Written by Mary Murphy
The Ritt Kellogg Memorial Fund (RKMF) was started in 1995 in honor of Ritt Kellogg, a Colorado College grad who tragically died in an avalanche in Alaska. He and two friends were climbing at the time. Kellogg’s family established the fund in order to support future CC students in growing, learning, and exploring the outdoors. The fund supports not only outdoor expedition grants, but education grants as well, so students may learn techniques from instructional experiences that focus on outdoor sports and wilderness survival skills.
So far, “the Ritt Kellogg Memorial Fund has provided 320 students with expedition funding, resulting in 134 successful expeditions and countless life-changing experiences,” according to CC’s webpage on the Ritt Kellogg Fund. While most students at CC are aware of the endless outdoor opportunities, some may still not fully understand how valuable this fund is to the school and to students.
Proposals for Ritt Kellogg expeditions or education opportunities are accepted once a year on the first day of half block. The process for applying and the guidelines are very simple. Students may propose any trip that is wilderness based and focuses on backcountry skills. Solo expeditions are not allowed. Proper certifications and equipment (such as a WFR certification and First Aid supplies) are necessary to receive funding.
Students may propose trips that explore any wilderness area in North America, and may cover a wide range of activities: white-water kayaking, backpacking, climbing, mountaineering, and canoeing are just a few examples. Proposals must include detailed descriptions of a budget, preparation and trip plans, and actions to be taken in case of an emergency. After the trip is completed, the students’ only requirement is to give back to other students. This may be achieved by either presenting a slideshow on their experience or by writing an article explaining their excursion and what they learned.
Grace Brofman, Outdoor Education Officer and Coordinator of the Ritt Kellogg Fund explained, “Oftentimes skills that students gain through Education Grant funding enable them to lead trips for Outdoor Education that get more CC students experiencing the outdoors. Overall, the hope is that these experiences instill the same sense of wonder and appreciation for wild places that Kellogg had, and that this is spread to the broader CC community.”
The Ritt Kellogg Fund is an invaluable and unique tool that exists primarily so CC students may learn through greater exposure to the outdoors. While some colleges like Earlham College and Montreat College have outdoor experience programs, these programs usually consist of shorter expeditions (1-6 days) and are either offered for credit to Outdoor Education majors or simply as “after-school” programs to get students into the outdoors.
CC is one of few schools that have cultivated an Outdoor Education program. “I have yet to hear of anything similar to the Ritt Kellogg Fund at any other school,” said Brofman. “We’re extremely fortunate to have this resource. While the RKMF is only loosely tied in with Outdoor Education as a whole, for many students it’s a culminating experience of time spent and skills learned at CC.”
CC is unique in that this fund is supported by a group of mountaineers, outdoorsmen and women, academics, and outdoor educators who make up the Advisory Committee. Ritt Kellogg’s family formed this committee when they started the fund. They wanted to make sure that students who received these grants valued the opportunity to visit remote and unique places as well as gain valuable technical skills. This committee is enthusiastic to support CC students in increasing their knowledge and experience, not just as individuals, but as members of a community that prides itself in academic and outdoor excellence.