Mountains and Service 

Mountain Backpacking and Cross-Cultural Service Project

This expedition includes:

  • Mountain backpacking
  • Peak ascents
  • Native American service project

The Soulquest series was designed exclusively for Summer Search in order to support you in reaching your life’s goals. You’ll discover unknown aspects of yourself as you summit 13,000-foot peaks on a backpacking trip in the mountains of Colorado before immersing yourself in a cross-cultural community service project.

“Deer Hill holds a unique and irreplaceable spot in my heart. It feels like a second home.” – Laura, participant

Arrive at Basecamp

Days 1-3
Participants arrive at Basecamp throughout the first afternoon. Their expedition leaders help them become acquainted with Deer Hill, as participants meet each other and the group begins to form. In addition to playing games, and eating home-cooked meals, the group will pack group and personal gear for the first part of their trip.

Mountain Backpacking

Days 3-11
Your expedition begins with three days of preparation and acclimation in the foothills. Your group will set up a basecamp and get comfortable cooking on backcountry stoves, treating drinking water, taking day hikes, and getting ready for multi-day backpacking trip. From here, you’ll pack up your food, clothing and gear, and set off through the quaking aspen, subalpine spruce and fir, and alpine meadows peppered with wildflowers of myriad shapes and colors that make the San Juan Mountains one of Colorado’s most special places. Learn how to stay safe and warm in unpredictable mountain weather. Challenge yourself when the hike gets hard, and discover the joy of accomplishment as the day’s first light falls on you from the summit of a 13,000-foot mountain.

Native American Service

Days 12-18
Service projects have you working alongside Hopi, Navajo or Zuni families on meaningful projects that they have proposed. Host families share cultural knowledge, stories, and arts with Deer Hill participants.Your service project might be to herd sheep on a high mesa top, or to help build a shade arbor with your host family. When the day’s work is done, gather round to hear traditional stories and learn about your hosts’ culture.

Return to Basecamp

Days 18-20
Participants return to Basecamp for program closure. The group cleans equipment and returns it to its storage locations at Basecamp, and returns any rental items to the Deer Hill Store. The group holds a closing ceremony to conclude their experience, and enjoys a cookout and slideshow on the final evening. On the last day of the program, expedition leaders drive participants to the Durango airport to return home.

High School Sophomores*

Mountains and Service

July 23 – August 11, 2020

20 Days

44 Service Hours


*For questions, call us at 970.533.7492.

Start and End at Basecamp

The expedition is bookended with time at Deer Hill’s Basecamp in Mancos, CO. From Days 1 to 3, participants get to know each other as they pack group and personal gear for their time in the mountains. At the end of their expedition, the group returns to Basecamp (Days 18-20) for hot showers and home-cooked meals. The final full day will include a closing ceremony and celebration with a cookout and slideshow.

Transitions between sections occur in the field. The group is at Basecamp only at the beginning and end of the expedition, and for a transition between the backpacking and service sections.

Arrival and Departure:

Durango Airport (DRO)

Arrive July 23, 12-6pm; Depart August 11, 8:30am-2pm

Travel Information



This trip has given me a sense of growth (physically and mentally), belonging, and purpose in life. It opened my mind to the endless possibilities of things I could do and the things I have never dreamt of doing.

Hannah, participant