This tour of the Golden State is packed with fun and adventure. You will explore the beautiful beaches in Santa Cruz, California, take in the rugged stretch of coastline and meet some colorful critters in the beach’s nearby tidepools. Participate in a restoration project with Marin County Parks organization, and learn to climb on a secluded granite dome near Yosemite National Park. Hike to stunning waterfalls in Yosemite National Park, whitewater raft the American River, and learn to surf on quintessential northern California beaches. Finally, wrap up your adventure with a tour of San Francisco, including Fisherman’s Wharf and the Golden Gate Bridge.This is one of our favorite Teen Adventure Summer Camps!
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12 Daysview dates and prices
Arrive: San Francisco, CA (SFO)
Depart: San Francisco, CA (SFO)
DAY 1: Explore Santa Cruz
Put on your hiking boots and get ready to explore the rugged coastline of Santa Cruz. We will hike alongside giant redwood trees and get glimpses of the beautiful endless coast. If we’re lucky we’ll spot some famous banana slugs in the Santa Cruz mountains and wave to some seals in the Pacific. We’ll polish off our tour with a drive on the scenic Highway 1 along the California coastline, until we reach Manresa State Park to camp beachside under the stars.
DAY 2: Boardwalk and Tidepool Exploration
Wake up and head into town to explore the Santa Cruz Beach Boardwalk! After playing some games and hopping on some rides, we will head to Natural Bridges State Park where we will explore tide pools and learn about some sea critters native to the California Coast. We’ll play games on the beach and watch surfers shred the waves and pick up some techniques as we prepare for our own surf lessons.
DAY 3: Marin County Service Project
Head up the coast to Marin County for a day of community service with the Marin County Parks preservation and restoration program. You will learn about local species and work to restore their habitats through removing invasive European beachgrass, ice plant, Monterey pine, and Monterey cypress. We will learn about the area’s hydrological function and how removing these species helps build resilience around sea levels rising. On this day we will get our hands dirty and gain a greater appreciation for the natural environment while taking in some beautiful coastal views.
DAY 4-5: Learn to Surf on Stinson Beach
Known by locals as the most beginner-friendly surf spot in the area, we’ll spend two days on Stinson Beach receiving professional surf instruction. You’ll learn techniques, water safety and awareness, and etiquette before paddling out to watch for the perfect line. These mellow waves are so reliable, it’s not unusual to catch 20 to 30 lines in a day!
DAY 6-7: EXPLORE YOSEMITE AND GIANT SEQUOIAS
Next, we’ll head inland toward Yosemite National Park. After traveling up into the mountains, we’ll pile in the vans and take a short drive to the Mariposa Grove of Giant Sequoias, where more than 500 of the world’s oldest evergreens reside. Their branches are up to eight feet thick, while their bases can reach 40 feet in diameter! Just north of Mariposa is the famous Yosemite Valley, where we’ll marvel at the 3,000-foot-tall granite walls and hike Nevada Falls, which towers almost 600 feet above the valley floor. Its turbulent, powerful waters create a refreshing mist that’s sure to cool you off after a day of hiking!
DAY 8: Rock Climbing at Fresno Dome
After exploring the park for a couple of days, we’re taking a different path today and going to see the beautiful and unique granite of this area. We won’t be hanging out with throngs of tourists, though; instead, we’ll escape the summer heat and crowds and head to Fresno Dome, sitting above 7,000 feet in elevation. Learn the ins and outs of rock climbing on the smooth Sierra granite; you’ll even get to belay your peers! Fun fact: Climbing legend Royal Robbins spent much of his time developing routes here.
DAY 9-10: Whitewater Raft the American River
Don’t be intimidated by the South Fork of the American River’s rapids named “Troublemaker” and “Satan’s Cesspool”—you’ll drop these lively class III rapids with ease with the help of professional raft guides. On the calmer sections, you’ll get to try your hand at stand-up paddle-boarding! Hemmed in by the rolling hills of the Sierra Nevada, you’ll see relics of history: gold discovery on its shores triggered the California Gold Rush of 1849.
DAY 11-12: EXPLORE SAN FRANCISCO
We’ll finish our northern California adventure with a tour of historic landmarks, including the famous Golden Gate Bridge. We will walk the entirety of Fisherman’s Wharf, a historic fishing village turned tourist destination. While walking past clam chowder cafes and street performers, we will make our way to Pier 39 to see the vivacious Californa Sea Lions in residence! With the Sea Lion bark echoing across the bay, we will make our way up the 209 steps to the top of Coit Tower. This will wrap up our California Trip perfectly! From there, we will have a view over the entire city and a sneak peek of what we will see next, like the West Coast’s oldest operating lighthouse and the beautiful Gardens of Golden State Park. Then we’ll walk the entirety of the 1.7-mile-long Golden Gate Bridge before admiring Ghirardelli Square and picking up some namesake chocolate!
*Listed above is Bold Earth’s intended itinerary for this trip. All itineraries are subject to change in order to provide the best possible program quality.
Dates and Prices
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Accommodations & Service
Community Service: Approximately 5 Hours
- Marin County service project: Removing invasive species and environment awareness.
- 11 nights of camping. All campgrounds have running water and bathroom facilities on site. Bold Earth will provide comfortable 4-person tents.
Community service: 5 hours
Bold Earth emboldened my daughter to accomplish things within herself that she didn’t know were strengths. She challenged and pushed herself in a new environment making new friends in a community where she didn’t know a soul. She also crossed several items off her life bucket list, like learning to surf! She is already looking into which trip she wants to take next year, and has even considered planning it with some of the friends from the trip this year.
This Bold Earth trip showed me how beautiful nature is and how grateful we are to experience the things we do. I made friendships that will last a very long time, and we were all able to connect in different ways. I am so glad to have gone with this group of people.
We really pushed Jess to embrace this trip, which was her first solo traveling experience. I knew that even if by some remote chance she didn’t enjoy it, the benefits of her being on her own far outweighed any discomfort. Connecting with a trip leader toward the end of the trip and learning that Jess was having fun and participating to the fullest was the best news ever. The organization and communication is well thought-out and highly detailed.
Bold Earth is the perfect combination of adventure and personal growth. It’s a leap of faith to let your child travel alone, but Bold Earth eased all those fears. Our daughter pushed herself and proved to herself that she could do all the amazing things the world has to offer, and she made some lifetime memories and friends along the way.
The trip leader Leah was fantastic. My daughter wanted to speak to Leah before the trip as she was feeling nervous, and Leah made her feel very comfortable and was very thorough in communicating with me. Both leaders seemed to be extremely competent, organized, and connected with the kids. We are VERY IMPRESSED! We appreciated the daily blog info and pictures, and we loved that the kids cooked, cleaned, and had fantastic adventures! There was
never a point at which I worried about my daughter.
Surfing was 100 percent my favorite activity on the trip. I learned so much, and I feel way more confident now. I met some of my closest friends on this trip.
My favorite part of the trip was that at every meal, we sat in a circle and included everyone in the conversation. It made our group closer and act like a family.
We are incredibly grateful for this experience for Matilda. We saw beautiful growth in confidence, ability to navigate unknown and difficult situations and a love for the outdoors. Kate and Casey were fantastic educators! We couldn’t have been happier with the direct, loving, and skill-building lessons they had to share with Matilda and the rest of the group.
I loved being able to connect with other people from around the world and learn new things about myself that I didn’t know before the trip. Bold Earth helped me realize that I am more capable, independent, and self-reliant than I thought.
Bold Earth taught me to be comfortable outside of my comfort zone and impacted the way I see the world.
California Discovery was a life changing experience, where you get to meet the best people and have the most fun of your life!