21-Day Sea to Source Course

June 25 – July 15, 2024



This 21-day adventure offers teens of all backgrounds a thrilling and educational journey along some of the most scenic landscapes California has to offer. Students will explore our coastal waterways via kayak, navigate whitewater rafting, go expeditionary backpacking, learn primitive camping skills, and form incredible new friendships with a cohort of peers! Students will co-create an inclusive environment while learning about the beautiful California wilderness, outdoor leadership, and environmental stewardship.

This expedition includes sea kayaking on the stunning Tomales Bay near Point Reyes, whitewater rafting on the South Fork of the American River while base-camping at ETC River Camp in Lotus, and backpacking through the iconic Sierra Nevadas. Students will learn how watersheds link the mountains to the sea and connect the wilderness to our homes. Participants gain outdoor skills, become environmental stewards, and discover the leader within them all. On day 21 of their journey, students will return to San Francisco to a graduation ceremony with loved ones.



Day 1
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 goals, 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 Evening Meeting  where we enjoy the process of debriefing our day, reflecting on our lives, and getting to know our teammates on a deeper level. 

Sea Kayaking

Days 2-7
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 how to navigate our sea kayaks. 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 our days kayaking to exciting new beaches, learning about wildlife, going on hikes, 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!

Whitewater Rafting

Days 8-14
We leave the San Francisco Bay and drive to ETC River Camp in Lotus, CA where we settle into ETC’s beautiful and accessible property. The river land is on the bank of the South Fork American River, where we will have  time to explore the thrill and adventure of whitewater rafting while having a consistent camp space to return to each evening. Instructors train the students to navigate rapids, and students eventually take turns guiding the boats down Class I-II sections of the river. The more challenging Class III sections will be safely run by knowledgeable and experienced river guides, with ample time for white water excitement. 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 our beautiful river camp to cook dinner in the gorgeous open-air kitchen and continue our Evening Meetings. . Every night will be spent sleeping under the stars and listening to the rustling pine trees as the river sings a bedtime lullaby! 


Days 15-20
On our 15th day we will drive to the trailhead in the Sierra Nevadas and begin hiking, bringing only what fits in our large backpacks. 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 our experiences, 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. 

Road Trip Home & Graduation

Day 21
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 parting ways with our adventure buddies


Program Cost

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: $5,250