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.

“City Kids has been the best. What you and your staff did for our son this summer was wonderful. You have taught him lessons that we could not. You have extended his family. You have kept him safe and made him happy. For this, we are forever grateful.”


Malachi (Ranger), Horseback Riding at the Ranch



    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,

I have a distinct childhood memory of a spot where I felt invincible. It was underneath two huge holly trees in my backyard. When I walked underneath the branches, I was enveloped by a canopy; the space felt vast and removed from the outside world. The prickly leaves were my shield and the green, brown, and red colors of the leaves and limbs served as an exterior camouflage. It was the perfect spot for official “clubhouse” meetings, a shady respite from the blistering DC summer heat, and a refuge for my best friend and me to retreat over the twelve years we used it. This summer, I spoke to countless campers of all ages in the City Kids program and felt heartened to hear them describe their time as part of this community, in their and Jackson “homes,” in similar ways. It left me with a profound determination to thoughtfully care for and nurture the relationships, the sense of place, and the ongoing feeling of belonging and security that grows as a result of time spent with City Kids year after year.

In Fall 2022, City Kids launched a strategic plan that sought to reclaim why the organization was created to begin with: to build resiliency, broaden horizons, cultivate community, and develop skills for success in DC youth. The organization and everyone connected to it spent our time, energy, and resources nurturing relationships, and building strong systems, processes, and programs that allow youth and staff to meaningfully grow and evolve. And, we gave ourselves permission to release from that which did not. This Annual Report shares the story of what can happen when you stay laser focused on initiatives that are relevant to the current needs of youth, that develop and retain quality talent, and that allow us to measure how effective our investments are in meeting our mission. In this Annual Report, we are celebrating the great strides we are making toward achieving the three-year goals we’ve set against our highest priorities.

Thank you for the investments you continue to make to ensure City Kids participants build connections with each other, positive adults, and the treasured recreational lands they utilize in both DC and Jackson Hole. Your contributions are helping to provide opportunities for youth to create lasting memories about places and people who provide retreat, resilience, and reformation.


Sarah Cryder
Executive Director

Sarah Cryder

“This Annual Report shares the story of what can happen when you stay laser focused on initiatives that are relevant to the current needs of youth, that develop and retain quality talent, and that allow us to measure how effective our investments are in meeting our mission.”


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.


youth in the City Kids program.


DC Public Schools attended by City Kids participants.


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


self-identify as Black or African-American, 8% as Hispanic or Latino, and 6% other.


eligible for free or reduced school lunch.

Mountaineers camping in the Winds


Post Secondary Success


graduation rate over the last three years. DC Graduation Rate – 70.9%.


100% enrolled in college, military, or vocational training or entered the workforce after completing the City Kids program.

Social-Emotional Gain


of participants showed meaningful gains in one or more Social-Emotional Learning (SEL) capacities that contribute to academic success, career readiness, general well-being, and promote long-term thriving.

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


of high school participants expressed they developed self-management capacities due to our programming.

Self-management relates to a participant’s ability to manage their emotions, thoughts, and behaviors in different situations and to achieve goals and aspirations.

Connection to the Outdoors & Skill Mastery


of City Kids youth report feeling more deeply connected to DC’s green spaces.


of City Kids youth report feeling more competent in the skills they are learning.

City Kids Satisfaction


of participants expressed satisfaction with the City Kids program.


of participants expressed overall satisfaction with our Wyoming-based Summer Camp.


of employees would recommend City Kids as a place to work.

The City Kids Journey

The City Kids journey begins when youth enter the program in the sixth grade and continues 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.

What Makes City Kids Different?

In a recent landscape analysis performed by Boston Consulting Group, City Kids is the only DC-based, free, outdoor and experiential program that is long-term, routine, and tailored to small cohorts.

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, 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.

  • Outdoor adventures including canoeing, backpacking, horseback riding, camping, Afterschool Rock Club and weekend Snow Club

Ages 13-14


Be Excellent

In their 3rd year in the program, participants spend longer amounts of time in the backcountry, allowing them to deepen their hard skills mastery, connection to the wild spaces & connection to one another.

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

Ages 14-15


Find your Personal Power

In their fourth & final year of camper programming, participants explore their own agency in creating positive change in their communities through a week of social justice activities & conversations. They finish their session with new personal & group challenges – outdoor rock climbing and whitewater kayaking.

  • Rock climbing and white water kayaking
  • 24 hour soloWeekend outdoor adventures
  • Community service and volunteer programming
  • Social justice workshops
  • Afterschool Rock and Bouldering Club, Weekend Ski and Snowboard Club
City Kids JET

Ages 15-18

JET Job Experience Training

Create your Vision

Year-round training opportunities lay the foundation for transferable job skills, and future-focused planning provides youth with a clear road map after high school.

  • Junior Camp Leader: Paid summer job opportunity as a peer mentor and program assistant, preceded by six weeks of training during the school year
  • Career Exploration: Workshops, job shadows, and mini-internship placements to test and explore career and post-secondary education interests
  • City Kids Serve: School year community service opportunities
  • Weekend outdoor adventures
  • Post-secondary planning and college preparation support
  • Opportunity to attend a course through the National Outdoor Leadership School
  • (NOLS), North Carolina Outward Bound School, or Wilderness Adventures
  • Opportunity to hike the Teton Crest Trail & summit the Grand Teton as a culminating adventure
  • Learn to Bike Program
  • “Your Word” afterschool writing program focused on reflections of “future self”

Ages 18+


Alumni receive check-ins and support for at least two years after completing the program and are eligible for:

  • Alumni networking gatherings
  • Volunteer engagement and job opportunities with City Kids programs

Fostering a Legacy of Resilience & Connection

Vanessa Romero’s experience with City Kids in 2003 played a pivotal role in shaping her adulthood, influencing her journey as a parent. Now, 20 years later, she is passing on the legacy of adventure and personal development to her 13-year-old daughter, Alejandra, who is now in her second year with City Kids.

“I can use what I’ve learned at City Kids in my life by using my personal power to push through hard things.”


Sarah Cryder, Executive Director, meets the Grand Climbers as they return from the climb.

SY23-25 Three Year Strategic Plan

One year after the launch of City Kids three year strategic plan, our staff and board agree: we’re on track and staying accountable to the plan.



Youth Impact

  • Develop and enhance program curriculum related to socio-emotional learning and positive youth development frameworks
  • Finalize new tools for collecting impact data and develop processes for continuous monitoring and improvement


DC-Based Programming

  • Expand the afterschool club model to include horseback riding and “learn to bike” programs, as well as high school writing and future planning workshops
  • Expand Snow Club (skiing/snowboarding) and Rock Club (rock climbing and bouldering) for all youth
  • Update and codify the camper level curriculum



  • Finalize new talent management and employee performance evaluation systems
  • Finalize compensation model and three year salary plan for all employees
  • Develop training and tracking system for employee competency framework
  • Develop a three-year technology and equipment plan
  • Fostering a Legacy of Resilience & Connection

    Vanessa Romero’s experience with City Kids in 2003 played a pivotal role in shaping her adulthood, influencing her journey as a parent. Now, 20 years later, she is passing on the legacy of adventure and personal development to her 13-year-old daughter, Alejandra, who is now in her second year with City Kids.

  • 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 2022
January 1, 2022 – December 1, 2022

City Kids experienced significant growth in line with its 2022-2025 Strategic Plan in 2023, bringing on new staff and expanding programming to pre-pandemic levels in both Washington, DC and Jackson, Wyoming. We are grateful for the continued support of our incredible donors and City Kids’ Board of Directors, whose investment in the Strategic Plan through use of reserves will increase both our impact and our fundraising capabilities in the coming years.

Individuals $873K
In-Kind $774K
Foundations & Corporations $498K
Federal & State $258K
Cabin Rental $51K
Investment Loss $378K

Programs $1.9M
Management & General $491K
Fundraising $164K
Ranch $105K


City Kids Wilderness Project is incredibly grateful to our donor community who sustained their commitment and sought out giving opportunities. A deep and heartfelt thank you to our many donors, whose generous support makes it possible every day for imaginations to be sparked, self-confidence to grow, and wilderness areas to be explored. Your support of City Kids 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 Canoeing on Jackson Lake