City Kids Wilderness Project’s mission is to build resiliency, broaden horizons, cultivate community, and develop skills for success in DC youth through a long-term, cohort-based model that utilizes both the wilderness and urban environment to encourage growth. City Kids aims to inspire youth to use their personal power to shape the future of their own lives and change in the greater community.


A world where individuals, communities, and systems evolve to create a bright, inclusive, and just future for all youth. A community of cohesion and allyship where youth have the support they need to develop into confident young adults who are aware of their personal power.

“You looked after my son with the care and compassion of a family member and will forever be part of our family. You brought my son home safely. You helped him grow physically and mentally and provided him with opportunities to create core memories which will shape his world view beyond the concrete sidewalks and brick buildings that framed his perception of life.”


Taj, Elite Camper, Wind River Range

“You looked after my son with the care and compassion of a family member and will forever be part of our family. You brought my son home safely. You helped him grow physically and mentally and provided him with opportunities to create core memories which will shape his world view beyond the concrete sidewalks and brick buildings that framed his perception of life.”




    City Kids’ Core Values are the principals we use to guide our work. From our programming to making decisions for the future of the organization, these five values are incorporated into everything we do.

  • JOY


    We honor the power of play and presence of magic created through community and outdoor experiences. Through connection, creativity, belonging, accomplishment, and time spent outdoors, play deepens to joy.



    Harnessing our personal power for growth and change, we put effort towards our visions and take personal responsibility for our commitments. Whether on the trail or in the office, we know that there is satisfaction to be realized when we try hard and explore the bounds of possibility in service to our mission.



    We recognize our interdependence and nurture meaningful relationships of mutual accountability and care. Centering collectivism versus individualism teaches us that finding resolution, honoring needs, and supporting one another keeps our community whole. Relationships extend to the animals, plants, places, and cultures around us and we bring awareness and compassion to those encounters.



    We plan and prepare for the task at hand to set ourselves up for success. This creates clarity and consistency so that those around us feel supported in engaging with new, challenging, and changing experiences.



    People and organizations blossom over time. We encourage evolution by maintaining awareness of change, honoring what works, improving what we can, and letting go of things that no longer serve our community and mission. Through patience, observation, repetition, revision, and long-term commitment, we are witness to the manifestation of this shared vision.

Message from our


Dear Friends,

There is a spot at the City Kids ranch in Jackson Hole, Wyoming – a shed where we store horse tack and supplies. It’s not something we photograph or feature on tours of the ranch, but I like the way it looks – it has old, weathered wood and sits in between a dirt corral and green pastures enveloped by beautiful forestry behind. You can sense its age, but the smell of fresh leather and the sounds of hammering nails reminds me of how long something wonderful can last when thoughtfully cared for.

2021 has been a year of preserving what has historically worked for the organization and recognizing how important it is to incorporate new initiatives that allow them to flourish under our care. As you will see in the following pages, we have doubled down on maintaining and building strong infrastructure to enable consistent high quality programs for City Kids youth. This Annual Report features several initiatives that strengthened our foundation in 2021:

Launched a New Strategic Plan: Prior to City Kids, I worked as a consultant for 14 years. In this role, I facilitated many strategic plans for organizations across the country. When I thought about how to lead City Kids through a strategic planning process, I wanted it to be more than a marketing project, more than a story about how we are pivoting due to the pandemic. I wanted it to clarify our identity. I wanted it to call out bold investments and establish City Kids as a place where people, particularly youth, come to thrive and grow. And, I think we’ve achieved that.

Activated New Core Values: Living our core values is a learning journey of ongoing reflection and improvement to ensure we’re walking the talk. In early 2021, City Kids went through a process of re-examining how we behave in our day to day work. The core value that I’ve embraced the most is “evolution.” I love that we are giving ourselves permission to be aware of change, honor what works, improve what we can, and let go of things that no longer serve our community and mission. And though each of the other four core values is essential, I’m most excited about giving this organization the same freedom to evolve.

Increased Youth Engagement: I have been moved this year by the way we’ve seen teenagers bring a unique vision, perspective, and new set of values to our culture. They are confident in their needs. And at the same time, teenage youth are facing multitudes of crises simultaneously. We have felt the challenges of this dynamic time to work with all youth, increasingly so for youth of color. When you see our youth engagement efforts from 2021, you’ll see our eagerness to show up for youth with the same vigor that they are showing up to this world. I felt the urgency this year to ensure that strong youth engagement is a part of our base, not something we wish for.

Invested in New Partnerships: As an extrovert, partnership building is one of the best parts of my job. I even look forward to speed networking events, not because I love having an evening of 10 minute conversations, but because the possibility of finding initial synergy to explore later excites me. The new partnerships we’ve established in 2021 are fundamental to our growth. And as you might expect from me, I’ve had a strong decision-making filter for how we choose partners. The organizations featured in this report are those that are helping us establish sustainable revenue, sustainable program activities, and sustainable pipelines for program participants. I believe that the partnerships we’ve formed in 2021 are one part of the thoughtful care required for City Kids to continue its high quality programs. With them, we are also poised to experience growth in the years to come.

And, like the shed that captivates me each summer, your continued care and commitment to City Kids has enabled the organization to stand up and strengthen with age. Thank you for celebrating 2021 with us. Thank you for believing in City Kids, in the youth we serve, in the two cities that anchor us.


Sarah Cryder
Executive Director

Sarah Cryder

“2021 has been a year of preserving what has historically worked for the organization and recognizing how important it is to incorporate new initiatives that allow them to flourish under our care.”


Our program is based around three core principles: long-term youth engagement, outdoor adventure and experiential education programming, and goal setting with a focus on future planning. Youth develop a positive self-identity by overcoming challenges, building strong relationships with peers and adult mentors, and exploring personal possibilities.


live in DC’s Wards 5, 7, and 8, historically the most under-invested Wards in the city.


self-identify as African American, 5% self-identify as Latino or Hispanic, and 2% other.


are eligible for free or reduced school lunch.

Rangers at Recreational Habits Polo Clinic photo by Callie Broaddus

City Kids by the Numbers


graduation rate over the last three years.

DC Graduation Rate – 70.9%.


had a mentor who encouraged them to take risks and perform beyond their own expectations.

Studies show that challenging a young person’s growth has been shown to promote resilience, to strengthen their ability to stay focused on achieving their long-term goals, to enhance their academic performance and to increase civic participation.


of participants showed meaningful gains in one or more Social-Emotional Learning outcomes.

SEL Outcomes: self-awareness, self-management, social awareness, relationship skills, and responsible decision-making.

The City Kids Journey

The City Kids journey begins when youth enter the program in the sixth grade and continue through middle school, high school, and beyond. Programming is based on the positive youth development framework, and is carefully structured to provide age and stage appropriate support as youth mature. Each year brings new challenges, opportunities, and excitement as youth gain new skills, and explore the Washington DC area, the wilderness areas of the Mid Atlantic, and participate in summer programming at Broken Arrow Ranch in Jackson, Wyoming and neighboring wild spaces.

Rangers canoeing on Jackson Lake

Ages 11-12


Staff recruit sixth grade youth attending DC public schools. During this applicant period, City Kids is looking for a child’s willingness to try new things; their cohesion with other youth; and a general excitement about the outdoors. Out of the 50+ youth applying to the program, 21 youth are selected.

Ages 11-12

Ranger & Mountaineer

Be Courageous and Compassionate

Beginning with summer camp in Jackson Hole, first year participants broaden their world view by experiencing a new place away from home. As the school year begins, a strong focus on using local, outdoor spaces to set goals, try new things, increase self-knowledge, and appreciate other people and experiences. This prepares youth to apply what they have learned at City Kids inside and outside of school.

Canoeing, backpacking, horseback riding, and whitewater rafting.

Ages 13-14


Be Excellent

In their 3rd year in the program, participants deepen their connection to the outdoors by embarking on longer backcountry trips designed to enhance skill mastery and provide opportunities for peer and self leadership.

  • Backpacking in the Sawtooth Mountains and sea kayaking in Yellowstone
  • Weekend outdoor adventures
  • Week-long kayak trip in the rivers, swamps, and oceans of South Carolina

Ages 14-15


Find your Personal Power

In their final year as campers, participants push their own sense of possibility through more technical outdoor activities and through a Social Justice Week focused on exploring issues within their communities.

  • Rock climbing and white water kayaking
  • 24 hour solo
  • Weekend outdoor adventures
  • Social justice workshops

Ages 15-18

JET Job Experience Training

Create your Vision

Year-round programming focused on community building, joy, professional skill-building, future planning and leadership development.

  • JET CAMP LEADER (JCL): Paid youth leaders and role models in the City Kids camp community, preceded by seven-week professional development training.
  • CAREER EXPLORATION/INTERNSHIP PROGRAM: Programs focused on personal and professional exploration and development through workshops and job shadows/internships with local partners in Jackson, WY.
  • OUTDOOR SESSION & GRAND CLIMB: Two week program including six days of backpacking on the Teton Crest Trail in preparation for a summit attempt of the Grand Teton with Exum Mountain Guides.
  • OUTSIDE PARTNER PROGRAMS: Opportunity to attend a summer course through the National Outdoor Leadership School (NOLS), North Carolina Outward Bound School (NCOBS), or Wilderness Adventures.
  • CK SERVES: School year service learning program partnering with local, mission-aligned non-profits in the DMV.
  • DC TRIPS: Weekend outdoor adventures in the DMV, including biking, hiking, climbing, camping, horseback riding & more!
  • POST-HIGH SCHOOL PLANNING: Individual and Group Post-secondary planning and college preparation support.

Ages 18+


Thanks to the support of The Grossman Family Foundation in 2021, City Kids will launch our College Success and Alumni Services pilot program.

  • One-on-one mentorship and career planning support
  • Post-secondary education planning and job coaching
  • Alumni outdoor adventures and networking gatherings
  • Volunteer engagement and job opportunities with City Kids programs
  • The Grand Climb Experience

    Every summer, City Kids JETs have the opportunity to climb the Grand Teton, the tallest peak in the Teton range with its summit standing at over two and a half miles above sea level. On August 7th, Desahray and Leon, two first-year JETs, experienced one of the biggest thrills of their lives as they took on this challenge. Having worked with Desahray and Leon since they joined the program in the 6th grade, City Kids staff member, Billie, was thrilled to continue her special relationship and join them on the expedition.

  • A New Program Model: Snow Club

    In the winter of 2021, City Kids implemented our first ever Snow Club programming for all youth. In prior years, City Kids would facilitate occasional trips on the slopes, but now as a grantee of Vail Resort + Katz Amsterdam Foundation’s Epic for Everyone Youth Connection to Winter Sports Program, we are able take 30 youth on five trips to Whitetail Ski Resort in Mercersburg, PA, under two hours from DC.



Calendar Year 2021
January 1, 2021 – December 1, 2021

City Kids remained financially stable during unprecedented times and entered 2021 with the resources needed to resume in-person programming in Washington, DC and offer a fun and safe return to residential summer camp in Wyoming. We owe this to the incredible show of support from our donors. In addition, City Kids leveraged disaster assistance, securing a Paycheck Protection Loan which has been fully forgiven at the time of this report.

Individuals $1M
In-Kind $724K
Foundations & Corporations $348K
Federal & State $218K
Cabin Rental $61K
Interest & Dividends $68K

Programs $1.08M
Management & General $345K
Fundraising $229K
Ranch $69K


City Kids Wilderness Project is incredibly grateful to our donor community who sustained their commitment throughout the pandemic or sought out a giving opportunity for the first time. A deep and heartfelt thank you to our many donors, whose generous support makes it possible every day for imaginations to be sparked, academic success to be achieved, self-confidence to grow, and wilderness areas to be explored. Your support of City Kids during the pandemic has simply blown us away and we are so grateful for your continued commitment to our youth.

Support Us

Consider making a donation today to provide enriching outdoor experiences for DC youth and to help redefine the way we think about learning and growing.

Mountaineers at Broken Arrow Ranch