Photo of sea kayaking by Michael Stevens ’15. Pictured are Thomas Crowe ’15 (foreground) and William Carson ’15 (in the far distance).
Peter Rittenhouse (Ritt) Kellogg Jr. ’90 had an adventurous spirit and a love for wild places. He died in an avalanche in Alaska in 1992, and the following year, his family and friends founded the Ritt Kellogg Memorial Fund in his honor. The endowed fund supports education grants, a climbing wall, a book collection on topics related to wilderness expeditions, and expedition grants for Colorado College students. In the program’s 23 years, the fund has supported 222 educational grants and 170 expeditions involving 511 students.
“The Ritt Kellogg expeditions are the culminating experiences for CC students who are involved in Outdoor Education. Students have to be out in the wilderness for 12 days minimum in terrain that’s remote. It’s truly a transformative experience for about 12 teams every year,” says Ryan Hammes, director of Outdoor Education.
John Thomson ’07 chairs the Ritt Kellogg Memorial Fund Advisory Committee, which advises the college on the program’s direction and development and allocates fund resources. This year, the committee has streamlined the application process for students. To apply for funding, student teams of two or more must complete a lengthy proposal that includes risk management and emergency evacuation plans. The committee carefully reviews proposals to ensure students are properly trained and equipped and are ready to make sound decisions once they’re in the field.
In June, the committee successfully raised $50,000 in new endowment funds, securing a $15,000 challenge match in the process.
“A few years ago, we had more expedition proposals than we could have funded if all of them had met the qualifications. It was a good problem to have,” Thomson says. “Raising this $50,000 for the endowment will provide roughly another $2,500 every year to our budget in perpetuity — about the equivalent of funding one more expedition every single year. That’s important because the Ritt Kellogg Memorial Fund is very unique as far as providing support for student-organized and student-led back country expeditions. There’s really no other school that has something like this in terms of being able to offer the financial support for wilderness expeditions. It’s a powerful way for students to develop leadership and organizational skills.”
Going forward, the committee is searching for conservation projects to fulfill its goal of providing CC students with environmental service opportunities.
Thomson says the two Ritt Kellogg funded expeditions he took as a CC student, skiing California’s Sierra Nevada range and climbing a massive, glaciated expanse in British Columbia’s Waddington range, made him a better decision maker. They also imparted valuable job training.
“The expeditions were an opportunity for me to take a project from inception, to planning logistics, to carrying out the actual trips and developing leadership skills. It set me up to travel in bigger mountain ranges for extended periods of time so it was really instrumental helping me get my first guiding job out of college,” Thomson says.
Michael Stevens ’15, who took part in a 28-day sea kayaking trip in the coastal waters of British Columbia with two friends, credited the experience with developing his creative talents as well as his outdoor skills.
“The process of collaborating on a nearly 100-page application provided me with experience that makes me confident in my abilities for grant writing. This trip also presented me with an opportunity to develop my interests in photography and videography, encouraging me to cultivate my creative energy into constructive projects,” Stevens says. “As a young alumnus, I look to the Kellogg family as an example of what it means to truly give back to a place. I am motivated to give back because of the gifts I received during my time at CC from the Kellogg family.”
View Middle of Nowhere, a film Stevens made about the expedition, and see his photography about the journey.