Service Leadership

This expedition includes:

  • Canoeing
  • Conservation project
  • Native American service project
  • Mountain backpacking
  • Peak ascents
  • Leadership training

This is wilderness and service at its most advanced. As you paddle your canoes down the Green River, you’ll stop at points along the way to help protect this landscape through conservation projects with the Bureau of Land Management. You’ll immerse yourselves in the culture of Zuni Pueblo while you give back by helping in the community garden and building communal bread ovens. The final leg of your expedition takes you backpacking in the rugged La Plata Mountains, where you’ll help out with conservation projects based out of the Rio Oso environmental education cabin in Bear Creek.

“I will take away a work ethic, a sense of what service means, and a piece of a culture I never knew existed prior to visiting the Zuni Pueblo” – Niajhira, participant

The Wilds Await Apply

Arrive at Basecamp

Days 1-3
Participants arrive at Basecamp throughout the first afternoon. Their expedition leaders help them become acquainted with Deer Hill, as participants meet each other and the group begins to form. In addition to playing games, and eating home-cooked meals, the group will begin to pack group and personal gear for the first part of their trip.

Canoeing Labyrinth Canyon

Days 3-7
All prepped and packed, the group departs Deer Hill Basecamp on Day 3 for the river launch at Ruby Ranch. They will spend their days on the river, canoeing through the striking sandstone canyons, and taking on service projects with the Bureau of Land Management along the way to mitigate human impact. Participants learn to read the river and to canoe with a partner. After each day of boating, the group makes camp on a sandy beach where they will prepare dinner, and enjoy the scenery.

Service in Zuni Pueblo

Days 8-13
Participants camp one night along the way between the river and service section. Once at Zuni Pueblo, the group will live and work with their hosts on projects such as tending the community garden and repairing or building traditional outdoor bread ovens. The group will learn about Zuni traditions and lifestyles, hike to some of the places that hold stories of deep cultural and historical significance.

Backpacking in the La Plata Mountains

Days 14-19
Participants backpack into the La Plata Range in Colorado’s San Juan Mountains. In addition to learning mountain skills, the group will carry out conservation service projects such as repairing washed out trails, removing trail debris, or mitigating campsite impact. When not engaged in service, the group will attempt a sunrise peak ascent of a 12- or 13,000-foot peak, and enjoy the display of alpine wildflowers that make Southwest Colorado such a coveted place.

Return to Basecamp

Days 19-21
Participants return to Basecamp for program closure. The group cleans equipment and returns it to its storage locations at Basecamp, and returns any rental items to the Deer Hill Store. The group holds a closing ceremony to conclude their experience, and enjoys a cookout and slideshow on the final evening. On the last day of the program, expedition leaders drive participants to the Durango airport to return home.

Ages 16-18*

July 13 – August 2, 2017

21 Days

56 Service Hours

*For questions about age or grade level, call us at 970.533.7492.

Start and End at Basecamp

The expedition is bookended with time at Deer Hill’s Basecamp in Mancos, CO. From Days 1 to 3, participants get to know each other as they pack group and personal gear for their river expedition. At the end of their expedition, the group returns to Basecamp (Days 19-21) for hot showers and home-cooked meals. The final full day will include a closing ceremony and celebration with a cookout and slideshow.

The group is at Basecamp only at the beginning and end of the expedition, and between he service and backpacking sections.

Arrival and Departure:

Durango Airport (DRO) or

Deer Hill Basecamp, Mancos, Colorado.

Arrive July 13, 12-6pm; Depart August 2, 8:30am-2pm

Travel Information



The service project was an incredible experience. We were working first hand with people who cherish their culture and lives so much and for them to let us participate in their traditions was amazing.

Martin, participant