QUEERS In The Wilderness Program Application
** Notes on the word Queer: “We recognize and honor that the word “queer” has been used in the past as a derogatory term and is still very hurtful for some in the LGBTQ2SIA+ community. Many LGBTQ2SIA+ organizations and communities have reclaimed the word “queer” and this has been both empowering and uniting of the multiple complex identities within the community. We use the word here as an inclusive term and shortcut for the LGBTQ2SIA+ lettering.” (wording borrowed from the School of Lost Borders Queer Quest description).

Eastern Sierra Conservation Corps (ESCC) will be hosting our first Queers In The Wilderness program. This cohort is an affinity space for participants from the LGBTQ2SIA+ community.

Cohorts are specifically planned around holding space for young queer participants who have never experienced or had access to mountaineering specific outdoor recreation to experience a fully funded backpacking trip through the Sierras. All leaders, instructors, staff and participants of this program will be reflective of the range and resilience of queer identities.

We are looking for queer identifying participants, ages 18-25, who wish to join us in our Queers In The Wilderness Program. Queers In The Wilderness is a program of the Eastern Sierra Conservation Corps (ESCC) with support from the North Face Explorer Fund. ESCC is a development and leadership program committed to building stronger and more inclusive outdoor communities. We aim to provide opportunities to experience and better understand wilderness and natural resources by providing transformational backcountry experiences.

Program Description:
Our participants will meet and have an introduction and orientation session with our trip leaders before embarking on an 8 day immersive backpacking trip. All trips will be based in the Sierras, typically in Kings Canyon National Park or the Inyo National Forest. During the trip, leaders will guide participants through the hike and through queer specific natural history, resiliency, community building and other related sessions at night. Each cohort will be exposed to the numerous natural resources and conservation careers available in our public lands and will meet and work with a conservation crew on the ground during the trip, gaining valuable knowledge and work skills. Our hope is to provide access to these groups to enjoy their public lands and inspire future land stewards to action.

Trip dates are August 29 - September 5th 2021.

We will be taking small groups of young queer participants on an educational trip into the backcountry, giving members the opportunity to learn the intricacies of backpacking and exposure to different fields of conservation work. Participants will gain hands on experience with Eastern Sierra Conservation Corps crews, helping to maintain safe and appropriate access the public lands they are visiting.

The trip will be either an eight-day loop or point-to-point. Each day will include hiking, and some will involve project work, such as trail maintenance; invasive plant removal or fire restoration. Safety briefings and PPE will be available as well as instruction in the skills necessary to successfully complete the day’s task. No prior experience is expected.

There will be a nightly curriculum focused on breaking down queer specific boundaries to access opportunities in the outdoors. Members will be encouraged to explore their own identities in relation to the land and in relation to each other; discovering and celebrating new ways to belong in these spaces. We will also learn about environmental issues confronting public lands, natural history, pre-park history, and plant identification, to name a few. This will be in addition to learning all the skills required to hike and backpack including gear fitting, proper gear, boot and foot care, ergonomics, stove use, tent set up, food preparation and storage, water filtration, hygiene, etc. Participants interested in career opportunities with ESCC or other conservation corps, the National Park Service and the US Forest Service will have unique access to the on-the-ground experiences of workers. We will also provide post-season support and guidance in accessing these career pathways.

This is not a paid position, however, transportation costs will be subsidized and all food, gear and equipment (backpack, sleeping bag, sleeping pad, tents, stoves, rain gear, etc.) needed will be provided AT NO COST to participants. If you think this program is for you, it is, regardless of what you have or don't have to bring. We want you to come as you are and know the ways we can support your journey.

Our trip leaders are experts in the field with extensive backcountry backpacking and trail work experience.

Trips will be designed to visit remote wilderness locations.

You will be hiking with heavy packs in a variety of weather conditions and you may be exposed to
the following adverse environmental conditions: rain, snow, extreme heat and cold, dry weather, lightning, high amounts of dust, camp and forest fire smoke, and high elevations.

Our program is designed to partner with an ESCC trail crew for a few days while on the trip and/or complete trail work during the hikes of the trip. The hiking and work can be physically demanding and requires members to hike 3-8 miles daily over rugged, steep, uneven terrain while carrying 40-60 pounds in their backpack.

Participants will be expected to follow regimented itineraries, agreements, and ESCC policies to maintain the health and safety of all members of the trip. We will follow a strict “buddy system” at all times as well as commit to a strict no drug/alcohol policy. We will be requesting proof of covid vaccination.

If you have any questions, please email us at info(at)easternsierracc.org.

Applications will be limited to the first 50 received. Thank you for your interest in our program.
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