Youth LEAD Program

“During my ETC journey, I began to feel free again. Waking up to blue skies with the sun on my skin and falling asleep with the twinkling stars overhead ignited a childlike curiosity in me. While backpacking at Point Reyes, I not only grew in physical strength, but I also gained knowledge of ecosystems and the human impacts on our coastal ranges and waters.


Throughout my ETC adventure, I was reminded of the vastness of our world and the endless opportunities to protect it. I’ve become more conscious of my actions, how they impact our Earth, and what I can do at home and school to protect our water from contamination and our native flora and fauna from extinction. With the right attitude and tenacity, I can accomplish anything. In life, just like the ocean, tides will change and winds will shift, but with the right effort and state of mind, we can make the world a better place!”


– Luna Buoncristiani, ETC Youth LEAD Young Womens’ Course

Due to COVID-19 restrictions our Winter Program is postponed until the 2021-2022 season. 

ETC’s Youth LEAD Program (YLP) provides life-changing outdoor experiences for youth from diverse cultural and economic backgrounds. Our program offers 2-3 week summer wilderness courses, and a school-year Fellowship Program for selected summer course alumni. During their YLP journey, students experience exciting outdoor activities which empower them with new leadership skills and broaden their connections to the natural world. Outdoor components include sea kayaking on San Francisco and Tomales Bays, backpacking in the Sierras, and whitewater rafting on the South Fork of the American River or Oregon’s Rogue River.

Youth LEAD trips have a powerful impact on our students. The challenge of backpacking while carrying only essential needs, kayaking in open water, or navigating the rapids on a whitewater river provides young people the opportunity to gain confidence and feel empowered, as well as the chance to experience solitude in nature. Participants build leadership skills while working together, develop communication and decision-making skills, increase their self-awareness, and translate course plans into action. Along the way, students step out of their comfort zone to try new things, learn from their challenges, develop new technical skills, expand self efficacy, and build lifelong friendships!

2021 Summer Courses

14-Day Access to Adventure
(All Gender)

This 14-day adventure offers teenagers with and without disabilities an  inclusive environment to experience natural and historic treasures. Students kayak on San Francisco Bay, live in a renovated Civil War building on Angel Island, and go whitewater rafting on the American River.

Tuesday, June 15 – Monday, June 28, 2021

14-Day Young Women’s Point Reyes Course

This 14-day adventure offers femme-identifying teenagers an immersive experience in the Point Reyes National Seashore, exploring the Tomales Bay waterway via kayak, going expeditionary backpacking along the ocean bluffs, and learning primitive camping skills, all with a cohort of their peers.

Wednesday, June 23 – Tuesday, July 6, 2021

21-Day Young Women’s Sea to Source

This 21-day journey creates a supportive and empowering environment for a female cohort of teenagers to engage in a challenging life-changing experience. The course includes kayaking on Tomales Bay,  backpacking the iconic High Sierra, and learning to navigate whitewater rapids on the American River.

Tuesday, July 6 – Monday, July 26, 2021

22-Day Sea to Source
(All Gender)

This 22-day expedition offers teenagers from all backgrounds thrilling adventures  along some of the most scenic landscapes in California, including sea kayaking on Tomales Bay, backpacking through the High Sierra, a 3-day farm stay, and whitewater rafting on the South Fork of the American River.

Tuesday, July 13 – Tuesday, August 3, 2021

YouthLEAD Fellowship

Note: Due to Covid-19, this program is postponed until Fall of 2021. 

ETC’ s Youth LEAD Fellowship is a school year opportunity for selected graduates of our summer courses to further develop their leadership skills through camping, weekly meetings, workshops, activities, and training as Assistant Sea Kayak Guides.


Questions about ETC’s Youth LEAD courses?
Please contact Youth LEAD Program Manager at or call 415-474-7662 ext. 16.