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This 14-day adventure offers young women* identifying teenagers from diverse backgrounds the opportunity to explore our coastal waterways via kayak, go expeditionary backpacking, learn primitive camping skills, and form incredible new friendships with a cohort of peers.
The journey begins in San Francisco, where we spend our first day bonding as a team, playing ice breaker games, and settling in to the course mindset. We then travel to Tomales Bay and learn the fundamentals of sea kayaking – how to use a rudder, paddle in coordination with a teammate, and how tides and currents affect a boat’s motion. During this training time we spend our evenings in the coastal town of Inverness, tuning into our environment and learning about the California ecosystems and watershed. The group then embarks on a 5 day/4 night adventure on Tomales Bay, spending each night on a secluded boat-in beach campsite. Upon returning from our sea kayaking adventure, we spend another 4 days and 3 nights backpacking the coastal bluffs and serene forests of Point Reyes National Seashore, a jewel of California’s park system and an attraction for tourists worldwide.
* “Young women” refers to gender expansive youth (cis girls, trans girls, non-binary youth, gender non-conforming youth, gender queer youth and any young women-identified youth)
Participants meet in San Francisco and begin the day with a welcoming introduction as we meet the teammates that we will be spending the next fourteen days with. We will learn play ice breaker activities, do goal setting and travel to Point Reyes National Seashore, where we will be spending our next two weeks. In the evening we learn how to set up tents and cook outdoors, and hold our first nightly council circle.
We spend our first few 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.
The last leg of our trip takes us backpacking along the unparalleled coastline of Point Reyes National Seashore. Hiking along this beautiful landscape will be our final journey as we navigate the coastal bluffs, flat grasslands, and riparian ecosystems intertwined along the seashore. 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 spend our days learning about the environment, while evenings will be spent cooking together, enjoying ocean sunsets and gazing at the inspiring views of the Milky Way Galaxy.
Graduation Day! This is a gathering in San Francisco. We invite our friends and family to watch a slideshow of our adventure, and share with them the highlights of our journey and the lessons we have learned. Afterwards the group will say their last goodbyes and farewells, and each student will return to their homes with their guardians.
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