Sea to Source Expedition

A boat of young, multicultural paddlers charging into a whitewater rapid head-on

July 17th-August 6th 2017

Pre-Trip Meeting: Thursday July 13th 2017




This 21-day adventure travel expedition offers teenagers from diverse backgrounds a thrilling yet educational journey along Northern California’s waterways. This trip includes a ropes course, sea kayaking, whitewater river rafting, and a backpacking expedition.

This expedition begins with a ropes course where we challenge ourselves and learn to work together as an inclusive team. Participants then venture into California’s beautiful natural landscapes to embrace the excitement and empowerment of sea kayaking on Tomales Bay, whitewater rafting on the American River, and backpacking through the Tahoe Basin. 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.



Day 1  The trip begins with a welcoming introduction as we join our teammates in San Francisco. We will load our gear into large vans and begin our trip with a day on an adventure ropes course. We learn how we can step up as leaders and work together as a team. In the evening we hold our first nightly council circle were we enjoy the process of debriefing our day, then divide into teams and establish leadership roles.


Days 2-8 

We enter the world of water making sea kayaks our new vehicles and travel north to Hearts Desire Beach in Tomales Bay. We will pack a fleet of kayaks full of everything we need to spend the next nights. We will have the opportunity to paddle to Hog Island and visit the Oyster Farm to learn about sustainable farming. During this trip we begin to embrace the ancient tradition of the first kayakers. As we learn to live simply and close to nature, we will spend our nights sleeping outdoors and our days learning primitive skills. From paddling skills to rescues, this time will make you a strong and competent sea kayaker.

Days 9-15 

We leave the river and transition to the mountains in Tahoe Basin for the backpacking expeditionThe challenge of backpacking and carrying only our essential needs gives us opportunities to gain confidence, feel empowered, and 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.


Days 16-20  

Finally we will explore the thrill and adventure of whitewater rafting. We travel by van from the Bay Area to the small town of Coloma, where the California Gold Rush started. This is where we settle into ETC’s beautiful and accessible river camp on the banks of the South Fork American River. It will be time to explore the thrill and adventure of whitewater rafting. Instructors train you to navigate rapids and students take turns leading each other down Class I-II sections of the river. The more challenging Class III sections will be safely run by knowledgeable and experienced guides. Each day we will come back to the comfort of our beautiful river camp to cook dinner in the open-air kitchen. Every night we will sleep under the stars.

Day 21 

We end with a graduation and a celebration of our successes. This is a potluck gathering in San Francisco. Our friends and family join us for dinner while we share with them the highlights of our journey and the many ways we have grown.

Keeping the great outdoors open to all.