Montana Wilderness School

Outdoor Foundation

"There are few things in a young person’s life that can be as impactful as a self-supported trip into the wilderness. Many of us here at The Ranch would not be where we are today without the exposure to the wilderness at a young age – and for that, it is our pleasure to support an organization whose focus on youth inspires many of us whose children could one day be students."

- Ben Nobel, North American Sales Manager - Outdoor, MYSTERY RANCH

The Montana Wilderness School is a 501(c)3 nonprofit outdoor education organization based in Bozeman, Montana, providing multi-week wilderness expeditions for youth ages 14-18. The mission of MWS is to provide empowering expeditionary wilderness courses to youth that foster personal growth and cultivate a conservation ethic through connecting with remote landscapes and wild places.

The Montana Wilderness School was created to provide powerful transformative experiences and opportunities for personal growth outside of the traditional classroom. Many recent studies show kids from the United States are only spending about half as much time outdoors as they did 20 years ago and the average American child spends as little as 10% of their time outside, but more than seven hours each day in front of an electronic screen. The research is clear that outdoor education programs like MWS have shown significant improvements for students in character development, social adjustment, academic achievement, and group cohesion, as well as improving communication and relationships with peers, teachers, and parents. MWS courses are physically and at times emotionally challenging, giving students an opportunity to develop grit and test themselves in a supportive learning environment. MWS’ focus on conservation, preservation, and a sense of place fosters environmental stewardship and critical thinking, empowering students to be more engaged citizens when they return home.

MWS is inclusive of all motivated Montana students 14-18 years old, that differ culturally, geographically, racially and socioeconomically. In 2018, MWS awarded 80% of our Montana students partial and full tuition financial support to attend our Youth Wilderness Program. Since MWS’ inception, we have not had to turn away a student because of financial need!

As a MYSTERY RANCH customer, you understand the importance of our wild spaces and forging these connections between youth and the outdoors. MWS' goal is that students will be eager to explore, camp, fish, hunt and spend time in the Montana backcountry with their families and friends, along with developing a connection to help protect these places in the future. Supporting the MWS is an investment in the future of Montana’s youth and our public lands, educating our community and future leaders to be compassionate, thoughtful stewards of our great state. Learn more about MWS, our expeditions, our community and our financial aid for Montana youth at

"MYSTERY RANCH is one of our amazing business supporters helping outfit MWS students with packs for our backpacking and mountaineering expeditions. MWS staff and students are in the field for up to 21 days straight and depend on the high quality, intelligently designed and well-built products from MYSTERY RANCH to keep up with the rigorous use and extreme conditions MWS students and staff encounter while on a multi-week expeditions. We are grateful for the support MYSTERY RANCH brings to our community and youth!"

- Claire Kleese, Communications Manager and Development Assistant

To get involved with MWS, you can donate on our website which directly supports our Scholarship Fund and allows deserving underserved Montana Youth to attend an expedition. You can also support MWS by donating your lightly used gear and technical outdoor clothing (wool, fleece & down jackets) and gently used tennis shoes. In addition, MWS is always accepting trekking poles. Please email for instructions on donations.