Teen Rites of passage summer trip

Hi there,

Looking for recommendations for summer programs for my 13-year-old teens that are all outdoors and are focused on inner exploration and tools as well as outdoor skills. Not needing a therapeutic wilderness program for troubled teens, but I am wanting a program that encourages some intentional self-reflection. Ideally more than 7 days and in California, but open to the outside of California. 

Parent Replies

Parents, want to reply to this question? Sign in to post.

My son liked the W.I.L.D program organized by Back to Earth. He especially liked the guides (great mentors!) and the sharing circles at the end of the day. The hikes and camping was hard but very doable for a novice. It was a great growth experience. https://www.backtoearth.org/

Check out https://www.backtoearth.org. My son has gone on two trips with them and loved it; the trips are rigorous but gave him a huge sense of accomplishment. 

Back to Earth is the MOST AMAZING and life-changing experience my son had. They did a 10-day backpacking trip in Yosemite with Jesse and some counselors. My son said he conquered fears and had an amazing time, despite how hard it was. Jesse, Eli, and Spencer all take such amazing care of the kids. Tell them I sent you. 

https://www.girlventures.org/ is a summer program with focus on outdoors adventures, but also lots of self-reflection time.  They offer various adventures, tied to various age groups, such as kayaking and backpacking.  The camps go for about a week.  Our daughter did this for 2 summers, and really liked the adventure and comraderie.  It is just for girls, as the name implies, but they do also welcome trans girls.

Outward Bound. That's what it's all about. My son did a program this summer and it was brilliant. While they do have "intercept" programs for those who need intervention, there classic programs are for enrichment, growth, reflection.

They have some for the West coast too = https://www.outwardbound.org/expedition-finder/?p=1&view=list&sort=&school=&columnsort=&age=13&from=06%2F23%2F2022&to=&month=&flexibility=&length_min=4&length_max=48&search=

We sent our 15 year old son on a NOLS backpacking trip in Wyoming and I absolutely can't say enough good things about them.  It was truly transformative for him - changed all of our lives really.  Looks like their youngest program is 14 so maybe keep them in mind for the future.

Our son also did a program with Spencer and he is great - I'm not sure what he is offering now. https://elementalnature.org/

This program also was highly recommended to us   https://www.backtoearth.org/

Lastly - try getting in touch with the folks who run this program - I think they might know other options:  https://www.vildanature.org/

Check out W.I.L.D. through Back to Earth. My some had an amazing time and sounds just what you are looking for.


My son went to some of these programs years back. https://hwos.com
headwaters outdoor school