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This sea kayak and backpacking experience offers youth of all genders the opportunity to explore the outdoors and themselves in a challenging and fun way. Participants will spend two magical weeks of their summer sea kayaking on Tomales Bay and backpacking in the wilderness of the High Sierras in Desolation Wilderness. Students will explore coastal and alpine environments of Northern California, and will get immersed in the world-renowned flora, fauna, and sunsets that California has to offer.
The trip begins with a welcoming introduction as we meet our teammates in San Francisco. We spend the morning playing getting-to-know you games, discussing our hopes and fears, and overviewing the trip. We then load our gear into vans and head to Tomales Bay in Marin County. That evening we will learn about course leadership positions, how to set up tents, use camping stoves, clean gear, and more. In the evening we hold our first nightly council circle where we enjoy the process of debriefing our day, reflecting on our lives, and getting to know our teammates on a deeper level.
We spend our first days bonding with our new teammates, and learning the technical skills of sea kayaking. We will become experts in what to wear on the water, how to paddle correctly, and even practice capsizing and rescuing other boaters. Once we are comfortable in our kayaks, we will pack them with all the gear, food, and water that we need for 4 days and we will embark on our Tomales Bay journey. We will spend each day kayaking to exciting new beaches, learning about wildlife, and laughing with new friends. Experienced guides will teach you about the history of the area, the wildlife that calls Tomales Bay home, and help you become strong and competent sea kayakers. You will live simply and close to nature, needing only what you pack into a dry bag and sleeping on beaches with the sound of crashing water singing you to sleep each night.
We leave the San Francisco Bay and drive to the High Sierras for 4 nights of expedition backpacking. We will be in Desolation Wilderness near beautiful Lake Tahoe. The challenge of backpacking and carrying only our essential needs gives us the opportunity to gain confidence and feel empowered, as well as the solitude to reflect on our experiences. We will take time to connect to the nature around us and reflect on our relationships with each other and the earth, all while sharing of ourselves, laughing, and relishing bonding with new friends. While traveling through the scenic alpine environments, we will get to swim in freshwater lakes and identify countless wildflowers, each night enjoying the canopy of stars above us.
Graduation Day! This is a gathering in San Francisco with our friends and families. We invite our loved ones to join us as we watch a slideshow of our adventure while sharing the highlights, stories, and laughter of our journey one last time before departing ways.
ETC strives to make outdoor experiences accessible to all regardless of ability or financial status. We offer a range of scholarships for students and encourage everyone to apply.
If you would like to apply for a scholarship, please click HERE to access the Youth LEAD Scholarship Application. For the Spanish version please click HERE
Once you have been accepted on a YLP course, to secure your reservation, your course deposit is due within two weeks of receiving your acceptance. This is 50% of your cost of the course and is necessary to hold your spot on the trip.
Program Cost: $3,500