Expedition Adventures, Not Just For Adults

WPA-Workers-in-Inwood-Hill-Park-1938.As a child, I grew up in New York City. My father used to take me on “nature walks” in Inwood Park, a rare place on the island of Manhattan where you can actually, barring the sound of Riverside Drive and the GW bridge off in the distance, feel like you were back in primitive New York. From this, my passion for the outdoors grew and grew.

As I grew up my parents sensed this, and tried to afford me every opportunity to get out and explore this passion. Outdoor expedition camps have been around for years, and offer experiential education that goes outside of the classroom and provides opportunities to kids from all walks of life to experience nature, independence, liberation and enlightenment.

As a backcountry leader today, I would not be where I am without having experienced these courses as a participant. There is immense potential for growth in every aspect of  the students who participate in these courses, and you may find that your child has learned more then they ever would have in one semester at school. Take a moment to read about these organizations that provide the highest level of professionalism, quality of experience, and unique personality in Youth Expeditions.

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Deer Hill Expeditions-

Deer Hill Expeditions was established by wilderness lovers Doug and Beverly Capelin. Both former teachers, they shared a vision to create a company that took kids to the middle of nowhere and back to find adventure, a deep appreciation for the outdoors, and sense of self.  Now in its thirtieth year, Deer Hill Expeditions has evolved into an amazing success that truly stands apart from other expedition companies. Nestled in the four corners area, Deer Hill Expeditions offers a diverse variety of courses all over the Southwest as well as locations in Central America focusing on: outdoor leadership, cross cultural service work, rock-climbing, mountaineering, canyoneering and rafting. The most amazing thing about Deer Hill is their diverse and wholesome curriculum. Their staff has grown up leading trips through the backcountry, river running, and generally chasing their dreams; most of them are Deer Hill Graduates themselves.

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Aside from the staff and the curriculum, the relationships they have fostered over the years with various families on Zuni, Navajo and Ute tribes are authentic, beautiful and sacred. Go to Deer Hill with an open mind to experience things you never thought possible. Their devotion to your children’s experience is second to none, and truly captures the essence of Doug and Beverley’s vision they had thirty years ago.

Their website is a wonderful resource, and offers information on the Deer Hill Foundation, which awards scholarships to students unable to pay tuition fees. Please check these guys out! The Deer Hill Family is always expending with each new participant, and is a lasting relationship. DHE operates completely by word of mouth so spread the good word!




NOLS (National Outdoor Leadership School)-

NOLS is the premier Outdoor Leadership School, associated with WMI (Wilderness Medical Institute), and publisher of many books on wilderness survival, medicine, camping etc.. Founded in 1965 by famous climber Paul Petzoldt (who climbed Grand Teton at age 16 in cowboy boots!), NOLS has mastered its mission of bringing its students to remote places to learn valuable technical outdoors skills, leadership qualities, and environmental ethics. NOLS offers courses all over the world, gap programs between college semesters and year-long programs. WMI courses, available through NOLS partner medical school WMI will qualify you for any outdoor industry job you could want. Essentially the industry standard of backcountry medicine, WMI is an excellent resource for people looking to learn the skills for leadership rolls on NOLS trips. No, they don’t make you climb Teton in cowboy boots!



Outward Bound-

Outward Bound has a history which dates back to the early-mid 1900’s. It came to America in the 1950s, after it was first conceived as an instructional program for young sailors. Influenced by Kurt Hahn, founder of two progressive schools in Scotland, Outward Bound was, and has always been about “experiential learning to include real and powerful experience to gain self-esteem, the discovery of innate abilities, and a sense of responsibility toward others”. Couldn’t have said it better myself! Founded on these principals, it is no wonder why Outward Bound now offers courses at eight different schools, as well as several “contact schools” and other programs. In the years since the first school was founded in Golden, CO, c.1961, Outward Bound has become one of the most premier experiential education outfit in the country, and traveling the world. They offer programs for at risk youth, professional groups, and just about every type of team building experience imaginable, contoured to your specific group. Check out their website for more information!


This summer is an excellent opportunity to send your kids away to an experiential learning/expedition camp. If your child shows interest in the outdoors, there is so much more that can be discovered by supporting that interest. Unlock these doors for your children and watch them grow!


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