By Carol Yard, Wilderness Programs Director at YMCA of the Pines

You may already be thinking about warmer days ahead- we certainly are!  I wanted to share some thoughts about our wilderness trips and why we believe they are a great option in the midst of the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic.

  • Wilderness trips are a relatively safe way for kids to get outside this summer!
    • The expeditions take place outside in the fresh air with few to no other people around
    • We are in a small group of 8-12 people total, including instructors
    • We don’t interact with people outside of this small group while on a trip, and if we come close to anyone while on site at base camp, we mask up
    • We do health screenings at the start of each session and do regular check-ins regarding how each participant is feeling
    • We are already in the habit of making hand sanitizing a priority while on a trip


  • There are mental and physical benefits of being active outside:
    • Reducing cortisol levels (our stress hormone)
    • Reducing rates of depression
    • Disconnecting from screens and technology
    • Increasing physical fitness and health
    • Building a relationship with the natural world


  • Additionally, wilderness trips give participants a chance to:
    • Be social and connect with peers in a meaningful way through an actual shared journey
    • Build confidence and courage through overcoming obstacles together
    • Unpack their thoughts and feelings during our regular check-ins and discussions
    • Build a practice of self-reflection to help process life experiences
    • Learn new skills that they can use back at home and in school

Check out our Wilderness Trips web pages for more information and to reserve your spot!  We offer 1-2 week canoeing and hiking trips for ages 11-17, between our BOLD & GOLD and Rangers expeditions.

We will continue to remain flexible with registrations, refunding or rolling over your deposit if needed due to circumstances regarding the Covid-19 pandemic.  That said, we are expecting and planning to run trips this summer, and hope that you and/or someone you know will join us!