Skip Yowell Award Winner

We are excited to announce the 2014 BCM Skip Yowell Award recipient.

BCM acknowledges that we would not exist without all of the dedicated volunteers we have hadover the years. Volunteers are such an important part of our organization that we recognize one volunteer a year with the Skip Yowell award.  Skip Yowell is the co-founder of JanSport and is one of BCM’s Board Members. Skip Yowell has been an integral part of Big City Mountaineers’ history and without his continued support, BCM might not have grown into what it is today.

The Skip Yowell Award winner is given to a volunteer who embodies the spirit of SkipYowell through exceptional service and commitment to helping Big City Mountaineers fulfill its mission of enhancing the lives of under-resourced teens.  Garrett Dempsey has been selected as the 2014 Skip Yowell Award recipient.  We have a small thank you gift for him.  He will also be featured in our newsletters and his name will go up on our Awards plaque in the office.

Skip Yowell is a cofounder of JanSport and an icon in the outdoor industry.  If you’ve carried a frameless backpack or slept in a free-standing tent, you benefited from some of Skip’s innovations.  In addition to many product innovations, Skip has spent decades giving back to a multitude of non-profits.  Skip has been a pivotal figure for BCM, serving on our board for over 10 years and proudly promoting our organization at every event or meeting where he has an audience.  The majority of outdoor industry companies that support BCM today can be traced back to an introduction, a phone call, an email or similar solicitation Skip has made on BCM’s behalf.  In Skip’s own words from his book, The Hippie Guide to Climbing the Corporate Ladder & Other Mountains, “Why am I so big on giving back?  There’s a certain personal satisfaction and joy that comes from nurturing a generous spirit, or put another way, an attitude of gratitude”  BCM’s volunteer award is named in Skip’s honor – for a life of giving and gratitude that is an example to us all.

Garrett Dempsey is an icon for outdoor related volunteerism at BCM and beyond.  In 2011, he attended the California BCM Volunteer Information Session.  Since that day, he has been on four BCM expeditions, one of which survived his move from California to SE Michigan just last year.  His new home in SE Michigan barely fell within the BCM requirement for volunteers to reside within 200 miles of a BCM regional city.  He met this requirement, yet 200 miles one way is still a long way to travel to be a volunteer.  Despite this distance, Garrett attended all events in Chicago, including adult training, post-trip celebration, canoe training, overnight, and, of course, the expedition.  Garrett has also been an BCM volunteer ambassador attending conferences, booths, BCM information sessions, etc. to share his experience and inspiring others to get involved with BCM.  Beyond BCM, Garrett works professional to connect people of all walks of life to the outdoors.

When asked to share his favorite thing about BCM, he replied, “My vocation is connecting people, particularly urban youth, with outdoor experiences. BCM creates incredible opportunities for young people to learn from wilderness challenges. Bearing witness to these experiences and helping shape the expeditions is what I love most about BCM. To put it another way, in wilderness all the secrets and mysteries of the world are laid out for us to ponder and puzzle. It is both a looking glass and a mirror. As a BCM volunteer, I get to mentor teenagers in some of their first encounters with wilderness. For them, it can be like a baptism, and for the entire expedition it is a shared journey into the outdoors full of challenges, triumphs, and lessons. The small role I play as a mentor for the teens is a humbling privilege and an absolute joy.”

Garrett, thank you for inspiring us all, for your dedication and passion to the BCM mission, and for your boundless volunteerism both at BCM and beyond.


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