec, fleece, etc.) can be overwhelming. Most of these are nearly identical, but sold under different brand names. Please do not buy polyester/cotton blends, as these are not sufficient.

Where to Find Your Gear

Where to Find Your Gear

Buying Good Quality Gear

You can find quality backcountry equipment at stores that specialize in mountaineering and/or backpacking. Try local shops that carry brand names such as Black Diamond, Patagonia, The North Face and Marmot, or try one of the large retail chains such as REI (Recreational Equipment, Inc.), or EMS (Eastern Mountain Sports). If you are shopping online it is useful to try items on locally to ensure the correct fit.

Renting / Purchasing Gear from Deer Hill

Another option is to rent or purchase your gear and expeditionary clothing from the Deer Hill Outfitting Store. We stock quality items that have been tested over the years at Deer Hill. Our rental program is a convenient option instead of purchasing high-priced gear and clothing in retail stores. Please review the information about the Store provided in the Packing List (below).

The Deer Hill Outfitting Store

The Deer Hill Outfitting Store

The Deer Hill Outfitting Store plays an important role in the comfort and safety of our participants. We research each item thoroughly and carefully select gear based on function and value from The North Face, Helly Hansen, Sierra Designs, and others. We stock enough clothing and gear to meet every participant’s needs. There is no need for you to reserve clothing and gear from us in advance.

How the Store Works

You will begin the program with a $300 Store Account deposit. Parents, the Store Account deposit will be included in your final tuition payment billing. The amount of this deposit that participants spend at Deer Hill will depend on his/her needs and what you decide as a family.

As part of program preparation, each participant will go through their clothing and equipment with one of their leaders. The leaders have a list of necessary items for each expedition of a Deer Hill program. If a participant is missing an item or what he/she brought is determined to be inadequate, the leader will then require that the appropriate item is rented or bought from the Store. In this case of substituting for an item brought from home, we will add this expense to your Store Account. We are sensitive to the additional cost that this will entail but we are going to do what we feel is necessary to safely assure that each participant goes into the wilderness properly outfitted.

At the end of your program, your Store Accounts will be reconciled. We mail home a copy of your son’s/daughter’s Account Record, along with a refund check or a balance due notice.

Items Available in the Store

The items available through our store are noted on the Packing List and Store Price List. We offer a rental program for the larger, more expensive items such as sleeping bags, backpacks, rain and cold-weather gear. Our rental prices are based on the initial cost of the item, the amount of use each item receives, and laundering and repair costs. Our purchase prices are consistently below those suggested by the manufacturers. Instead of purchasing gear or clothing that may not be used frequently, become stained, or be outgrown within a year or two, you can save up to 50% off retail prices by purchasing gear which has been used. We will not sell any gear that we feel is not in good condition.

How to Best Utilize the Store

Our staff does its best to outfit everyone properly, at the most reasonable cost. When you read your program Packing List, please notice that many items are indicated as being optional. These are items that are great to have and are useful in the out-of-doors, but are not mandatory. Items that are not indicated as being optional are required. You must bring these items with you or you will need to acquire them here. We advise you to review the Packing List carefully as a family, so that you and your son/daughter are in agreement on what can be spent on optional items. You are responsible for all Store charges that exceed your Store Account deposit.

Parents: please discuss with your son/daughter the effects of peer pressure on spending habits. Some participants are told to purchase anything they want. Others are told to stick to the minimum. Help us by making your son/daughter aware of his/her personal needs and spending limits.

We encourage you to bring as many of the items on the Packing List as you wish, but please do not underestimate the savings and convenience of the Deer Hill Outfitting Store. It is common for families to spend a lot of money purchasing gear that they may not use very often, or worse, is not even appropriate. You may already own much of this gear or just wish to equip yourself at home. That’s fine. If you do decide to buy your own gear, we ask that you please follow our guidelines as closely as possible.

If you have questions about the Store, Store Account, or purchasing your own gear, please call us: 970-533-7492.

Hiking Boots

Hiking Boots

Your most important piece of equipment is your boots. Many foot problems (blisters, cold feet, etc.) can be avoided by purchasing properly fitted footwear. Consider this as an investment in your comfort. Please take time and care when buying your boots. You will wear them almost every day, therefore the fit and function will have a significant impact on the quality of your experience. Our information on fitting is relatively universal. Take this information with you when you go to buy your boots.

Southwest Journey

Your boots will need to support you while hiking through loose gravel, scree, mud, small streams, and tall, wet grass. You want a boot that gives you plenty of support, and is comfortable and versatile, so you can use it as a work boot during your service projects. The best choice is a sturdy, medium-weight, ankle-high hiking boot. Many leather/fabric combinations work well. Please remember that “tennis shoes”, sneakers or low top shoes do not offer enough support for hiking and will not be satisfactory for this program.

All Other Programs: River and Mountain Adventure, Canyon Country, Heart of the Rockies, and Wilderness Leadership.

Your boots will need to support you while carrying a backpack through terrain such as desert canyons, loose gravel, snow, scree, mud, small streams, and tall, wet grass. The best choice is a boot specifically designed for backpacking: a sturdy, medium-weight, ankle-high boot that is either all leather or leather/fabric combined, as long as they are solid, have a stiff sole, and are made for backpacking (mere hiking boots do not work). The thickness of the leather and the stiffness of the sole determine a boot’s stability and support. To test this, grab the boot by its heel and toe box. Try to bend and twist the sole. If you can fold the boot nearly in half or rotate it as you could a sneaker, it is too flimsy. Look for a ‘Vibram’ sole or the equivalent.

We recommend the following brands of backpacking boots (or brands of comparable quality and design): Asolo, Salomon, Zamberlan, Merrell, Scarpa, La Sportiva, Lowa, Vasque, Montrail. Please do not buy “running-style” boots, such as those made by Nike, Hi-Tec, and Adidas.

Fitting your boots

Fit is more important than the brand or how much a boot is broken in.

Start with a boot a 1/2 size larger than your normal shoe size, fitting the boot to your larger foot. Feet swell during the day, so, if possible, it is best to shop in the afternoon.

Without socks, or with just a liner sock, slide your foot forward into an unlaced boot until your toes contact the front of the boot. Stand up and lean slightly forward. You should be able to slide your finger between the back of the boot and your heel. If you cannot do this, the boot is too small.

Now try the boots on with a pair of hiking socks. Lace them snugly, but not too tightly. Walk around a little. You should not feel spots that rub or irritate you. If you do, these spots might turn into blisters after a few hours of hiking. Your heel should lift up slightly (not sloppily) and your toes should have room to wiggle. Your boots need to fit with one pair of wool socks and a pair of liner socks. This is how you will wear them in the backcountry. Some people prefer the added comfort of two pairs of wool socks. If so, make sure your boots are roomy enough to be worn in this manner.

To double check the length, kick the boot against a wall or walk down the store’s incline ramp. Your toes should have some “wiggle room.” Try different brands. Their internal shapes vary considerably and some brands will feel more comfortable than others. Be sure that your boots are not too small.

Once you have purchased your boots, wear them as much as possible before arriving here. It is best if you can break-in your boots at home, or on short hikes, before hiking in them while wearing a pack.



Deer Hill uses and recommends internal frame backpacks. Most participants rent their backpack from Deer Hill, using their program as an opportunity to try out a backpack in actual field conditions. Some buy a backpack at home at a later date with the knowledge they have gained here. The Deer Hill Store carries packs by Lowe Alpine and Osprey Packs. These packs are easily adjustable to fit a wide range of body sizes and shapes.

If you buy an internal frame pack, it should have a capacity of at least 5000 cubic inches or 85 Liters. We recommend that it have side and top pockets. Packs must have padded shoulder straps and a padded hip belt. Your pack must fit you well. Some packs come in sizes, while others are adjustable. Should you purchase a pack, be sure the salesperson takes the time to properly fit the pack to your back.

Sleeping Bags

Sleeping Bags

Deer Hill travels in two very different environments: hot canyons and cool mountains. For maximum comfort, programs that have River, Canyon, Native American service and mountain components use two different types of sleeping bags. A “canyon bag” is a lightweight, synthetic bag with about 20 oz. of fill. It should be rated warm to 45º F or a little cooler.

A “mountain bag” is a heavyweight, synthetic, mummy bag with approximately 46 oz. of fill. It should be rated warm to at least 0º F. (Canyon Country needs only a “canyon bag.” Heart of the Rockies needs only a “mountain bag.” All other programs will need both “mountain” & “canyon” bags.)

Deer Hill has sleeping bags for rent for both temperature ranges. Rental cost for our sleeping bags is $5/night, with a maximum of $90. Some participants bring their own bag, some bring one of the two bags and rent the other from us, and some rent both a canyon bag and mountain bag.

Advice for Buying a Sleeping Bag

If you are going to buy a sleeping bag, please buy a bag comparable in weight and design to what we provide. For safety, we want all participants to use synthetic-filled sleeping bags (e.g. Primaloft, Climashield, Thermic Micro) instead of down, which will not keep participants warm if wet. Since most of our programs go into the mountains, where rain is likely, synthetic-filled bags best assure that everyone will sleep warmly. Cotton is not an option.

Other Considerations

Be sure your mountain sleeping bag is a “mummy bag” with a hood that goes around your head.

The weight of your bag is important. A reasonable total weight for a synthetic 0-degree bag is 4-4.5 pounds.

How easily is the bag compressed and how big is it once it is in its stuff sack? You do not want a huge, heavy, bulky bag that is difficult to get into a backpack. You will need a compression stuff sack.

Rain Gear

Rain Gear

The outdoor clothing industry has varying ideas of what is waterproof. Many lightweight, coated nylons do not keep out the rain. If you are buying your own rain gear, make sure both jacket and pants are 100% waterproof (water repellent isn’t good enough.) “Waterproof and breathable” fabrics (such as Gortex) are comfortable to hike in because they “breathe” out the body’s moisture. However, they are more expensive and sometimes soak through in heavy rains.

Rain Jacket Recommendations

All rain jackets must have a hood and come down below the waist.

We recommend multi-layered (2-layer or 3-layer) nylon rain jackets. They work quite well and are less expensive than Gortex. The multi-layered system often includes:

  • An exterior of waterproof/coated nylon
  • An internal lining of polyurethane or equivalent
  • Another inner mesh layer, frequently taffeta
  • Underarm zippers (pit zips) for added ventilation (This is probably the most important feature to prevent excessive sweating. We have found that Gortex jackets without pit zips do not work as well as a nylon jacket with pit zips.)

Make sure your rain jacket is large enough to be worn over several layers of insulating clothing.

Ponchos are not allowed. They do not work well in windy, mountain storms.

Rain Pants Recommendations

Some rain pants are also multi-layered. An exterior shell of waterproof, coated nylon with an internal polyurethane layer works well and is lightweight.

A zippered cuff is nice to have so you can put your rain pants on over your hiking boots. (Otherwise, you will have to take your boots off to put your rain pants on. Not fun during a rainstorm!)

Be sure your rain pants are large enough to be worn over your insulating pants.

Understanding the Packing List

Understanding the Packing List

Please bring only the items that are on the packing list. Except for a few personal items or extra toiletries, you will not need more than what is listed. You will not change clothes every day. In fact, for a given expedition or project you will carry only the necessary clothing for that environment. The remainder of your clothing and any extra items will be stored at Basecamp for the duration of your program or until you need it for another environment. Additionally:

  • All personal clothing and gear should be labeled with the participant’s name.
  • Pack lightly. Choose items that are lightweight and compact.
  • Keep in mind that service work and wilderness living are hard on clothing. The clothes you bring to Deer Hill will receive rough treatment and may become torn or permanently stained.

We have designed the Packing List to help you select the appropriate gear for your program. Items available for purchase or rental at the Deer Hill Store are indicated as such in the Packing List. The Packing List also contains information about each item to assist you if you decide to shop on your own. For the most expensive/complicated items, we have included more detailed shopping guidelines in the sections above.

Packing List and Deer Hill Store Pricelist

Canyon Country

Each expedition with Deer Hill is unique and requires specific clothing and gear for safety and comfort. It is imperative that every participant read the packing and price list for her or his program and bring, or acquire from the Deer Hill Store, all required items.

Preparing for Your Program

Preparing for Your Program

Preparing for Your Program

Mental Preparation

It is normal for participants to have a mixture of emotions gearing up for a Deer Hill program; these places, people, and experiences may all be unfamiliar. Traveling into the wilderness for the first time is a remarkable experience, and Deer Hill has guided thousands of first timers over the years. We support participants wholeheartedly and encourage adventurous attitudes. Every year when staff leaders arrive at basecamp in Mancos, Colorado for training they’re reminded of our 35 year old mantra “Safety, Fun, Learning”: when participants feel safe, they have fun, and if they’re having fun, learning will come naturally! To get the most out of a Deer Hill program, participants need to prepare themselves to act responsibly, have fun, and try new things.

Physical Fitness

Participants do not have to be star athletes to succeed at Deer Hill. However, our programs are very active, and at times physically challenging so we encourage participants to prepare accordingly. The experience will be more enjoyable, especially at the beginning of the program, with rest, good fitness and mental preparation to live outdoors. Physical conditioning should begin at least three months prior to a Deer Hill Program. This can include walking, jogging, running, swimming or riding a bike for at least an hour 4-5 times a week. This will improve aerobic fitness dramatically. In addition, regular resistance training, such as lifting weights, going to a climbing gym, and/or yoga, will help strengthen balance and physical confidence. Consult a trainer, take a class, or talk to your doctor before starting a resistance-training program.  Participants on Canyon Country, Heart of the Rockies, and Wilderness Leadership need to follow these recommendations as they are the most physically challenging and require a high level of fitness to be successful.

Acclimation and Rest

Coming from sea level (as most participants do) to the Colorado Plateau (Basecamp is located at 7,000 feet above sea level) participants will notice and feel the high elevation and dry climate on their first day. It is recommended to rest and relax for a couple of days prior to your program start date. Arriving with a rested and replenished body will aid in adapting to the high altitude more quickly. Drinking water while you travel and on your first days at Deer Hill is very important for successful acclimation.

The Beginning of Your Program

The Beginning of Your Program

After meeting field leaders, fellow participants and some of the Basecamp staff, immediate needs can be taken care of. While waiting for others to arrive, there is the opportunity to play volleyball or go for a swim in the pond.

When the entire group has arrived, there will be a tour of Basecamp and some “icebreaker” activities to get to know one another. After a home-cooked welcome dinner in the Dining Hall, the group will participate in their first “Circle”, an informal meeting that is tradition at Deer Hill. This will include a discussion of expectations, safety issues and ground rules for life around Deer Hill.

On the morning of Day 2 there will be a conversation about the structure of the program and what to expect. Afterwards, participants begin packing for the first section of the expedition. Guided by leaders, participants will gather the appropriate food, clothing and gear. This includes separating clothes and items that are needed in the backcountry from those that are not. Our Outfitting Store will be available for any necessary gear that participants need to rent or purchase. Our staff will help with the selection and sizing of these items to ensure proper preparation. Any superfluous and unnecessary items will be stored with luggage and kept in a secure location here at Basecamp while the program is running.


Spending Money

It is recommended to bring a small amount of spending money. This should be in the form of either cash or traveler’s check. ATM cards are fine for airport travel days, but there will be no access to an ATM while with Deer Hill. A total of $75-$100 is PLENTY for airport days, gifts souvenirs and additional toiletries. The store account funds are not for use as spending money.

Return Travel Money

Be sure participants have money to cover any airline fees that are assessed at the gate for the return flight (i.e. baggage, unaccompanied minor services, etc.) These fees vary considerably from one airline to another. It’s encouraged to check with the airline to estimate an appropriate amount of money to help cover these contingencies, and to pack this money separately from spending money.

Communication with Family and Friends from Home


Phone Calls Home

Traveling to and from Basecamp with personal electronic devices (phones, tablets, etc.) is recommenced. Upon arrival, cell phones will be stored and secured with luggage because they are not allowed on programs. Cell phones do not work at our Basecamp or in most of the remote areas in which we travel. Leaders carry satellite phones for use in emergencies only.

Once in Durango participants will call parents to let them know that all is well. Participants without a cell phone are able to use the Deer Hill phone at Basecamp. At the end of the program, if there have been any sudden travel changes, parents will be called in order to confirm. Parents: Please contact Deer Hill Basecamp if there have been any changes that you are aware of. Otherwise, plan on seeing your child when he/she gets off the plane at the airport.

Please do not call participants at Basecamp unless there is an emergency. This can be difficult for parents at times, but this approach is based on nearly three decades of caring for teenage participants, our respect for their journey towards growth and independence, and our understanding of group dynamics. If there is an emergency at home, parents should contact us at 970.533.7492. If your son or daughter is having any problems at all, be assured that you will hear from us. Otherwise, please follow the rule that “no news is good news”.


We know that parents and families want to hear from participants, so we strongly encourage (but do not force) them to send letters and postcards during transitions in the itinerary – typically, at the end of the first and second weeks of the program. We also hope that parents, family members and friends will send mail to participants while they are at Deer Hill. Please allow several days for mail and packages to arrive in rural southwest Colorado.

Please mail letters and cards to:

(Participant’s Name and Program)
c/o Deer Hill Expeditions
PO Box 180
Mancos, CO 81328

Care Packages

We ask that family and friends do not send food. It is best for group dynamics that no one receives this special attention. We have plenty of delicious treats and snacks available here. Nobody goes hungry on a Deer Hill program!

If you need to ship packages, such as a box of gear or clothes for the trip, and wish to use a private shipping service such as UPS or FedEx, please ship to:

(Participant’s Name and Program)
c/o Deer Hill Expeditions
7850 Rd 41
Mancos, CO 81328

Program Updates

We are in communication with the leaders throughout the program. Parents will receive at least one “Report From the Field” by email from the Deer Hill office. We will write a summary of how the trip is going and try to include a photo of the group. It is important to set your SPAM filters to receive Deer Hill emails. Ensure that you receive emails from these addresses by adding them to your address book in your email program:

Refunds and Refund Insurance

Refunds and Tuition Refund Insurance

Tuition Refund Insurance

Sobelutions offers Tuition Refund insurance for families whose child is attending summer camp or a wilderness expedition like Deer Hill Expeditions. This is different than travel insurance, which is discussed in the Travel Information section of this document. If you are interested in this coverage, please visit their website at

*Deer Hill Expeditions is not affiliated with Travmark or Sobelutions in any way.


Refund guidelines and procedures are explain in the Terms of Agreement; please refer to this document if you have questions. If your questions persist, please call us at 970-533-7492.

Traveling to Deer Hill

General Information

General Travel Information

Participants should carry the Deer Hill number with them (970.533.7492) and notify us of any changes or delays during travel. At the Durango airport please proceed to the baggage claim (there is only one). A Deer Hill leader will be waiting there wearing either a Deer Hill t-shirt or cap. It may be necessary to wait at the airport with a leader for up to an hour for the next incoming flight. If there are no participants on the next flight, the group will head directly to Basecamp. This is a beautiful 45-minute drive through the mountains into the Mancos Valley. Leaders and other fellow participants will be at Basecamp upon arrival.

If parents are driving their son or daughter to the Deer Hill Basecamp, please contact the office and we will send additional information. An estimated time of arrival will be helpful so someone can greet you.

Getting to Deer Hill

All programs begin and end at our Basecamp near Mancos, CO. You may drive here or fly into Durango, CO (DRO), the nearest airport. There are no other airports within a three-hour radius of Deer Hill Basecamp.

Arrival and Departure Days

Please arrive on the first day of the program, between 12pm and 6pm, and depart on the last day, between 8:30am and 2pm. These days are set as participant travel days.

Travel by Car

Travel by Car

If you will be driving to Basecamp, you will find a map and directions on the ‘Getting to Deer Hill’ page of our website. Please arrive between noon and 4:00 pm. Pick up time on the final day of the program should be between 9:00 am and noon.

Travel by Plane

Travel by Plane

We provide this information, based on our experiences, to assist you in your planning. Please know that we cannot arrange your travel, and are not responsible for participants arriving by plane until we meet them at the Durango airport. While Deer Hill administrative staff will be available while your child is traveling, if there are issues with flights before arrival or after departure from Durango, a parent must contact the airlines to work out arrangements and then notify Deer Hill of changes to flight times.

The Durango La Plata Airport (DRO) is very small with only a few incoming and outgoing flights each day:

  • United flies through Denver
  • American Airlines flies through Dallas/Fort Worth and Phoenix

If possible, use one of these airlines as your primary carrier as it will make connections easier.

Please arrange flights so that your child arrives in Durango between the hours of noon and 6:00 pm on the first day of the program. Departures should be between 8:30 am and 2:00 pm on the last day of the program. If you cannot schedule your son’s/daughter’s flights within two hours of the above guidelines, please call the Admissions office before booking your flights. Any arrival or departure that does not coincide with these schedules may result in additional transportation costs.

Some airlines have policies prohibiting children on the last flight out of the day. Others strongly recommend against it. This is so the child will not have to wait overnight. Some airlines will not allow minors to change planes or carriers. They will not necessarily tell you this unless you ask. Please check before booking your child’s flight.

Prior to traveling to Deer Hill

Please keep track of changes in flight numbers and/or flight times and contact the office immediately if anything is altered. This happens frequently so it is imperative that we are kept abreast of any and all updates. This is more likely to happen as your travel date nears. We also ask that you provide your confirmation code, this will allow us to check the status of your child’s flight.

IMPORTANT: When you are booking flights for your child, be sure to tell the airlines that your child is traveling alone and ask about their policies. Many airlines have restrictions around flights for Unaccompanied Minors. Your child may also receive special consideration if his/her flight is overbooked or cancelled.

Unaccompanied Minors

Many of the airlines that fly into Durango provide Unaccompanied Minor services. Their policies are listed on their websites. Requirements vary greatly from airline to airline, so please check carefully before booking your child’s flight. If possible, make arrangements for your Unaccompanied Minor in advance for flights in both directions.

Unaccompanied Minor Information:

Often, parents whose children are not experienced with airline travel choose to have their child fly to Deer Hill as an Unaccompanied Minor, but not on their return trip. When participants fly out on the last day, there is often more than one fellow traveler from their program on the same flight, making it easier for your child to travel without an escort.

If your child is traveling to Deer Hill as an Unaccompanied Minor, please contact our office as soon as you make your reservation to coordinate whom the pickup person at the Durango Airport will be. This will be a Deer Hill staff member, but most airlines require a specific name. We need to know in advance so that you can tell the airline and/or your child who will be picking them up, and also for our shuttle planning.

If your child is flying home as an Unaccompanied Minor, you will need to contact the office to find out the name of the person taking him/her to the airport from Deer Hill and then notify the airlines. Please arrange payment for this service through the airlines in advance.

Beginning of Program Travel Day

While traveling, please make sure that the Deer Hill phone number, 970.533.7492, is in your child’s phone if he/she will be carrying a cell phone. If your child does not have a cell phone, we urge you to purchase a long distance phone card for him/her. In case of a travel delay, please contact the Deer Hill office immediately. Also, call your parents to keep them updated. This is especially important for international travelers, as there are very often several connections that may be missed if one flight is delayed. If arrangements to accommodate these delays need to be made – it is the responsibility of the parent.

Participants should also travel with a carry-on bag that contains any important or valuable items (camera, medications, etc.) as well as a change of clothes, in case his/her baggage is delayed.

Deer Hill leaders will meet your child at the baggage carousel (there is only one) at the Durango Airport at the beginning of his/her program. S/he will be wearing a Deer Hill hat or t-shirt. If your child’s flight into Durango is delayed or your child is “bumped” onto the next incoming flight, our leaders will wait at the airport until s/he does arrive. Most likely, there will be other program participants on your child’s flight.

End of Program Travel Day

A Deer Hill leader will take your child to the Durango Airport on the last day of the program in plenty of time to check-in and catch their flight. When our leader takes the participants to the airport he/she will assist your child with check-in and accompany all of the participants to the security checkpoint. If there are delays with your child’s flight out of Durango, our leader will remain at the airport until the flight is ready to begin boarding.


Please also check with the airline to find out if your child will need identification to travel alone. Typically, a photo ID is not required for children under 17, though a social security card, passport or birth certificate can expedite the check-in process. Without ID, your son or daughter may be asked to participate in additional screening. The TSA and FAA websites have additional information is available on the TSA site and at

Checked Baggage

All airlines now have policies and fares for checking baggage. Again, please contact your carrier regarding their fees and paying for your child’s checked luggage in advance, for flights in both directions. Some airlines do not allow you to pay for luggage online so your child must have cash to pay for this. Others will allow you to pay for your child’s luggage online but your child will not have a receipt that may be necessary. Please look into this before your child leaves home for Deer Hill so all necessary arrangements can be made.

DHE store funds will NOT be available to cover baggage or Unaccompanied Minor costs. If you will not be paying for these in advance, make sure to send your child with enough cash for baggage fees on the return leg.

Boarding Passes

Most parents choose to confirm their child’s flight out of Durango online the night before departure. When confirming the reservation, please arrange to have the boarding pass picked up by your child at the airport, not emailed to the Deer Hill office. Although there is always someone available at Deer Hill for emergencies, we cannot guarantee that a staff member will be available to print the pass and distribute it to your child.

Return Travel Money

Be sure your son or daughter has money to cover any airline fees that are assessed at the gate for the return flight (i.e. baggage, unaccompanied minor services, etc.) These fees vary considerably from one airline to another. We encourage you to check with your airline to estimate an appropriate amount of money to help cover these contingencies, and to pack this money separately from your son or daughter’s spending money.

Travel Insurance

If you would like to obtain travel insurance for your child’s program, there are many different packages available. Deer Hill has no affiliations with any travel insurance company. The following companies offer insurance:

  • Travel Guard 800.826.4919
  • CSA Travel Protection 800.711.1197
  • Travel Insured 800.243.3174
  • Allianz 866.884.3556
  • Travelex 800.228.9792

As a Licensed Child Care Facility in the State of Colorado, Deer Hill provides all parents and guardians with the following information:

  • To report child abuse/neglect, call 1-844-CO-4-KIDS or 911
  • To report a child care licensing complaint, contact the Office of Early Childhood at 1-303-866-5948 or at 1575 Sherman Street, Denver, Colorado 80203.

Deer Hill has been a major part of my life, even though it has only been two summers. I always remember the leaders and the spectacular views in the mountains. I always cherish the memories made and the life lessons learned. At Deer Hill I have matured far beyond what I was when I first showed up.

Alex, participant