Boulder | Middle School

Mountain Adventure & Environmental Stewardship

From our base on the campus of the University of Colorado Boulder, explore Colorado’s mountains, rivers, prairie, and vibrant outdoor communities on this active summer environmental education and stewardship program for middle school students. Hike, paddle, and climb; learn outdoor skills; lend a hand with conservation and agriculture projects; and explore new approaches to solving tough environmental issues.

July 8, 2017  –  July 22, 2017
At A Glance:
  • Adventure
    Outdoor exploration, hiking, biking, swimming, and other active pursuits
  • Mountains
    Focus on outdoor exploration with day hikes or alpine trekking
  • Wildlife
    Exploration of flora and fauna in natural habitats, national parks, or wildlife reserves
Completing grades 7 – 8
US Gateway City:
Boulder, CO
Middle School
15 days
Typical Group:
18 – 22 students, 3 leaders
$ 4,290 + airfare
  • Join entrepreneurs to brainstorm solutions to environmental and social challenges
  • Participate in local wildlife conservation and sustainable agriculture projects
  • Summit one of Colorado’s peaks for a view of the Continental Divide
  • Swim in an alpine stream and ride rapids on a guided whitewater trip


Education: The College of William and Mary, B.A., Linguistics (minor in Hispanic Studies)

During college, Max focused on linguistics, fine-tuned his Spanish, and traveled on a service trip to rural Panama. While spending a semester abroad in Buenos… read more

During college, Max focused on linguistics, fine-tuned his Spanish, and traveled on a service trip to rural Panama. While spending a semester abroad in Buenos Aires, Argentina, Max studied intercultural communication and international business. He also worked as a journalist through his study abroad organization, writing about Argentinian student life and culture. Max spent two summers as an outdoor adventure camp counselor, mentoring youth of all ages, and interned in the Embassy of Spain in Washington, D.C. For his senior capstone project, he completed an introductory grammar of the Burmese language. Max currently works as an independent music instructor, teaching piano, guitar, and drums to elementary, middle, and high school students. He is also an avid songwriter and improv comedian. This fall, Max plans to teach English in South Korea. He is proficient in Spanish and has led Putney’s Middle School Costa Rica program.


Departure • Travel Day • Meet your fellow middle school student travelers and one or more of your leaders on the University of Colorado Boulder campus or at Denver International Airport and travel together to campus. To learn more about how we organize travel, click here.

Boulder & Campus Life • Settle into your dorm and explore the CU Boulder campus. Meet local growers at the Boulder farmers’ market and shop for a picnic lunch. Learn how entrepreneurial minds in this vibrant community are supporting the green economy. Go for a day hike in the hills outside of town or try out kayaking on a lake with the Rockies as your backdrop. In the evening, go out for a special dessert with your group, watch a mountain film in your dorm, play games, or  participate in a student-leader talent show.

Outdoor Skills • Try rock climbing in an introductory clinic with professional guides, go whitewater rafting, participate in a map and compass workshop, study mountain weather, practice “Leave No Trace” ethics with a master trainer, and learn wilderness first aid from expert instructors.

Field Activities • Take a guided day hike to St. Mary’s Glacier and explore and sled on this impressive snowfield. Go on a behind-the-scenes tour of the Denver Zoo and learn about its wildlife conservation work. Then, head into the field and assist the zoo’s ecologists on a citizen science project to protect Colorado’s wildlife. Experience sustainable agriculture in action as you lend a hand with planting and harvesting at a local farm. See examples of business and innovation responding to environmental issues in the community. Trace the development of mountaineering from past to present and learn about climbing expeditions around the world on a visit to the American Mountaineering Museum in nearby Golden.

Final Excursion • Wake early and travel to nearby Rocky Mountain National Park. Explore its trails, alpine meadows, and high mountain lakes. Scout for bighorn sheep, elk, moose, marmots, pikas, and other wildlife. Go above treeline on Trail Ridge Road and take in incredible vistas of the park’s alpine tundra. Have a final dinner and celebration with your group.

Return • Travel Day • Say farewell to your group and leaders at the CU Boulder campus or travel to Denver International Airport with a leader, then continue on to your final destination. To learn more about how we organize travel, click here.

This itinerary represents our best projection of the group’s schedule. However, we may implement changes designed to improve the quality of the program.

A Day in the Life: BOULDER

Due to the dynamic nature of this summer program, each day is different.

8 AM Breakfast with your group
10 AM Morning hike in the Flatirons
12 PM Lunch on campus
2 PM Join an outdoor skills workshop, visit a nearby farm, or meet with local entrepreneurs
4 PM Play soccer or frisbee or work on independent projects
6 PM Picnic dinner at the Boulder farmers’ market, followed by a film screening on campus
8 PM Group meeting to discuss the day and upcoming schedule

I’m overjoyed and grateful that he had this experience of a lifetime! Thank you Putney for helping our children realize that they can do anything they set their minds to! I hope that my son will continue to develop the friendships he made as a result of this invaluable experience.

— Jamaca Sayles, Pittsburgh, PA

What to Expect

Independent Project • Pursue an independent project and explore a local or topical issue of interest to you — investigate the positive and negative effects of outdoor recreation on the natural world, the benefits of low impact farming techniques, the history of Rocky Mountain National Park, or Colorado’s role in developing modern outdoor adventure equipment.

Physical Activity • This is a physically active summer program. While you don’t need to be in top physical shape, you should be prepared to be active for most of each day. Hiking, rock climbing, whitewater rafting, and walking to destinations on and around the CU Boulder campus are all activities you may participate in during this program. You should be willing to challenge yourself to step out of your comfort zone and be excited about trying all activities.

Accommodations • The group stays in dorms on the CU Boulder campus. Rooms are doubles with shared bathroom facilities on the hall. Leaders reside together with the students throughout the program.

Meals • Most breakfasts and dinners are taken in the dining hall on campus. Lunches are usually packed and brought with us on field activities. We have a few special meals out at some of Boulder’s delicious restaurants.

Community Service • The group will have an opportunity to lend a hand on conservation and sustainable agriculture projects. You can expect to complete 4-6 hours of community service work.

My son felt great satisfaction about forming new deep friendships with both the other students and the counsellors. He gained self-confidence and amazed himself when he tried and loved new activities.

— Margaret and Matthew Boyer, Brooklyn, NY

Ask Us

Call John at 802.387.5000 or email

The Middle School Boulder student program is directed by John Linsley. If you have questions, are interested in receiving more detailed information, or would like to talk further about the program or any of our middle school student travel summer programs, please get in touch!

John Linsley

St. Lawrence University, B.A., Government; Maxwell School of Syracuse University, M.A., International Relations

John’s love of travel began in high school when he studied in Germany on an exchange program. Since then, he has worked and traveled in East and West Africa, South Asia, Western Europe, Central America, and the Caribbean. John is fluent in Swahili, the regional language of East Africa, and has led Putney’s Community Service in the Indian Himalaya program, Cultural Exploration Kilimanjaro program, and the Community Service Tanzania program for several summers. John currently organizes programs in Tanzania, India, and the U.S. A certified EMT and Wilderness EMT, John is an avid trail runner, skier, and kayaker.