About the Program
If you are itching for an iconic Texas experience, this trip is for you. You can hardly get any more iconic than the legendary Big Bend desert and Rio Grande country. This remote desert is absolutely oozing with surprises and fantastic memories to be etched in your heart. Is it hot? Yes. But, our campers have beaten the heat several years in a row now, proving that adventure conquers adversity for the dedicated! We start acclimating to the Texas summer by spending two nights at Enchanted Rock for instruction in backcountry skills and a memorable sunset hike. Once you arrive in Big Bend, you’ll find that the desert is surprisingly endurable given the lower night temperatures and dry air. It’s the perfect place to sleep without a tent under a night sky blazing with stars. While paddling the Rio Grande, you’ll see Texas on one side, Mexico on the other, and explore some of the canyons forming the banks. Take in the quirks of Terlingua, a ghost town still inhabited by a handful of dedicated citizens. Noticeably cooler temps will greet you in the Chisos Mountains, where you’ll backpack for a couple of nights and scramble up Emery Peak, plus look out over the South Rim into our southern sister country. The remoteness, brilliant sunsets, stark landscape and rewarding activities will pull you and your group closer to create friendships lasting long after your desert escapade is over.
|15 DayTexas Adventure Itinerary||No Previous Experience or Expensive Gear Required!|
|Day 1||Welcome to Camp / Team Building|
|Day 2||EPIC Wilderness Clinic / Sunset Hike|
|Day 3||Logistics / Drive to Big Bend|
|Day 4-7||Muliti-Day River Trip Down thru the canyons on the Rio Grande River|
|Day 8||Rest day and explore Ghost Town and Terlingua.|
|Day 9||Day Hike Out to the Window in Big Bend National Park|
|Day 10-13||Multi-Day Backpacking Trip thru the Chisos Mountains.|
|Day 14||Travel Day and EPIC Banquet|
|Day 15||Head home to tell everyone about the adventure|
First things first, the staff will teach campers knot tying, shelter building, cooking methods, water purification, Leave No Trace ethics (LNT), how to select a proper campsite, and back country and front country safety. In addition, we also spend time teaching campers how to plan routes, basic orienteering, outdoor leadership, risk management skills, and how to maintain proper hygiene. We believe strongly in hands-on learning and make every effort to put campers into real world situations where staff can mentor students in real time. Understanding of these concepts ensures campers are not only prepared for our adventures together, but also leave the program with a greater sense of confidence.
Camping along the banks of the Rio Grande River below towering canyons is certain to be a memory that will last long after the summer ends. After a day of paddling, we spend the evening recapping the day’s adventures around a campfire on sandy riverbanks under the millions of stars that light up the sky. With Texas on the left side of the river and Mexico on the right, campers consider this a highlight and usually can’t wait to send home a postcard detailing their adventures on the border. Don’t worry! This section of the border is highly patrolled and safe from anything you may have heard on the news. Safety is our number one concern and we would never travel anywhere that we felt was unsafe. With over 100 miles of navigable river and five canyons to choose from, we rely on our friends who live in the area to help us choose the best section of river based on river conditions. Wild livestock, hawks, falcons, and dozens of critters are likely to be spotted as we explore the waters of the Rio Grande. Waking up to the sound of the rushing river while wondering what lies beyond the next bend in the river is what adventure is all about.
After the river trip we will take some time to relax and explore the local area around Terlingua. This area of Texas was once home to the Comanche Indians. Here they discovered that Cinnabar, the bright red ore of mercury, could be used to create war paint and by the mid-1800’s they began using it for trade with the English settlers who wanted it for the mercury. By the turn of the century this area was flooded with prospectors and the once sparsely populated desert grew to contain more than 2000 inhabitants. Following the end of WWII the demand for mercury fell and the area was abandoned. Today all that remains is Boot Hill cemetery, abandoned adobe style structures, and fewer than 200 residents. Regarded by many as one of the most famous ghost towns, this area always leaves visitors in awe!
Perhaps the most challenging, but also the most rewarding, component of the trip is backpacking. Teens consistently learn more from backpacking than anything else we do at camp. Days begin by preparing breakfast and filling water bottles before beginning the day’s hike. On a typical day, teens will hike 4-6 miles before making camp. Hikes are challenging but designed to suit everyone’s varying abilities. This is not a boot camp so don’t worry. Campers are given leadership roles each day and the gear is divided around the group equally. Campers usually make camp around 3-4 pm each day so they have plenty of time to build shelters, filter water, cook, and build campfires. Campers will prepare their food over campfires or with backpacking stoves, cooking things like pancakes, quesadillas, pita pizzas, and many more fun meals. In fact, many camp parents tell us their camper comes home and cooks for them! We build shelters from tarps or if the weather is nice we just sleep under the stars. To celebrate the end of our backpacking trip, we enjoy a well-deserved dinner at a local restaurant. The sense of accomplishment and bonding that occurs on a backpacking trip can’t be overstated. The stories and experiences that come from our backpacking trips are often the ones that become EPIC!