Progress your Teen through Deer Hill’s Programs: 

A Summer Camp Experience Like No Other

Did you know that Deer Hill programs are meant to be a succession in experience, challenge, self-reflection, and personal growth that parallel students as they grow into young adults?  

Much like a summer camp, Deer Hill is a place students return to every summer. With options for all age ranges, Deer Hill hopes to be a cornerstone in your child’s life as they learn and grow through middle school and high school.

Here’s a summary of our programs by age:

Start with: Southwest Discovery

rafting in colorado for teens

So, where do you start? We suggest enrolling your pre-teen in Southwest Discovery, our entry-level offering for 11-12 years olds. It is a perfect starting point: a fun and engaging mix of backcountry and front country adventures.  

We love Southwest Discovery because it helps to promote a foundation for self-discovery. These kids are curious, excited, and are in the perfect age range to be exposed to the wonders of nature. We curate their experience to include community building and time to help them intentionally reflect on themselves and their place in the outdoors.

We keep this program to a two-week experience, including a float trip through Ruby-Horsethief Canyon on the Colorado River, an exploration of Ute Mountain Tribal Park, and hiking in the San Juan Mountains.

  • It includes a Ute Tribal Park Tour, River Rafting, and a Mountain Basecamp at the High Camp Hut.
  • The course is 12 days, June 26 – July 7, 2024.
  • The cost is $3144.

Next Up: River And Mountain Adventure

deer hill expeditions young teen in kayak

Teenagers ages 13 – 14 are ready for a more robust and immersive backcountry experience.  River and Mountain Adventure is Deer Hill’s most popular program and incorporates our classic combination of rafting, backpacking, and Native American service-learning*.

While this program begins to expand on essential backcountry skills – like navigation and camp craft – the main focus is on having tons of fun and making new friends while taking part in the adventure of a lifetime!

  • Students will raft the San Juan River, experience service-learning on the Navajo Nation, and backpack in the San Juan Mountains.
  •  River and Mountain Adventure is 18 days long and 28 service hours. 
    • July 3 – July 20, 2024
  • The cost for this program is $4725.

Next Up: Wild Pathways

After completing River and Mountain Adventure participants are ready to deepen into the experience and be given more autonomy.  Wild Pathways starts off with a self supported canoe trip where participants, in pairs, will be piloting their own crafts through the magical and majestic Labyrinth Canyon on the Green River in Utah.

After participating in Native service, the group will head into the San Juan Mountains for a backpacking trip that is a step up in difficulty from their last trek, in both the route choice and the length.

Wild Pathways is also a great introductory course for 15 year olds!

  • Students will canoe the Green River through Labyrinth Canyon, experience service-learning on the Navajo Nation, and backpack the San Juan Mountains
  • Wild Pathways is 20 days long with 28 service hours
    • July 51 – August 3, 2024
  • The Cost for this program is $5292.


In the Middle: 4 Program Offerings to Choose From!

After students have participated in their first two programs and are 15 – 17 years old, our program offerings expand to allow students to choose between multiple adventures, each with its unique flavor.

The beauty of these options is that you and your teen can pick the right adventure for you while still having the opportunity to experience a new program each year.

Our subsequent three program offerings are:

Wildlands: An Introduction for New Participants

Wildlands is our introductory course for older participants – but it would be a disservice to not imply that it’s a fantastic adventure for all skill levels.  It’s our classic combination of river, mountain, and service and is 19 days in length.  We also run this program later in the summer to accommodate folks who have other obligations in July, like sports c

amps or family vacations.

  • Students will raft the San Juan River, experience service-learning on the Navajo Nation, and backpack in the San Juan Mountains.
  • Wildands is a 19 day course with 28 service hours.
    • July 31 – August 18, 2024
  • The cost for this is $4988.

Southwest Journey: A Little Bit of Everything

whitewater rafting utah deer hill

Southwest Journey incorporates an epic adventure rafting Desolation-Gray Canyon on the Green River in Utah. Students fly in a chartered plane to the remote river launch and navigate over 60 rapids on this stretch of river. The group will then head to the Hopi Pueblo to live and work in a community with the oldest continually inhabited city in the United States. Finally, they set up a mountain base camp where they go on day hikes and participate in rock climbing.

  • This program includes backpacking, service-learning on the Hopi Pueblo, a scenic plane flight, and rafting on the Deso-Gray stretch of the Green River.
  •  Southwest Journey is a 24-day course with 32 service hours.
    • July 6 – July 29, 2024
  • The cost is $6231.

Canyon Country: A True Desert Experience

canyon country adventure camp for teens

Canyon Country brings the students deep into the desert while offering three different outdoor experiences. In this program, your teen will raft a new section of the San Juan River, backpack through beautiful canyons, and end their trip working on a service project with one of our host families in the Navajo Nation.

  • This experience includes rafting, canyon backpacking, and service-learning.
  • Canyon Country is 22 days and has 32 service hours.
    • June 27 – July 18, 2024
  • The cost is $5775.


Heart of the Rockies: Immersive Mountain Leadership

teens smiling in wilderness adventure

If your teen loves the mountains, then Heart of the Rockies is the perfect program for them! We love this program because it is a truly immersive backcountry experience and allows students to learn imperative navigational skills while experiencing the peacefulness of the mountains.  Participants will be dropped off by the Durango-Silverton narrow gauge railway in a remote area of the Colorado Wilderness.  They will travel through the beautiful Weminuche wilderness and receive a resupply via horsepackers halfway through their trip!  

  • Heart of the Rockies includes backpacking in Colorado, mountaineering, and a conservation-focused service project.
  • It is 21 days long and counts for 12 service hours.
    • July 11 – July 31, 2024
  • The cost is $5358.


Our Capstone Program: Dive Into Your Leadership

This program is our most physically strenuous and incorporates more advanced technical skills like canyoneering and off trail navigation.

Most importantly, these programs incorporate a curriculum focused on discovering and developing leadership skills.  Participants will be actively leading one another on a true backcountry adventure!

Capstone Program:

Wilderness Leadership: Canyon and Mountain Challenge

Wilderness Leadership is our capstone program for our oldest Deer Hill participants, 16 – 18 year-olds.

As your student has progressed through our other programs, they have developed crucial outdoor skills, along with growing and changing as young adults. Wilderness Leadership only expands that knowledge, truly teaching students to orienteer and lead groups in the wilderness, developing individual style and self-awareness.

  • This program includes canyoneering, mountaineering, canyon backpacking and mountain backpacking, and leadership development and service-learning.
  • This program provides 36 Service Hours and occurs on:
    • June 29 – July 23, 2024
  • The cost for this 25-day program is $6274.

Now that you know you can progress your teen through Deer Hill programs, we hope you will reach out to Morgan, our Admissions Manager, so she can help guide you and answer any questions you may have. You can also fill out this form for more information.