Not surprisingly, the Pacific Northwest boasts a bevy of amazing wilderness camps, but did you know that many of them also teach leadership skills? With the beauty of nature as a backdrop, students can safely gain confidence by practicing team building and effective communication in a hands-on way, all while enjoying the great outdoors.
“Whether it’s in our survival or wilderness camps, I’ve seen kids grow in their own self-awareness,” says Sam Bowman, summer programs coordinator at the Wilderness Awareness School. “Kids [start] paying attention to what the group needs. They realize that it’s not just about them as an individual.”
Wilderness Awareness School
Recognized for years by ParentMap as the one of the premier nature camps in our area, this school offers overnight and day camps for middle schoolers and teens in everything from wilderness survival to wolf tracking. In addition to honing kids’ outdoor skills, the school also focuses on healthy risk taking and teamwork.
YMCA — Outdoor Leadership
YMCA’s BOLD and GOLD (Boys and Girls Outdoor Leadership Development) programs focus on cultural competency and leadership skills through outdoor journeys and activities. They offer one-, two- and three-week outings in the mountains of the Pacific Northwest.
Rite of Passage Journeys
This organization offers expedition trips called “Mountain Quest: Coming of Age” for boys and girls ages 12–14 (15 for boys), all set in the forests and on the waterways of western Washington. The trips are separated by gender and led by a team of experienced wilderness mentors. Kids are welcomed into a supportive community. Participants “safely experience the physical challenges of demanding mountain backpacking as well as the interpersonal themes of self-reliance, responsibility to self and others, group dynamics and conflict resolution.”