Teen Wilderness Adventures
• Develop a connection to the outdoors. Challenge yourself. Build friendships. Learn new skills AND have a blast outside this summer!
• Featuring: Backpacking, Climbing, Kayaking, Canoeing, and Multi-sport trips designed for 12-18 year olds
•Explore the White Mountains, Maine, and New York on a summer adventure
• Graduated High School but still want more? Check out our Gap-Year Semester Program
Questions? See our FAQ Page for more info!
Teen Wilderness Programs
About Teen Wilderness adventures
We offer exciting, rewarding outdoor adventure education for youth ages 12-18 ranging in length from 5-20 days. Teen Wilderness Adventures combine one or more outdoor activities–like hiking, rock climbing, backpacking, kayaking, canoeing, rafting, –with spectacular destinations. Group size on our programs ranges from 6 to 10, and each of our trips has at least two instructors at all times. Teen Wilderness Adventures participants learn valuable wilderness skills and develop essential life skills. This unique combination fosters an appreciation for the environment, develops self-esteem, instills a spirit of adventure, and promotes teamwork, friendship, and a sense of community through memorable wilderness experiences.
AMC’s professional instructors are dedicated, energetic, and talented leaders experienced in working with youth. All of our instructors are certified in wilderness medicine, trained in water safety, and have strong backcountry skills. They come from a wide variety of backgrounds and life experiences and are committed to providing youth with a fun and educational excursion in the outdoors while maximizing the safety of all participants.
Choose Your Adventure
All of our programs offer fun and adventure, but choosing the best program is as individual as each participant.
5-10 day trips to beautiful destinations by way of backpack, canoe, or kayak. These trips focus on mastery of one or two of these classic outdoor skills.
Offers a taste of several skills and experiences while maintaining a sense of a longer expedition. Ranging from 5 to 10 days in length, these adventures combine activities like hiking, backpacking, canoeing, rock climbing, and whitewater. If you’re new to the fun of outdoor pursuits or think a more relaxed pace is for you, try our 2 Intro Adventures that sample hiking, canoeing, and rock climbing at an introductory level.
These programs range in length from 7 to 20 days and teach the skills to be a competent outdoor leader in the backcountry with wilderness navigation, teamwork, decision making & group development. These programs are unique because they teach more advanced skills and involve more challenges than our standard programs.
Adventures by Activity
Backpacking remains one of the most popular outdoor activities in New England, and we explore some of the most striking mountainous terrain in the East. We camp at AMC or U.S. Forest Service shelter sites, designated tenting areas, or at our own low-impact sites and learn Leave No Trace techniques to protect these wild and beautiful areas. Most trips average four to six miles per day, and we carry all the camping gear and food we’ll need. Our trips in New Hampshire explore the 770,000-acre White Mountain National Forest. With several Wilderness Areas and world-famous mountain ranges, the forest offers some of New England’s premier hiking. Some of the places we explore include the Southern Presidentials, the Franconia Notch area, the Carter and Mahoosuc Ranges, and the Pemigewasset Wilderness area. Backpacking trips also adventure to The Devil’s Path in the Catskills of New York, Harriman State Park (New York), and the 100-Mile Wilderness and Katahdin region of Maine.
Look for bald eagles in their nests and enjoy the calls of the loons as you canoe through the scenic Rangeley Lakes and river systems of Maine and New Hampshire. We will review basic canoe strokes and techniques, group safety issues, water navigation skills, and open-water rescue skills. Daily paddles over flatwater, perhaps with a swim in between, will lead us to our evening camp where we enjoy delicious meals and watch the sunset. Depending on our route, some portaging may be required.
Learn to make your way confidently up famous rock faces. Using provided equipment at established climbing sites, we will learn standard rock-climbing techniques, how to belay, rope-handling skills, and rock-site safety practices. Rock-climbing sections last one to three days and, conditions permitting, culminate in a multi-pitch climb on the last day. All technical and rock-climbing equipment will be supplied. Professional climbing guides join the group from EMS Climbing School, an AMGA accredited business.
During this thrilling session, you will navigate the rapids of rivers such as the Androscoggin, Magalloway, and Saco. Using provided equipment we will learn kayaking techniques, how to read the river, and how to use the currents to your advantage. Programs will start on flatwater, then move onto quickwater, and finally onto Class I, II, and possibly III whitewater. Instruction will be provided by Great Glen Trails Outdoor Center (ACA accredited) along with AMC instructors. Groups basecamp at a campground and paddle during the day.
White Water Rafting
Spend a memorable day or two rafting the rapids of the pristine rivers winding through the scenic boarder region of Western Maine and Northern New Hampshire. Professional guides from the Enriched Learning Center, in Berlin, New Hampshire lead these exiting adventures on Class II, III or IV rapids. In this region, rich with woods lore and history, you’ll negotiate the same rapids and waves that were once used by northern loggers to start their timber supply down northern headwaters toward market. The Androscoggin, Magalloway and Rapid Rivers offer plenty of excitement as the group works together to paddle their raft as well as provide great riverside lunch spots and the chance to encounter wildlife such as moose, osprey, and eagles.
Cancel 30 days or more and you get a full refund
14-29 days you get a 70% refund
Less than 14 days is no refund
70-DAY OUTDOOR CONSERVATION AND LEADERSHIP GAP SEMESTER
College Credit Available!
Date and Time:
Sunday, September 9, 2018 – Saturday, November 17, 2018
Want to develop your backcountry leadership skills? Would you like to learn or improve upon trail work skills, community service, and volunteer experiences? Want to go a step further and grow as a leader in the outdoors? This is the perfect program for you.
A Leave No Trace Master Educator course and a Wilderness First Responder certification course are part of the curriculum, and will provide you both the experience and the credentials to pursue both careers and advanced personal skills in the outdoors.
Wilderness Backpacking and Canoeing skills will be learned, practiced, and mastered. Advanced trail work training and the opportunity to build upon your skills while completing a variety of trail projects are an integral component of this expedition as well.
Students will engage in intensive community building through rugged wilderness travel adventures all over the Northeast- from Northern New Hampshire, to the Delaware Water Gap. The program will start and end at AMC’s Pinkham Notch Visitor Center in the White Mountains of New Hampshire. Locations throughout the program may include but are not limited to: *Camp Dodge Volunteer Center in Pinkham Notch, New Hampshire the White Mountains and Presidential Range, Noble View Outdoor Center in Massachusetts’ Pioneer Valley, and Mohican Outdoor Center in New Jersey’s Delaware Water Gap.
At all locations an AMC facility will be utilized as a jumping off point for “spiking out” in the backcountry. All travel expenses while on course are covered in full by the enrollment fee.
Adult: $9,099 member / $9,999 non-member
**Prices include instruction, transportation during the course, all meals from lunch the first day through lunch the last day, group equipment (tents, stoves, pots/pans, etc.), and all camping fees during the program.
Teen and College Adventure Programs Manager
Our Staff: The AMC’s professional instructors are dedicated, energetic, and talented leaders experienced in working with youth and young adults. All our instructors are trained and/or certified in wilderness medicine, water safety, Leave No Trace principles, and have strong backcountry skills and ethics. They come from a wide variety of backgrounds and life experiences and are committed to providing youth with a fun and educational experience in the outdoors while maximizing the safety of all participants. At least two instructors, except in emergencies, will be with the group for the entire trip.
Equipment & Clothing: The AMC provides all group gear, including tents, backcountry kitchen supplies, water purification, and navigation equipment. A trip specific packing list is included in this packet. Participants may also borrow personal equipment/clothing, see equipment list for items that are available to borrow. Instructors complete a full equipment check and issue on the first morning with trip participants as well as before each new phase of the trip. During this time they will issue all clothing and equipment requested for borrow. We will contact you well in advance of the trip if we are unable to fulfill your request.
Limited storage is available during the trip. If the trip includes more than one activity, the group will either return to Pinkham Notch for a brief time to replace or exchange clothing and gear or their extra bags will be brought to them in the field between activities. We can store items that might be needed for one activity but not another. For example, we can store a pair of hiking boots once the backpacking segment is complete and the paddling portion is about to start. We can also store a separate bag with clean clothes for the ride home.
Our Expectations: Applicants will be screened before acceptance to verify the Gap Year program is the right fit. While we are not looking for outdoor experts, it is important that each candidate have had some experience living in the outdoors within peer groups and is physically fit for endurance of each activity. In addition each student will receive a grade after each segment and to maximize retention in the learning environment, we expect each student to take the course seriously. We also expect a desire to try new things and face new challenges individually and as a team. Students are expected to support each other both in the learning environment and within the daily living schedule; assisting with meal prep, clean-up, load/unload of equipment, and other chores with the help and guidance of the instructors. We seek enthusiasm, commitment, and a positive attitude from our students!
Food: Participants eat three full meals a day, as well as plenty of snacks. We provide fresh food, probably similar to what is eaten at home, although we might ask participants to try something new. Favorite meals include pastas, burritos, stir-fry, hamburgers, bagels and cream cheese or peanut butter and jelly, dry and hot cereal, cookies, granola, fruit, and hot chocolate, coffee, or tea for chilly evenings and mornings. We can easily accommodate most dietary restrictions; let us know in advance so we can plan accordingly! All the participants help prepare and clean up after meals. You will learn to use a camp stove and prepare delicious backcountry meals.
Week 1: The first evening will be spent at AMC’s Camp Dodge Facility completing a trip orientation with Instructors & packing for the first backpacking section. On the morning of the second day, the group will be transported to the trailhead to begin backpacking in the White Mountain National Forest of New Hampshire. This initial backpacking section is an opportunity for the group to get to know each other, learn the skills needed to be comfortable and successful on extended backpacking trips, develop group norms, and explore the rugged beauty of New Hampshire’s White Mountains.
Week 2: Backpacking & LNT Master Educator Course: The Master Educator Course provides participants with a comprehensive training in Leave No Trace skills and ethics, through practical application in a field-based setting. The first day is spent in a classroom, introducing the course and schedule, providing in-depth information on the overall Leave No Trace program and the Center for Outdoor Ethics, reviewing gear, and packing. The remaining four days are spent in the field on a short backcountry trip, learning and practicing the principles of Leave No Trace. This component includes each participant teaching one of the principles to the rest of the group. The principle will be assigned prior to arrival so you can begin preparing your lesson.
Week 3: During this section you will travel to the scenic Lakes and river systems of western Maine or northern New Hampshire for the canoeing section. Upon arrival at our put-in, we will review the basic canoe strokes and techniques, group safety issues, how to pack a canoe properly, basic water navigation skills and open water rescue skills. After the review, the group will paddle to the first campsite. During the next few days, you will explore the lakes and refine canoeing skills as you paddle three to eight miles of flat water each day to a new campsite. There are often opportunities to spot wildlife and become familiar with the natural history of this beautiful region.
Week 4: Backpacking in the White Mountains of New Hampshire: This week is an opportunity to continue developing backpacking skills and working together as a group, in new and different terrain. The 770,000-acre White Mountain National Forest (WMNF) offers some of New England’s premier hiking, with several Wilderness Areas and striking mountain ranges. We will hike five to ten miles a day over mountainous terrain, through hardwood and boreal forests and past alpine bogs. Some of the places we may explore include the Southern Presidentials and the Dry River Wilderness, the Mahoosuc Range, or the Pemigewasset Wilderness Area, just to name a few.
Week 5: Introduction to Trail Work: Based at AMC’s Camp Dodge Volunteer Center in the White Mountains, 4 miles north of the PNVC. Experienced Trail Crew Leaders will introduce you to a variety of trail maintenance and restoration projects in the White Mountains. Orientation to trail work tools, methods of use, body mechanics, and safety will be the first lessons taught. Projects may include: clearing or building drainage ditches, brushing back vegetation, hardening trails with gravel, constructing bog bridges, or building rock staircases. Work locations will be in the front country averaging 6 to 8 hours each day in the field working on projects. A variety of tasks will be rotated through and changed from day to day. Upon return to the Volunteer Center, students will learn how best to clean and sharpen the tools they’ve used.
Week 6: Town Day: The participants will have the opportunity to go into town for several hours before transitioning to Cardigan Lodge in NH’s Lakes Region. They will have the chance to visit an outdoor gear store, local shops, use their cell phones to check in with home, and have a meal in town. This is a nice way to take a small break from the rigor of trail-work and backcountry living. However participants are still on-course and are expected to adhere to all program policies on this day.
Trail Work Continued: AMC’s Cardigan Lodge & Campsites boast 1,200 acres of surrounding pristine forest, streams, and waterfalls on the East side of Cardigan mountain. Adjacent is NH’s Cardigan Mountain State Park which owns the property on the Western side of the mountain. AMC’s 50 miles of trails around the lodge have a long history of maintenance by various groups and volunteers. Trail Work Projects will be similar to those described above but also allow for more in depth and advanced projects as time allows. Locations of projects will be in the back country where the group will hike to a remote cabin with a wood stove, bunks, and outdoor privy, and engage in projects in the surrounding area. The first night after returning from town, the group will stay at a front country AMC lodge as well as the last two nights for some much needed respite from the woods, and the chance to clean up before the next adventure.
Week 7: Leadership Development Backpacking: Southern NH. In this section the group will dive deeper into exploring how to be strong Outdoor Leaders. Participants will take on more responsibility as “Leaders of the day” and learn about different leadership styles, situational leadership, qualities of effective leadership, conflict resolution, risk management, decision making, and backcountry teaching skills, while backpacking through the Sunapee & Monadnock region of New Hampshire.
Week 8: Transition to AMC’s Noble View Outdoor Center in Russell, Massachusetts for WFR. Wilderness First Responder ~ An instructor from Stonehearth Open Learning Opportunities (SOLO) will meet us at Noble View and spend 8 days teaching the standards and skills of dealing with emergencies in the wilderness. This experiential section has plenty of hands-on scenarios, including mock rescue practice. Particular emphasis is placed on preventing backcountry emergencies through proper trip planning and equipment selection. Participants will receive a 75-Hour Wilderness First Responder certification (valid for three years) and CPR upon successful completion of this section. This certification is the recognized industry standard for those who work as backcountry trip leaders, camp counselors, mountain and river guides and ski patrollers. Accommodations here are in a large cabin with an upstairs sleeping area, downstairs living room and kitchen. A bathhouse with showers is a short walk away.
Week 9: Leadership Development Backpacking: Upstate NY’s Catskills. The group continues refining their skills, by taking all of the accumulated experiences and practicing lessons learned in teaching, decision making, and outdoor leadership. This week will entail a series of scenarios that could come up in the backcountry while leading groups. Students work individually and as a team to problem solve.
Week 10: Leadership Development-Final Expedition & Trail Service Spike project:
Final Challenge Backpacking Expedition ~ This culminating event will test everything learned up to this point. The group will independently plan a three-day backpacking trip. The participants will plan the route (including emergency plans), plan food & meals, choose equipment, and arrange all other details of the trip. The instructors will “shadow” the group, hiking and camping approximately one half mile behind the group. The group, supported by their first-aid training and new leadership skills will have the experience of leading a wilderness trip autonomously. For this section the instructors may choose to split the group in half into two small groups depending on group numbers and dynamics. Either way, this section is a rewarding capstone to the leadership development phases of this trip.
Final Service Project: AMC’s Mohican Outdoor Center – in the National Scenic Delaware Water Gap in New Jersey will allow students to work on an advanced trail project using previous skills learned. Much of the surrounding land is overseen by the U.S. National Parks Department and students will have the opportunity to witness land manager collaborations and agencies working together toward a common goal of conservation. Projects could take place on National Park Service land in New Jersey or Pennsylvania, or on one of the local AMC trails at the Mohican Outdoor Center.
For this final project, the group will independently plan logistics for four days of trail service. Participants will plan the route (including emergency plans), food & meals, choose equipment and tools, and arrange all other details of the project. The instructors will “shadow” the group, checking-in and offering backup if needed. The group, supported by their first-aid training and new leadership skills will have the experience of leading the project autonomously. For this section the instructors may choose to split the group in half into two small groups depending on group numbers and dynamics. This section is a rewarding capstone to the service component of this course.
The group will return north to the Pinkham Notch Visitor Center in the White Mountains of NH where they will de-issue any borrowed group equipment, debrief their trip, receive evaluations and feedback from their instructors and say their goodbyes to one another. They will depart with increased confidence in their outdoor leadership and trail conservation skills, a deeper appreciation for and connection to the outdoors, and be prepared to take on whatever challenge comes next!
Frequently Asked Questions
When and where do my trips start and end?
If your trip takes place in New Hampshire or Maine, the start and end location is Pinkham Notch Visitor Center in the White Mountains of New Hampshire. If your trip takes place in New York, the start and end location is Harriman Outdoor Center. Trips begin at 9am on the first day and pickup is at 3pm on the last day of the trip.
Who signs up for these adventures?
Teens like you sign up because they love being outside, challenging themselves in new ways, meeting new friends, and learning interesting things about the places they visit.
Should I sign up with a friend?
Most of our participants come without a friend and look forward to making new ones, which happens quickly on our trips. Still, we don’t prohibit friends from signing up. Either way, we strive to create a community of people on each trip where there are no “cliques” and exclusions. If you and a friend do come, we will expect you both to integrate with the entire group and partake in the fun of getting to know new people.
Are scholarships available?
Yes! If financial constraints are prohibiting you from signing up for a Teen Wilderness Adventure, please call or email the Education Programs Coordinator for more information on how to apply for scholarship assistance and/or download our application form here (PDF, 25 KB). You may reach the Coordinator at 603-466-8125, or email Chelsea at CKendrick@outdoors.org. Scholarship applications are reviewed starting February 1st, and awards are made on a rolling basis through the Spring.
What if I’ve never done any of these activities before?
No prior experience is necessary to participate in a Teen Wilderness Adventure, with the exception of the Leadership Training Program. In fact, we have designed some Adventures as introductory experiences. We’ll teach you all the skills you need to succeed and have a good time. You do not have to be athletic to enjoy any of the activities, but you will have a more comfortable experience if you pursue a simple routine of regular exercise beginning a few months before your trip.
If I’ve taken a Teen Wilderness Adventure before, can I do it again?
Of course! We’d love to have you back. Many of our participants return, often come back for a longer trip, a new activity, or to advance their skills on the Leadership Training Backpack. Even if you return for the same trip, it will be a completely new experience with new friends and instructors.
What will I eat?
You will be offered three full meals each day including plenty of snacks. We provide fresh food, probably similar to what you eat at home, but we might ask you to try something new. Favorite meals include various pastas, burritos, stir-fry, hamburgers, bagels and cream cheese or peanut butter and jelly, dry and hot cereal, cookies, granola, fruit, and hot chocolate for chilly evenings and mornings. We easily accommodate most dietary restrictions;let us know in advance so we can plan accordingly. All the participants help prepare and clean up after meals.
What do I need to bring?
You can view the equipment and clothing list for a particular trip by clicking on the individual trip link. Also when you register for a trip, you will receive the entire information packet, which includes the clothing list. We ask that you bring your own personal gear. We provide the group gear. That means you need a few changes of clothes, boots and shoes, toiletries, flashlight (headlamp preferred), hat, sunglasses, water bottles, and other similar items. We provide tents, stoves, cooking equipment, all food, and all the technical equipment for rock climbing and water sports. We ask that if possible, you bring a backpack, rain gear, sleeping bag, and sleeping pad.
Who are your instructors?
Every Teen Wilderness Adventures instructor is trained in water safety and certified in Wilderness First Aid. Instructors are selected for their judgment, dedication and passion for the outdoors and their experience working with young people. In addition, AMC provides an extended field training prior to the start of each summer. Any outdoor activity has inherent risk, but we work hard to minimize the potential dangers and maximize the safety precautions. One way we do this is by keeping our group sizes small, with between 6-10 youth per group, and by providing two AMC instructors for attention and supervision.
How safe will I be?
Safety is a high priority in all aspects of our programs. Our leaders all have Wilderness First Aid training and are selected for their good judgment, among other qualities. Any outdoor activity has inherent risk. We do our best to minimize the potential dangers and maximize the safety precautions with everything we do.
How do the multi-element programs work?
If you choose an Adventure that includes more than one activity, you will either return to the starting point of your trip between each activity or have your extra bag brought to you in the field. For example, that means you can pack clothing and equipment for canoeing and don’t have to bring it along backpacking. We’ll store your extra gear and you will have access to it between trip sections.
What is expected of participants on the trip?
Participants are expected to keep a positive attitude, respect the instructors and other group members, take responsibility for their personal belongings and group equipment, be supportive and inclusive of fellow participants, try new activities and foods, make good decisions about personal safety, and follow the Teen Wilderness Adventures policies. Participants are also expected to help out with daily camp chores like cooking meals, pitching tents, getting water, and storing equipment and food away at the end of each day. On the first day of the trip, instructors cover expectations of participants and participants also have a chance to share what they expect to get out of their trip.
Is there a service component to your trips?
Most Teen Wilderness Adventures do not contain a pre-planned service component;however, many groups end up doing impromptu service projects like planting trees, cleaning up fire rings, packing out litter, or brushing in unofficial trails and campsites. Our longer trips like the Appalachian Trail Backpack, and the Leadership Training Backpack offer many opportunities to delve deeper into Leave No Trace outdoor ethics and for small service projects. For more AMC trips that incorporate a service component for teens, check out AMC’s Volunteer Vacations.