River and Mountain Adventure

The Perfect First Expedition

Grades 7-8 (ages 13 – 14) | July 5 – July 25 | 32 Service Hours | 21 Days | $3,990*

It’s a fact: as the air gets thinner, smiles get wider. Experience the absolute best of the West in three weeks of outdoor fun and encounters with living Navajo history.

  • Watch the moon rise over the redrock canyon wall from your sleeping bag
  • Learn centuries-old sustainable agriculture skills at a Navajo sheep camp
  • Prepare tasty blueberry pancakes with your tent mates above timberline
  • Breathe deeply and survey the vastness of the Rocky Mountains from your first 13,000-foot peak

Welcome to our backyard! This classic program is where many young people first join the Deer Hill community. It’s a great starting point if you are ready to venture into the wild landscapes of Utah and Colorado, and want to experience the unique rhythm of life of a traditional Navajo community.

Raft the San Juan RiverBoyRowingSJ-small

Journey with us deep into the canyon of the San Juan River, as it carves through the geological marvel of the Colorado Plateau. Explore the Kachina Panel petroglyphs and the fascinating River House ruins, float through Comb Ridge – a spectacular 100-mile sandstone monocline – plus side canyon explorations and wildlife viewing. Learn about desert ecology, river hydrology, and life as an Ancestral Puebloan. At the end of the day, when dinner and the dishes are done, we find a beautiful spot to gather and reflect on the day’s activities. Sleep in your tent, or outside under a blanket of stars.

Cross-cultural Service in the Navajo Nation

Next, we head south to Arizona to visit our friends in the Navajo Nation. Learn how to build a sturdy earth dam to provide irrigation water, or herd sheep across the sparsely beautiful mesa tops. Help an elderly couple by collecting and chopping firewood in the afternoon sun, and listen to their stories around a campfire that night. Wonder at the skill and nimble hands of a traditional silversmith or weaver, and then create your own work of art, a souvenir to treasure forever.

We return to Basecamp for a night, relaxing and enjoying some home-cooked food. Play volleyball or shoot hoops, maybe just chill. Then pack up your mountain gear and prepare for the final adventure.

Backpacking in the La Plata Mountains of Colorado

Backpacking through the whispering aspen forests and gorgeous alpine meadows of Southwest Colorado, learn to tread lightly and leave no trace of your presence. Your experienced leaders share their knowledge of backcountry shelter, navigation, and how to cook a five-star meal above timberline. Before we leave this special place, we rise before dawn to attempt one of the 13,000-foot peaks you’ve been staring at for days. Then it’s back to Basecamp and a farewell banquet with your new friends.

Click here for detailed itinerary

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*Our Special Recreation permit with the US Forest Service requires us to state that $783 are the gross receipts for the mountain section of this program.

“The most meaningful experience at Deer Hill was the backpacking section. It was challenging, and I became stronger and more confident. Now that it’s done, I feel like I can conquer the world.” Michela, Pueblo, CO

“The service project was an incredible experience. We were working first hand with people who cherish their culture so much, and for them to let us participate in their traditions was amazing.” Marin, West Roxbury, MA