Youth Programs

Youth Leadership in the Sierra

Our Mission:

Helping young people achieve health, confidence, reflection and growth through mountain challenges, and service learning projects.


Preparing tomorrow’s citizens and leaders for envisioning and creating roles in our emerging green society.


High-lighting sustainability in oneself, in relationships, and with the earth’s ecosystems-- we foster systems thinking, intuition, wonder, inquiry, and respect.

“If the creative fires within our young people are not fed, nurtured, and added to the communal hearth, they will burn down the structures of society just to feel the warmth.”
Joseph Chilton Pierce



Whole Hearts, Minds, and Bodies

Whole Hearts, Minds, and Bodies (WHMB) is a program started through Gateway Mountain Center as a holistic treatment model for youth who are experiencing mental or behavioral health challenges.


Our concept of Nature-Based Therapeutic Mentoring combines caring mentorship, counseling and psychotherapeutic support, expansive experiences, and deep self-reflection to support participants as they navigate life. With nature as our backdrop we guide youth through multi-hour, activity-based sessions that help them increase their sense of empowerment, strengthen their resiliency, expand their self-image, and reduce their vulnerability to stress and depression.


The WHMB team consists of mentors with training as therapists, school counselors, mountain guides, teachers, and practitioners in the healing and holistic arts.


Downloadable PDFs:  Parent/Guardian Info:  Youth Info:



Pass it On!

A program offered for students at Sierra High School in Truckee.


Winter Program: Backcountry snowboarding/skiing, avalanche hazard evaluation, and winter survival. 

Autumn and Spring Program: Rock Climbing at Donner Summit. 


Experienced students mentor new participants, and complete a service project to educate younger youth.  Our 2009/2010 plan is to produce a youth-made public service announcement on winter backcountry safety.


Peak Health – a wellness and empowerment program for young women.

A new course at Sierra High School partially funded by the Truckee Tahoe Community Foundation, and taught by holistic health educator Nancy Minges MA. This course will focus on developing personal processes of confidence, self-esteem, health and empowerment. Modalities explored include: yoga, fitness, core conditioning, art, dance, movement, journaling, nutrition, mindfulness, visualization, the healing power of nature, mind and emotion, communication skills, and inquiry. At the program's conclusion, a recipe book of each participant's best practices for well-being will be created to share with family, friends, and in-coming new students.


Life or Meth Film

We formed a media team with a small group of our Pass It On! students, and won a grant from Placer County Health and Human Services to make a film about the dangers of crystal meth use, targeted toward teens. The film was premiered at a Youth Wellness Symposium to rave reviews. We recently showed the film with a panel discussion to over 600 students at Truckee High School. We are working to expand our adventure programs to serve more teens in recovery.


Carbon Footprint Project

In 2006 we created and taught a class for the Honors students from Truckee High’s freshman Earth Science class consisting of an investigation into the greenhouse gas contribution of the average Truckee family.  This work culminated in a system map display and seminar given at the Climate Change Symposium that was attended by 300 students and many community members.  In 2007 we won a Civic Engagement Grant from the Tahoe Truckee Community Foundation to turn this work into the website which will become a community feedback and planning tool, graphically illustrating our region's cumulative greenhouse gas emissions by source. 


Ecological Restoration and Green Jobs Training

We take students into the field to participate in Yuba River Day and Truckee River Day with hands-on learning in Riparian Habitat Restoration.  We partner with the Sierra Business Council to train students in forest carbon sequestration survey techniques in the Waddell Ranch forest.  This work has led us into collaborating with Sierra Watershed Education Partnership (SWEP) to develop a new green jobs education program for high school students in Truckee and North Tahoe.


Youth Empowerment Program

Partnering with the Sierra Business Council we produced a program in youth environmental leadership that took place in Mammoth Lakes, CA. in conjunction with the annual conference of the Sierra Nevada Conservancy and the Sierra Business Council.  Youth from programs around the state collaborated on explorations of Sierra eco-systems,  identifying youth priorities for needed improvements in environmental and social issues in rural and urban communities.

“I have seen first hand the powerful impact this program has had on many of our students.  The effects are seen in physical and emotional well-being and also academic accomplishment.” - Debbie Spohr, Sierra High School Counselor
“This award for Service is presented to Peter Mayfield for dedication and hard work in helping prevent and reduce the use of methamphetamine in our community.” - County Health and Human Services Dept. 2009
“Spending 5 days with 19 kids from both Rural and Urban areas in California, I was impressed and filled with hope at the level of understanding and concern that these young adults have for the future of their communities. Gateway Mountain Center was vital in setting the stage for these kids' success.” - Anna Toso, Sierra Business Council