2019 Summer Recap

As the weather begins to change, we wave goodbye to another successful BYEP Summer season! Despite a wetter than normal summer filled with late-afternoon thunderstorms, amazing teens from the Gallatin Valley spent over 13,000 hours exploring all Montana has to offer. Summer 2019 programming consisted of 12 weeks of workshops and 10 adventures from mid-May through mid-August for participants entering grades 9-12. 113 participants, 40 mentors, and 4 BYEP Program Managers engaged in small group activities during weeknights and ventured out on Sundays into the community. Summer adventures mainly focused on exploring nature and challenging ourselves with whitewater rafting, hiking, challenge courses, equine learning, astronomy and more. Adventures through BYEP gave participants the chance to connect with their group on a different level, learn a new skill, build self-confidence, and connect with nature.


Ella makes a new friend with her partner from Windhorse Equine Learning.

9th Grade

Session 2: This session in the Approach Program was designed for participants moving into their freshman year of high school. The overall goal of this session was to empower participants to think about healthy decision making. Our hope was to prepare participants for the social-emotional challenges that high school will bring. In this session, participants dove into topics such as substance use, sexual health, identity, self-esteem, and responsibility. We also built on the previous themes of teamwork, group norming and fun as a way to strengthen group dynamics and transition smoothly into more difficult concepts and topics. Overarching all these important concepts was our desire for participants to cultivate a relationship with the natural world and explore the beauty of Gallatin Valley. Participants completing Session 2 are more prepared to face the challenges they will encounter in a new school environment and will be knowledgeable about available support networks.

Goals of the Session

  1. Group cohesion

  2. Preparation for the high school transition

  3. Tools for healthy decision making

10th Grade

Session 5: This session was the second to last session in the Approach Program designed for participants moving into their sophomore year of high school. The overall goal of this session was to consider themes of mindfulness and wellness in relation to our connection with nature. Mindfulness ties to issues of group dynamics, self-reflection and community, both in relation to people and the natural world. In consideration of wellness, we looked at physical and mental health, as well as the health and functioning of our group. We also had a strong focus on wellness as it relates to each of our individual connections to the natural world.

Goals of the Session

  1. Mindfulness in connection to nature

  2. Mind and body wellness

  3. Healthy coping strategies

Kit is on top of the world in the Gallatin Canyon.

Kit is on top of the world in the Gallatin Canyon.

Wren getting a close-up view of the moon with  In Focus Astronomy

Wren getting a close-up view of the moon with In Focus Astronomy

11th Grade

Session 8: This session, participants entered their first CRUX summer at BYEP. Our goal was to empower group members to gain a greater awareness of how to cultivate growth within themselves, others, their community, and nature. Participants had the opportunity to go whitewater rafting on the Gallatin River, try their hand at acro yoga, and expand their lens through exploring astronomy in the night sky. Through these components, participants engaged in Session 8 gained an understanding of how to fully connect with nature, what it means to be a part of a larger community, dig deeper into their identity, and expand their confidence through adventure challenges. By the end of the season participants felt a sense of growth, identity and connection with nature.

Goals of the session

  1. Community growth

  2. Human-nature reciprocity

  3. External versus internal growth

12th Grade

Session 11: This session participants transitioned from 11th grade to their final year in high school. Highlighted topics this season included human-nature reciprocity, commitment, grit, and gratitude. Many adolescents in this age bracket have a long-standing relationship with BYEP and have a strong ability to self-assess needs and goals. BYEP continued to stand as a community, to guide and empower participants’ transition into independence and adulthood. To end the Summer Session, 12-grade groups had the opportunity to participate in an overnight rafting trip and ceremony. This overnight was a journey of reflection and celebration of participants’ time in BYEP. Youth in Session 11 gained a greater understanding of their strengths and how to share them in their community and in life after BYEP.

Goals of the Session

  1. Self esteem and confidence

  2. Commitment

  3. Grit

Longtime BYEPer Luz takes a mountain biking spin near Ousel Falls in Big Sky.

Longtime BYEPer Luz takes a mountain biking spin near Ousel Falls in Big Sky.