The mission of NavajoYES is to provide activities, outings and programs that provide for the physical, social and academic enrichment of Navajo youth, families and communities. We strive to empower Navajo Nation youth through adventure activities that integrate education and service as part of the experience.
The Tour de Rez is a summerlong journey that for 21 years has combined outdoor adventure, unique learning experiences and meaningful community service for students across the reservation. The journey incorporates mountain biking, backpacking treks at Grand Canyon and Rainbow Bridge, a raft leg on the San Juan River, a desert trek in Monument Valley, a summit hike at Navajo Mountain and a trail run in the Chuska Mountains. In addition, the Tour riders conduct hundreds of hours of service work each summer, leaving a better rez in our wake. Hundreds of rez kids and families take part in the Tour each year.
Since 1995 Y.E.S. has sponsored the Chuska Challenge, the largest mountain bike event on the Navajo Nation. The Chuska brings together students and families from around the rez for a weekend of awesome riding, positive activities and stunning scenery on the Tsaile campus of Dine' College.
Our Backcountry Treks includes amazing wilderness adventures at Grand Canyon, Navajo Mountain, Rainbow Bridge, Supai, the San Juan Mountains and around the rez. We offer epic backpacking trips in the Grand Canyon throughout the year on established routes and remotes regions alike. This school year we are leading a "Four Seasons atop the Rez" series on Navajo Mountain, which includes a fall hiking, winter snowshowing, spring trail running and summer backpacking trip.
We sponsor year-round outings near T'iis Nazbas to Twin Falls, the highest waterfall on the rez. This amazing spectacle in the Carrizo Mountains offer an excellent venue for adventure and an opportunity for community service.
We offer several outings to college campuses to promote higher education among the students and schools with which we work. Fort Lewis College and Dine' College are two of our major partners with whom we plan outings that connect education and adventure.
Our school programs include classroom presentations and activities that encourage students to find their "natural high" and promote a healthy, drug-free lifetstyle. We also strive to instill a sense of pride in Dine' Bikeyah through our school-based programs and lead activities related to rez geography, local wildlife and landscapes. We also sponsor star parties at schools and dorms across the rez.
Since one of our missions is celebrating the wonders and beauty of Dine' Bikeyah, we have published a calendar since 2009 which seeks to honor some of the special places of Navajo country. Hundreds of the "Wonders of Dine' Bikeyah" calendar can be found in schools, homes and chapter houses across the rez!
College students have been engaging in educational, mentoring and service projects on the reservation through NavajoYES Alternative Spring Break project since 2000. Washington University in St. Louis, University of Maryland, Grinell College and University of Pennsylvania have all been involved in the project. We're eager to expand the project to encompasss more Navajo Nation schools and communities in the future.
We publish a newletter, "Tales from the Trail", which is available periodically throughout the year in print format and, soon hopefully, online.
Offering youth the empowering feeling that comes through service has been a long part of the mission of NavajoYES. We work with schools, communities and families on service projects, such as trail-building, tree-planting and park restoration across the reservation.
Our ongoing project at Buffalo Pass Picnic Area in the northern Chuskas is one example of empowering youth to make a difference in their own communities. We also have put in major efforts at Narbona Pass and Squirrel Springs in the southern Chuskas, have done irrigation work in Monument Valley and have provided maintenance on the Rainbow Bridge Trail for over two decades.
Since 2008, NavajoYES has partnered with the T'iis Nazbas Chapter in restoring the Twin Falls Trail leading to the highest waterfall on the Navajo Nation. The Tour de Rez began work this summer to undertake the next stage of the Carrizo Mountain trail project, with work on a mountain trail leading from T'iis into the highcountry of the Carrizos. This will be an ongoing project for the next several years, and we hope to add trailheads, signeage, benches and do wildflower seeding throughout the area over the next several years.
Other Activities and Projects
We partner with local schools, churches and organizations in implementing and supporting a litany of activities and projects for youth and families across the Navajo Nation. These community activities include Red Ribbon Week, literacy events, community runs, book drives, elder projects, cross country races, tournaments, sports contests, food drives, service projects and more. We love to be involved in positive, community-based projects, so please contact us if we can play a role in your community.
Some past accomplishments: The organization has been involved with a lively mix of other commnunity projects across the reservation. NavajoYES' involvement in a Writer's Project has led to reservation visits by such renown authors as Sherman Alexie and student presentations at the Nothern Arizona Book Festival. NavajoYES has also sponsored a martial arts program in Black Mesa and a boxing club in Kayenta. Our Tour de Rez Treks' project initiated the Cove Classic mountain bike event in 1996. NavajoYES also operated the Rainbow Sky Ropes Challenge for seven years before handing the day-to-day operations over to the local Kayenta school district in 2003. NavajoYES teamed with the IHS to operate the Tall Mountain Wilderness Camp, while a new partnership with the IHS was formed in 2003 in running the summertime Adventures in Medicine program for high school students interested in medical professions. Music Programs as diverse as varied as flutist R. Carlos Nakai, world beat group Burning Sky, reggae artist Walt Richardson, Dine' guitarist Clarence Clearwater and Navajo folk singer Vincent Craig have all performed under the NavajoYES banner over the past 15 years. Lynn Lynton and NavajoYES speahheadeded the production of the 1999 'Voices of the People' C.D. and in 2000-01, NavajoYES sponsored a reservation-wide Blackfire tour.