Single day Class II – III raft trip on the “Gorge” of the South Fork of the American River. Trip includes facilitated activities in the morning and emphasizes teamwork, communication, and healthy evaluation of risk-taking.
This is an introductory trip. The youth arrive for the day ready for a new adventure and leave with a greater understanding of what it takes to be a part of a team. This trip is wonderful for groups that are only able to bring their youth on a one-day trip.
Single day Class II – III raft trip on the “gorge” of The South Fork of the American River. This trip includes camping the night before the river trip. Note that camping arrangements need to be made by the youth group separate from PGO. All camping gear needs to be provided by your group. PGO has kitchen supplies that can be used while at Camp Lotus.
Guides/facilitators will meet the group at Camp Lotus the night before the trip and talk about what the rafting trip will be like. We will talk with participants over the fire and discuss what the next day will bring. This is a great opportunity for everyone to build trust amongst the group. The next morning we will facilitate activities then spend the day on the river. A debriefing and closing circle will be facilitated before departing.
Two day Class II – III rafting trips on the “Gorge” and “Chili Bar” section of The South Fork of the American River. This trip includes camping for 2 nights. Note that camping arrangements need to be made by the youth group separate from PGO. All camping gear needs to be provided by your group. PGO has kitchen supplies that can be used while at Camp Lotus.
This is similar to a level 2 trip, but in addition to doing a “Gorge” run, we will have a follow up circle time and campfire discussion about our day and prepare for the next day. The next morning we will have youth participation for a “Chili Bar” run. Participation will be required of the group in preparing for the second day of rafting. We will set high expectations, create positive interactions amongst the participants and guides, and assign appropriate learning tasks. This is an excellent opportunity for all that are involved to be a part of the team that will learn to navigate a trip from start to finish.
The “Outward Bound” model says that experiential learning happens when learners are placed in a state of “adaptive dissonance.” That is, learners are placed into a situation where their understanding of themselves and their abilities are in direct conflict with observed reality. The learning happens as they “rebalance” their expectations. The Outward Bound philosophy also suggests that this state of dissonance is more readily achieved in unfamiliar environments, and that the lessons are more powerful when the “rebalancing” requires that risks be faced, and challenges overcome.
Whitewater rafting certainly fits the bill, offering an unfamiliar environment, perceived risk, and a level of challenge that can be controlled by the guide/facilitator to some degree. Of course a ropes course, a climbing gym, rock wall, or a backpacking trip could serve up the same basic mix. Why not offer these things? Three reasons:
First, there are many ropes courses that offer discounted services to underserved youth. There are a reasonably large number of climbing and backpacking programs as well. We think it unwise to duplicate effort. Because whitewater rafting requires a high degree of skill and training, and requires expensive equipment, there are very few whitewater rafting programs that seek to serve underserved youth. Moreover, we are not aware of any rafting program, other than ours, that seriously embraces the experiential education model. In short, our program is unique.
Second, we’re good at it. Because we have so much institutional knowledge and experience with whitewater activities, it is not especially challenging for us to develop, deploy and follow sound policies. We know what “best practices” for whitewater rafting are, and we’d have to start all over to build a program around another activity. Our energy is better spent providing and improving the program we know how offer. And while we think it important that young people have other adventures in the great outdoors than just ours, the best way for this to happen is to partner with organizations who are good at what THEY do.
Finally, rafting has both a strong team component, allowing us to focus on the interpersonal (teamwork, leadership, communication etc.), and a strong “individual” component, allowing us to focus on the intrapersonal (confidence, resiliency, etc.). Our mission is well served by whitewater rafting.