Southwest Servicequest

Mountain Basecamp and Service

This expedition includes:

  • Dayhiking from a mountain basecamp
  • Peak ascents
  • Service project in the Navajo Nation
  • Service project in Zuni Pueblo

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 while camping 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 1-3
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 Basecamp

Days 3-6
Your expedition begins with three days of dayhiking and camping in the mountains. Your group will set up a basecamp and cook meals on backcountry stoves, treat water from streams for safe drinking, and 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. If the weather is amenable, you may even wake up early and attempt to summit one of the nearby 13- or 14,000 ft peaks. On your final day you’ll transition to your first service project site.

Service in the Navajo Nation

Days 6-12
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 Zuni Pueblo

Days 12-18
Zuni Pueblo service hosts involve the whole community in welcoming Deer Hill groups. You may help build traditional mud and brick bread ovens, and then use them to bake Zuni bread. Your work in the community garden will show you how the Zuni learned to use water (a rare commodity in the Southwest) most efficiently to grow corn, beans and squash. You may even have a chance to hear the Zuni origin story as you hike to the summit of their sacred mesa, where life in the Zuni tradition began.

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 Juniors*

Southwest Servicequest

July 17 – August 5, 2017

20 Days

100 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 river expedition. At the end of their expedition, the group returns to Basecamp (Days 19-21) 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 17, 12-6pm; Depart August 5, 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