Southwest Leadership

Mountain Basecamp and Cross-Cultural Service

This expedition includes:

  • Dayhiking from a mountain basecamp
  • Conservation Service
  • Leaderhsip Training
  • Service project in the Navajo Nation
  • Service project in Hopi Pueblo

This program was designed exclusively for Summer Search Juniors in order to support you in reaching your life’s goals. You’ll discover unknown aspects of yourself as spend 5 nights in the mountains of Colorado before immersing yourself in 2 distinct cross-cultural community service projects.

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


Arrive at Basecamp

Days 1-2
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 Basecamp at High Camp Hut

Days 3-7
Your expedition begins with five days of dayhiking, conservation service projects, and meaningful conversations while staying in the San Juan Mountains at High Camp Hut. At over 11,000’ the lodge is nestled into 320 acres of privately held land sitting in 2 million acres of San Juan National Forest.Your group will take day hike 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. Together you will complete conservation service projects on the land and participate in leadership training. On your final day you’ll transition to your first service project site.

Service in the Navajo Nation

Days 8-13
Service projects in the Navajo Nation combine real work with real opportunities to learn about Navajo life. Your service project might be to herd sheep amongst the ponderosa pines, to learn traditional dryland agriculture by working in the garden, 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. Many of our Navajo hosts invite extended family and friends to help share stories and arts from their culture.

Service in Hopi Pueblo

Days 14-18
Participants live and work with their Hopi hosts near the oldest continually inhabited town in North America. The Plaza is the center of community life on the Hopi reservation, and has been for many hundreds of years. Participants often help community members plaster and whitewash the Plaza buildings in preparation for community ceremonies, and sometimes have the opportunity to watch these events. Several Hopi hosts that work with Deer Hill are artists who are willing to share their craft with participants in addition to other aspects of their cultural traditions.

Return to Basecamp

Days 19-20
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 Juniors*

Southwest Leadership

July 25 – August 13, 2020

20 Days

90 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 2, participants get to know each other as they pack group and personal gear for their mountain basecamp. At the end of their expedition, the group returns to Basecamp (Days 19-20) 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.

Arrival and Departure:

Durango Airport (DRO) or

Deer Hill Basecamp, Mancos, Colorado.

Arrive July 25, 12-6pm; Depart August 13, 8:30am-2pm

Travel Information



I have been doing similar outdoor adventure trips for the past five summers, but I have never experienced anything like I have this summer at Deer Hill.

Lily, participant