Ascend’s flagship program is the youth backpack program, which guides groups into the Trinity Alps Wilderness Area for three or five days at a time for youth aged 9-18. Ascend has also facilitated family backpack trips and offers a number of day activities including group day hikes to children ages 6-18, river rafting adventures and ropes course challenges. Ascend also facilitates backpack trips to various adult groups such as novice adult backpackers, and seniors. We are equipped to provide outdoor education oriented after school programs as well.
In addition to our usual hiking programs, we have also developed a strong base of volunteerism and stewardship through our Teen Work Crew, and Adult Stewardship groups. Ascend, in collaboration with local Forest Service officials, formed a teen crew and adult crew stewardship program to undertake trail work in the Trinity Alps Wilderness. Up to eight teens per trip ranging in age from 14-17 participate in trail work experience trips that included resume building skills for seven days of hiking and stewardship. Pack mules transport tools and food supplies, to set up a base camp. The crews day hike from the base camp to various work sites throughout the trip, using hand tools such as shovels and pulaskis, under the direction of Forest Service Wilderness Trails Crew Leader, to repair the tread and clear logs on identified trails in need of maintenance.
In all Ascend’s excursions, a strong educational component enhances understanding. Participants learn about the formation of the natural landscape, local plants (i.e. names, qualities) and wildlife, backcountry ethics such as Leave No Trace and the inter-connectedness of the land, the weather, plants, animals and people. Ascend programs also teach backcountry cooking and nutrition, as well as many other practical skills such as hanging food, setting up a tent, purifying water, making a fire, and reading a topographical map. All Ascend backpack trips have also included focused stewardship activities, such as trail maintenance with the California Conservation Corps.
Ascend adventures have shown lasting effects on participants. Placing a group in the wilderness creates a uniquely charged circumstance in which a series of perspective-changing moments are compressed into a short period and growth occurs at an accelerated rate. Ascend staff enhances the already powerful wilderness experience with challenges that promote self-reflection, awareness, frustration tolerance and effective communication. Ascend staff also assist participants in generalizing the lessons learned to their everyday lives so that they may draw on realizations made in the wilderness, to push past preconceived limitations and come to a greater sense of their capabilities at home, at work, in school and in the local community.