For more questions about our programs, please read the following. If there are questions that aren’t answered here, please contact us at [email protected].

How will I hear from Ascend after applying?

Ascend relies on email to communicate with our participants. We’ll be using the email [email protected] to send confirmation and informational emails regarding your application or confirmed trips.

After applying for any trip, you should get an email confirming that we’ve received your application. We generally send this application confirmation email within a week we received it but please allow time if you sent it in the mail or sent it outside of business days.

If more than two weeks have passed since you submitted an application and you have NOT heard from us, it means you are not signed up for any trip yet and something is amiss.

The most common issues have included:

  • *We highly recommend using a laptop or desktop computer to fill out the digital application* If you used a phone or tablet to fill out our online application, it may not have worked?
  • Maybe we didn’t get your application?
  • Our confirmation email went to your spam folder.
  • Sometimes when people use their work email addresses (aka not the usual hotmail, gmail, etc.), our confirmation emails get lost. (We think it has to do with how work emails have a higher level of security and spam filters).
  • If you wrote your application by hand, we may not have been able to read your handwriting.
  • You haven’t thoroughly checked your email inbox. (I know we get inundated with emails! So try searching a little deeper in case you missed it).

Questions about Youth Trips:

When will I know my child is confirmed for a trip?

Initially, we’ll send out an email confirmation to let you know we’ve received your application. This does not guarantee participation, merely that we are establishing a line of communication. Please see above for troubleshooting options if this hasn’t happened.

Youth Day Hikes: These are first-come, first-serve. So as long as you’ve received our “confirmation email” saying we’ve received your application then your child is signed up UNLESS we specifically say the trip is full and your child is on a waitlist.

Backpacking Trips: We will follow up with a second email regarding your confirmed trips sometime between May 22-29. We wait until our May 15 application deadline before curating groups for youth multi-day trips. It takes us at least a week to go through that process and respond to everyone. We know families are trying to plan their summer, so please know we prioritize this task to get you confirmations as soon as possible.

What does Ascend staff consider when curating youth groups for backpacking trips:

This is by far the hardest part of planning our summer. Each year we get more applicants than we have space on our trips for. There are many factors we consider and appreciate your understanding. Filling out an application does not guarantee participation.

  • Our wilderness permits have group size limits. In the Trinity Alps, we’re only allowed 10 people (8 youth and 2 adult guides). On a good note, we’re expanding with trips into the Russian and Marble Mountain Wilderness areas which allows up to 12 youth per trip.
  • We try to make our groups as diverse as possible: equal number of boys and girls, kids who go to all different schools, etc. 
  • We can’t guarantee a youth goes with their friends they signed up with. It’s good for us to know about it, and if it works out, great! With that said, we try to curate groups of kids who may not know each other yet. We find this increases group cohesion and minimizes “cliques”.
  • We try to offer these experiences to youth who haven’t had a chance to attend an Ascend trip before. Not all families can afford summer camps, and Ascend offers programs that help disadvantaged youth get experiences they may not have access to otherwise.
  • We prioritize youth who want to attend. Although we’re very conscientious of planning age appropriate itineraries, backpacking is physically challenging. If you sign up your child but they are not interested in this kind of physical challenge it can impede the overall experience for the entire group. It can also add undue stress on the adult guides or increase safety risks for the entire group. Please do not sign up your youth if they’re not willing. If you’re not sure, we highly encourage you to day hike or do more physical activities with your youth leading up to an Ascend trip to help them mentally and physically prepare.
  • If multiple youth from one family apply, we may confirm only one of your children. This allows Ascend to serve a greater number of families. If we confirm only one of your children, please know that we’ll increase the priority of the unconfirmed sibling the following year, and they will go on a waitlist for the current year.
  • We will prioritize families/participants who are able to attend our orientation meeting (if you’re new to Ascend) and the pack meeting (2 days prior to your trip). These are important meetings and although absolutely anyone is able to apply, it adds administrative burdens to accommodate too many participants who are unable to attend those meetings. We do hope this doesn’t keep you from applying, as we may be able to accommodate you, but not guaranteed.

Stewardship Volunteering

All of Ascend’s stewardship projects are guided by experienced Ascend Wilderness Trails Staff who are trained in Wilderness First Aid, CPR and Forest Service certifications like Trail Building and Cross Cut Saw certifications. Most of our stewardship trips also include Forest Service staff. These opportunities are awesome for anyone interested in learning about trail work, getting more hands on experiences, or giving back to the wilderness trails you love.

Ascend provides everything necessary: tools, safety talks, proper protective equipment such as gloves, safety glasses and hard hats. Additionally, all our guides each carry emergency communication devices such as Garmin inReach and Satellite phones as well as first aid kits.

What do you mean by stewardship?

All of our adult and all-ages trips involve stewardship projects. We scale the level of projects according to the length of trip and age bracket.

Multi-generational, all-ages trips are designed for absolutely any level of experience or age. We intentionally design these trips to accommodate families, people new to backpacking, anyone wanting to learn more about gear or anyone who simply enjoy companionship during hikes. Our stewardship projects during these hikes are simple. It usually involves “brushing” which means using small hand tools like loppers to cut back brush in the trail. On these trips, groups will hike to beautiful locations as well as dedicate a portion of the day to the stewardship project.

Adult-only day hikes and weekend trips step it up a notch with longer hiking distances and more involved projects. These are also fantastic opportunities for anyone new to backpacking, hiking or trail work. We may increase the tasks to include log-outs (when you use a cross cut saw to clear a fallen tree across a trail) or treadwork (when you dig into the trail to re-define it or clear debris). If you’re hesitant about these tasks, rest assured we will not expect participants to jump in as pro’s. We always have a number of people attending who are able and experienced, and it matches well with the folks who are new and learning. The groups work together, build camaraderie and generally have a lot of fun! Think of these experiences as really cool opportunities to try out a cross cut saw for the first time and learn about trail maintenance.

Adult-only backcountry trips are Ascend’s most arduous and involved stewardship trips. We have had plenty of first-timer trail workers on these trips, so if you’re new to trail work this is still an opportunity to learn and participate. However, we do expect anyone signing up for these projects to commit to a more involved week. These trips include pack mule support to hike in all the gear and food, and groups base camp in the backcounty. Each day groups will hike anywhere between 2-6 miles on average and participate in logouts, treadwork and brushing.