→ Team Pages
Find information specific to your team here. Contact Mentors or Program Coordinators for passwords.
→ Summer Wilderness Trip Information
Stay tuned for more info about SWT 2021.
→ Saturday Challenge Information
*Please Note: All Saturday Challenge activities in fall 2020 are optional. Absences will not be counted.
Printable calendars can be found on Team Pages.
→ Team Text Notifications
Remind is a website and smartphone application that allows parents and Explore Austin staff to communicate by text message. Explore Austin sends important updates to families before every event. Please sign up for notifications about your Explorer’s team by finding the link on you Team Page.
→ Parent Volunteering and Community
The Parent Council is an advisory committee that meets in August, November, and April each year. The Council serves as a voice for all parents of Explorers and communicates directly with Explore Austin staff. If you would like to join, please sign up for the Remind Text Group using this link and email [email protected].
Parent Facebook Group
If you have questions about Explore Austin or would like to communicate with other parents, join the Parent Group on Facebook. This group is new and needs your help to get started!
A “Team Leader” is a volunteer parent that helps the team communicate with Explore Austin. If you have questions about Explore Austin and would like to speak with another parent, call/text/email your Team Leader. Find information for your teams’ Team Leader on your Team Page.
→ Frequently Asked Questions
Click on a topic below to explore questions and answers.
What does Explore Austin cost?
Explore Austin is 100% free for Explorers. The only associated cost with the program is for the Summer Wilderness Trip. Explorers must pay a $100 deposit to confirm their attendance on the trip. This deposit is FULLY refundable and will only be withheld if an Explorer signs up for the trip and does not show up or intentionally damages Explore Austin gear. The deposit will be returned after the Summer Wilderness Trip when the Explorer returns to the warehouse.
Who pays for Explore Austin?
Explore Austin is funded by private donors, corporations, grants, and the support of the Austin community. Our Explorers and Mentors participate in annual fundraisers to contribute to the cost of their participation in the program.
How do I sign up for text notifications?
Explore Austin uses a texting app called Remind to communicate with the families of our Explorers. Each Explore Austin team has an individual page in Remind. To sign up for notifications and texting services, go to the Explorer Resources page and click on your Explorer’s team. Instructions for Remind can be found there.
What is the Parent Council?
The Parent Council is made up of the family members of our Explorers. In the months of April, August, and November, the Parent Council meets to discuss updates from staff and to give feedback on the program. To sign up, email [email protected]
What is Family Campout?
When our Explorers come home after a Saturday Challenge or a Summer Wilderness Trip, they often talk to their families about how much fun camping and the outdoors can be. In a partnership with Texas Parks and Wildlife Department and Texas Outdoor Families, Family Campout is a great way for Explorers to share their skills with their families. In October or November of each year, Explore Austin hosts a one-night campout for 20 Explore Austin families. RSVP information will be sent out in September. Questions? Email [email protected]
What are Parent Team Leaders?
Every team of Explorers and Mentors has about 40 parents that support the program. To help with communication between Mentors and Explore Austin staff, some parents volunteer on behalf of their team. If you have questions and would like to speak to a fellow parent about the program, reach out to your Team Leader! To find their contact information, go to the Explorer Resources page and click on your Explorer’s team. Information about Parent Team Leaders can be found there.
What is the Explore Austin attendance policy?
Information about the Explore Austin attendance policy can be found here.
What is a Saturday Challenge?
One Saturday a month, Explorers will participate in an adventure-based challenge to prepare them for their Summer Wilderness Trip. The 9 Saturday Challenges throughout the year include 2 team building days, 5 core adventure focused activities, 1 leadership asset building day, and 1 volunteer day. During these challenges, explorers will participate in leadership activities and discussions, as well as a fundraising opportunity.
What should my child bring and wear to a Saturday Challenge?
Explorers should always wear closed-toed shoes with weather appropriate clothing and should always bring a water bottle and sun protection. Some Explorers like to bring a backpack. If there is a special item that your Explorer needs to complete a specific challenge (like a swimsuit or water shoes), Explore Austin will notify you via Remind and Mentors will tell your Explorers.
Is lunch provided at a Saturday Challenge?
Upon arrival at Explore Austin, Explorers and Mentors pack sack lunches as a team. Lunch options typically include deli sandwiches, PB&J sandwiches, fruit, trail mix, and snacks. If your Explorer has specific dietary needs, please send them to the Saturday Challenge with their own lunch as we cannot accommodate individual nutrition needs.
Where do Explorers meet for Saturday Challenges?
Most teams meet at the Explore Austin Warehouse off I-35 and William Cannon Rod (6814 Boggy Creek Drive, Austin, Texas, 78744). The Warehouse can be found on Google Maps. However, 4 teams meet at Austin Achieve Middle School on Manor Road (only 2021 Boys AAPS, 2021 Girls AAPS, 2022 Boys Nature Freaks, and 2022 Girls Thundercats).
What time is pickup and dropoff for Saturday Challenges?
Explorers should be dropped off for their Saturday Challenge at 8:30 a.m. and picked up at 2:30 p.m.
How do I view my child’s Saturday Challenge schedule for the year?
To view your Explorer’s Challenge Schedule, go to the Explorer Resources page and click on your Explorer’s team. Information about schedules can be found there.
What is a Summer Wilderness Trip?
Every summer, Explorers and Mentors apply the leadership skills developed through the Saturday Challenges on a week-long backcountry trip to either Texas, Oklahoma, Arkansas, New Mexico, Colorado, or Wyoming. As Explorers get older, the Summer Wilderness Trips become more challenging and build upon skills learned in previous years. Explorers are pushed out of their comfort zones as they are challenged physically, emotionally, and mentally. It is on these trips that Explorers form a unique bond with their Mentors and get to test their leadership abilities to the fullest.
When do I find out the dates for my child’s Summer Wilderness Trip?
The dates for Summer Wilderness Trips are announced each February and will be posted on the Explorer Resources page.
How do I RSVP for the Summer Wilderness Trip?
RSVPs, Deposits, and Medical Forms will be distributed at the February/March Saturday Challenges. They can be returned at the March/April Saturday Challenges to Explore Austin staff.
What does the Summer Wilderness Trip cost?
The Summer Wilderness Trip is free, but Explore Austin asks that each Explorer contributes a $100, fully-refundable deposit to reserve a spot on the trip. This deposit will be returned at the end of the trip. There are two circumstances for which Explore Austin will not return the deposit: 1. If an Explorer RSVPs yes to the trip and does not show up and 2. If an Explorer intentionally damages Explore Austin gear while on the Summer Wilderness Trip.
Where is the packing list and itinerary for the Summer Wilderness Trip?
The packing list and itinerary will be announced in April. It will be distributed at Saturday Challenges and can be found on the Explorer Resources page.
Who are the professional guides that lead the Summer Wilderness Trip?
At Explore Austin, we call our guides “Trip Leaders.” They are local professionals who are equipped with the technical adventure skills that will be taught to your Explorer. Trip Leaders go through extensive background checks, safety training, and certification by Explore Austin.
What is a mentor?
A mentor is a trusted leader, advisor, or role model outside of a child’s community, whose responsibility is to guide a youth toward success and empowerment. At Explore Austin, our mentors go through a strict background check and interview process and on average, are aged between 23-50 years old.
How do I contact my child’s mentor?
Mentor contact information can be found on the Explorer Resources page.
I know someone who would be a great mentor. How do they apply?
To apply to be an Explore Austin mentor, visit www.ExploreAustin.org/volunteer.
My friend wants to join Explore Austin. How do they apply?
For information about applying to Explore Austin, visit www.ExploreAustin.org/our-explorers.
Is there a waitlist?
Yes. The waitlist exists for youth who wish to apply to 7th-10th grade teams. Waitlisted youth will only be enrolled if a spot opens up on a team. To apply to the waitlist, vwww.ExploreAustin.org/our-explorers.
How does a child qualify for Explore Austin?
To apply to Explore Austin, a youth must meet two standards: 1. Qualify for free/reduced lunch under Title 1 and 2. Reside in a geographically low-income region.
How old do you have to be to join Explore Austin?
To enroll in Explore Austin, a student must be in 6th grade (11-12 years old).
My friend and I are applying to become Explorers. Can we be placed on the same team?
While it is possible for two incoming Explorers to be placed on the same team, it is not guaranteed. When completing your application, simply write a note to staff on the paper or email Brittny.Stromme@ExploreAustin.org explaining your situation..