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This 14-day adventure offers teenagers an inclusive environment to experience the natural beauty of northern California wilderness. Students will explore the Tomales Bay waterway via kayak, and learn to navigate whitewater rafting on the South fork of the American River.
Participants of all abilities join together to challenge themselves and to develop outdoor leadership skills. Learning how to face their fears and embrace their strengths, the students work together as a team to meet their challenges head on and rise as leaders. With a focus on creativity and inclusion, they discover ways to make adventures and activities both safe and adventurous for everyone involved.
The trip begins with a welcoming introduction as we meet the teammates that we will be spending the next fourteen days with. We will learn new names and play ice breaker activities to get to know our group, and then we will jump in a van and drive across the Golden Gate Bridge to Marin. In the evening we hold our first nightly council circle where we enjoy the process of debriefing our day, sharing about ourselves, and learning about each other. We then divide into teams and establish group agreements and leadership roles. We spend our second day paddling along the waters of Sausalito, learning the essential skills of sea kayaking.
We head to Heart’s Desire Beach on Pt. Reyes Peninsula to embark on an expeditionary paddle. We pack a fleet of kayaks full of everything we need to spend the next four nights: tents, stoves, clothing, food, sleeping bags, etc. We take time to connect to the nature around us and reflect on our relationships with each other and the earth. We learn to live simply and close to nature, spending our nights sleeping outdoors and our days learning the primitive skills of kayaking.
The second half of our adventure brings us to the South Fork of the American River. Here, we’ll discover the thrill and adventure of whitewater rafting on the South Fork of the American River, as well as learn the technical skills to do so safely. Instructors train you to navigate rapids and students take turns leading each other down Class I-II sections of the river. The more challenging Class III sections will be safely run by knowledgeable and experienced guides.
The group will have the unique experience of staying at the ETC River Camp along with a group of mixed ability adults. This YLP cohort will have the empowering experience of being Assistant Guides on an ETC Disability trip – helping people in chairs and with visual impairments, Cerebral Paulsy, or other ability needs navigate the camp property and get in and out of boats.
We will also spend some time off of the water as well, learning about the history of the Coloma area, going on day hikes and finding private swimming holes to cool off in. Each day we will come back to the comfort of ETC’s beautiful and accessible river camp to cook dinner in the open-air kitchen and continue our nightly councils. Every night we will sleep under the magnificence of the Milky Way Galaxy with the lullaby of the river putting us to bed.
Graduation Day! This is a potluck gathering in San Francisco. We invite our friends and family to watch a slideshow of our adventure while we share the highlights of our journey and the lessons we have learned. Afterwards we will say goodbye to our new group of friends, and travel back home with our guardians.