Explorer & Parent Resources

September Saturday Challenges

Saturday Challenges are on for September! Please refer to the Program Calendar ( password: ACES) for information regarding your teams’ and find more information about precautions we will be taking on your Team Pages.

¡Los desafíos del sábado están en marcha para septiembre! Consulte el Calendario del programa (contraseña: ACES) para obtener información sobre sus equipos y encontrar más información sobre las precauciones que tomaremos en las páginas de su equipo.

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→  Summer Wilderness Trip Information

Stay tuned for more info about SWT 2021.

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→  Saturday Challenge Information

September Saturday Challenge Plan

*Please Note: All Saturday Challenge activities in fall 2020 are optional. Absences will not be counted.

  • Pre-Existing Conditions: 
  1. Due to the health risks associated with Covid and pre-existing conditions, we’re requesting that all high-risk, pre-existing conditions be shared with the Program Staff, (through Brittny Stromme [email protected]) prior to arrival to determine whether participation in the program is the safest choice.

September Saturday Challenge Schedule

      1. For the month of September, Saturday Challenges will be shorter (9:30am – 1:30pm).
      2. Schedule:
  • 9:30 am – Drop-off time for Explorers
        1. 10:00 am – 12:00 pm – Regular program instruction by Trip Leaders
        2. 12:00 pm – 1:30 pm – Lunch and Discussion Activity
  • 1:30 pm – Pick-up time for Explorers
  1. Explorers must be dropped off and picked up at the centrally-located activity location.
    1. No transportation together in September, subject to change for future Saturday Challenges.
      1. Explorers will be responsible for transportation to activities for the month of September. All activity locations will be approximately 20 – 25 minutes from the EA Warehouse.
      2. Mentors will meet Explorers at the activity location at 9:30am.
  1. Health Screenings + Waivers:
  2. Upon arrival at your Saturday Challenge, the following must be completed:
    1. Temperature check of participant (Mentors and Explorers), administered by EA staff
    2. COVID-19 symptom & exposure questionnaire, and Acknowledgement of Risk Waiver
    3. Parents and Explorers must wear a mask while completing questionnaire and waiver.
  1. Lunch will be provided.
    1. Lunches will be individually and safely prepared by EA staff.
      1. Food will be individually packaged in efforts to not to be shared between individuals at activity location.
    2. Explorers and Mentors may bring their own lunches but are prohibited from sharing their food with others.
  1. All teams will adhere to social distancing during their activities.
    1. When possible, participants will remain 6 feet from other participants.
      1. Groups will only form for instruction and other absolutely necessary activities.
    2. Masks will be worn anytime we are in close proximity to each other, including during pre-activity briefings and instructions.
      1. Mask will only be taken off when participants move away from each other to complete the activity, i.e., when they start to rock climb or mountain bike, etc.
    3. Activity groups will be limited to 10 people. If more than 10 participants (Mentors and Explorers) are at a Saturday Challenge, groups will be divided into 2 for the duration of the Saturday Challenge.
    4. Staff will wipe down any equipment before AND after use with disinfectant wipes or spray and paper towels.
  1. All Teams will receive a “COVID response kit” that includes:
    1. Extra gloves
    2. Extra masks
    3. Spray sanitizer
    4. Trash bags
  1. Teams are not permitted to spend any time together in an enclosed/indoor space regardless of weather.
    1. We will cancel for lightning or severe rain/weather.
  1. If suspected case or exposure:
    1. Mentors will separate Explorer from the group and call Program staff. 
    2. Program staff will call parents to pick up Explorer.
    3. Program staff / Mentors will bag all items that the person has been in contact with.
    4. Program staff will notify all parents via email and Remind.

If Explorer / Mentor tests positive for COVID or shows signs and symptoms of COVID during non-activity time, please alert Explore Austin staff.

View schedule on the Program Calendar (password: ACES)

Explore Austin Warehouse: 6814 Boggy Creek Drive, Austin, Texas, 78744

Austin Achieve Public School: 5908 Manor Road, Austin, Texas, 78723

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→  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.

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→  Parent Volunteering and Community

Parent Council

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!

Team Leader

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.

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→  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..

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Questions?

Contact Explore Austin Staff

Grace Davis 
Program & Evaluation Coordinator | Explore Austin
[email protected]
office: 512-320-8899

Brittny Stromme
Program & Community Coordinator | Explore Austin
[email protected]
office: 512-320-8899