A Snow Experience of A Lifetime

Screen Shot 2019-04-29 at 8.53.53 AMTo kick off spring, our Outdoor Explorers heading to Tahoe National Forest for a snow-packed weekend of adventure. The trip was in partnership with the Gateway Mountain Center which provided knowledgable, friendly guides to support activities throughout the weekend. We spent the weekend at Clair Tappaan Lodge, a beautiful history rich rustic retreat for snow-enthusiasts.

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The trip was originally scheduled for Spring Break but had to get rescheduled due to heavy snowfall. As a result, the timing was a bit tight but we made it work! The group arrived in Tahoe around 11:30 pm on Friday night and worked hard together to lug all of our luggage up the snowy hill in a few sleds.

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The first day was spent snowshoeing around the Cabin area. This was everyone’s first-time snow-shoeing which made the experience extra special. The group learned about dressing properly for the colder weather and soon took off in search of prime-time sledding spots! Once a spot was agreed upon, the fun really picked up. Participants enjoyed tons of free-time, most of them spent it making snow angels, sledding, having snowball fights, and/or building igloos.

After everyone got all their energy out, the group settled down to learn from Gateway Mountain Center staff about Forest Ecology and the important role our forests play in our changing climate. The group learned how to identify different tree species and played a game where they had to use senses other than their sight to locate specific trees throughout the forest. After learning about Forest Ecology, the group started to explore snow science! Participants conducted mini-experiments to get a better understanding of what is actually in the snow and how that varies based off of how deep the snow is in the ground. It was awesome to practice some STEM learning on an Outdoor Trip.

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Downtime at the cabin was filled with card games, mafia, ping-pong tournaments and a lot of great conversation. The group was from around all over the Bay and enjoyed getting to know one another.


The climax of the weekend was the last day, where the group headed to Donner Summit for a first time snowboarding/skiing experience. The youth got suited up with gear and equipment, participated in guided lessons, and spent the rest of the day flying (or falling) down the mountain!

Check out what our Outdoor Explorers had to say about their snow experience! 

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“This weekend was an amazing experience for me. I have gotten to do fun activities like snowshoeing and sledding and learn so much about the snow which I rarely get to experience. In particular, my favorite moment was when I got to ski down a hill for the first time and the feeling of excitement while doing it. I have found that I really enjoy snow sports and I would love to continue doing things in the snow like this. I am so grateful to have gotten the chance to experience this.” – Jada, Outdoor Explorer


“This trip has been a very fun and a great learning experience. I have never skied before in my life or experience the snow like this. We have spent 2 days, learning about forest ecosystems and sledding. I love sledding, it was very fun. Skiing was very scary at first and I still am a bit scared but I am getting the hang of it. I had fun going down the small hill and learning how to turn, falling was fun because we would all laugh. I hope to get better and I hope to come again one day.” – America, Outdoor Explorer

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“Personally, this was my first time being in the snow, and to do this with my friends and Earth Team made this experience 100 times better. This weekend we learned valuable skills such as snowshoeing, skiing, sledding and how to dress appropriately for colder conditions. This weekend we also learned about forest ecology. The sense of teamwork really made us feel much closer and it was more than I expected. This trip was so much fun” – Marco, Outdoor Explorer

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“I have had a lot of fun so far and am looking forward to going again. This was a great chance for me to branch out and meet new people and also get good at something I have never done before. By the time I leave, I will be a pro. Of course, it was fun to get out of the house but this trip is beyond what I was expecting. Id like to express my gratitude for getting people like my friends and I out here to have a new experience and learn new things.” – Jodiah, Outdoor Explorer

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“For me, this was amazing to see snow for the first time all the way to get to experience snowboarding. The snowboarding part of this trip took it to the next level. This is way better than staying at home and playing video games. It was so fun, no matter how much or how hard I fall I always got up happy no matter how much it hurt. I have met so many kids from different schools talking to them, figuring out their different personalities, and spending the night with each other was so cool.” -Elijah, Outdoor Explorer

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“This opportunity allowed me to try new things and experience a new sense of excitement I have never felt before. I have made connections with other interns and was able to learn and enjoy our time in the snow.” – Kathleen, Outdoor Explorer

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“This was my first time skiing so arriving at Donner Ski Ranch was terrifying enough. I was nervous but the staff was really nice and helpful so getting geared up was the easy part. Getting out and actually learning to ski was extremely challenging but my instructor Trevor was incredible, he was so kind and patient with me, plus he had a great sense of humor. I will definitely try skiing again in the future with the hopes of getting better.” – Evelin, Outdoor Explorer


“This trip has allowed me to learn a new skill and has changed my life. I had so much fun snowboarding (and falling) today. It was truly a life-changing experience. This trip made it possible for me to fly down a mountain and have an amazing experience this weekend. It meant the world to me” – David, Outdoor Explorer

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“This was my first time snowboarding so I fell and flipped so much but overall I have been having a great time. I would say that everyone will have plenty of memories from this trip. Snowshoeing and snow science was also really cool. When we went snowshoeing we took sleds to ride down the mountain and we also threw a lot of snowballs. My favorite part of this trip would be when we ate smores since I have never had any before.” – Carlos, Outdoor Explorer

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“Without this trip, I would have never been able to experience something like this. Yesterday, we snow-shoed and hiked up a beautiful snowy mountain in the forest. The trees were so vibrant with the little pops of the bright green from the moss. To top it all off, we went sledding down huge mountains. We had awesome snowball fights and truly a great time playing in the snow, discovering new things, and learning about it – I know I did! I love being with this great group of people, doing something we are all so excited about. Today, I am snowboarding and man! Is it cool! It is so liberating (and scary) to just go freely down the mountain. Even with all the bumps and falls, slipping and sliding. This is one of the best things I have ever gotten the chance to do. I was looking forward to this all week and my expectations of fun adventures did not fail! This is one of the best experiences of my life!”- Asha, Outdoor Explorer

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“I got to know people from other schools and better connect with friends I already had. On top of that, I learned how to better connect with and control my body (which is a necessity for snowboarding). I had to commit to a move or plan to get down the hill which I learned while getting a couple of bumps and bruises but no pain, no gain! This trip allowed the 13 of us to bond, play, learn and relax.”– Nick, Outdoor Explorer

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“I was able to participate in our outdoor trip to Tahoe where we were able to learn new things like skiing and snowshoeing. I have been able to find a new passion. The feeling of zipping down the mountain on a snowboard is second to none and I think it is important to know that this trip played a part in letting me experience it. The outdoor activities we participated in also gave me a greater fondness for and understanding of nature. I hope we get to go on even more adventures.” – Rocky, Outdoor Explorer

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“Earth Team is all about getting outside and learning skills that we will use and enjoy for years to come. I myself really loved this trip. I loved seeing the snow and playing with it. I haven’t since I was 4 yrs old other than in movies and pictures. It was fun putting on snowshoes and hiking into the snow. During our breaks while hiking we sled, built an igloo, an had snowball fights. We built a ramp at one of the spots. I went over the ramp on the sled and went in the air which was amazing! Today, I went skiing which was hard but still a lot of fun even though I fell lots of times I enjoyed it” – Abigail, Outdoor Explorer

Thank you to Gateway Mountain Center, Clair Tappaan Lodge, Donner Summit and Earth Team’s Outdoor Explorers Adult Mentors for an incredible snowy weekend! 




Building Confidence and Motivation Through a Kayaking Coastal Adventure

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To kick off spring, our Outdoor Explorers heading to Sausalito Bay for a beautiful day kayaking on the water. Participants were joined by Environmental Traveling Companion (ETC) guides and Earth Team Outdoor Adult Mentors.

Participants will all first-time kayakers, and a few of them were a bit nervous. After getting quality training and safety instruction from ETC Guides they were feeling a bit more prepared and ready to face their fears.

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Everyone was on a two-person kayak, and each couple was made up of students that attend different high schools. Having to work together to paddle was a great way for our interns to get to know one another!

As the group paddled along, guides and mentors informed the students about the surrounding area. The group learned about some of the native fauna and flora, the native history of the site and how native cultures are still active today, and the history of kayaking.

During lunch, the group stopped at a small beach for a beach clean up and team building exercises. By this time, the group was a lot more comfortable with each other and the whole kayaking experience.

Post-survey results showed that after participating on this trip…

80% of youth felt more confident in themselves

80% of youth felt a greater sense of belonging to the coastline

100% of youth felt more motivated to try new things

Thank you to ETC and our Outdoor Explorers Adult Mentors for making the trip such a wonderful experience!


A Weekend Of Women’s Empowerment – Exploring California’s Coastline

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For the first time, our Outdoor Explorers Program lead an all female-identifying overnight kayaking trip to Santa Cruz. The weekend was filled with memorable coastal experiences along the shoreline. Participants learned how to set up camp, visited a marine sanctuary, went on a nighttime beach walk, heard from park rangers, and lastly kayaked through Santa Cruz Harbor.

More than ever participants felt empowered and inspired by the group itself. With an all-female leadership team, the young ladies had mentors to look up to. Students reflected feeling empowered by seeing such strong women in leadership positions.

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Many of the participants were nervous about being around all girls, but after some time passed, they reflected that this cohort made them feel accepted, loved, valued more than they ever have felt before.

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The vibes were great throughout the trip, and the adventure and thrill of kayaking just made everything better. All of our participants were first-time sea-kayakers, and many of them were very nervous to be in an open body of water. With support from each other, every student pushed through the uncertainty and had a blast out on the water.

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This weekend was a great way for these young women to connect with the coastline, each other, adult mentors, and themselves.

Check out what they had to say about the trip! 

“I really enjoyed this trip. I experienced a bunch of firsts during this trip like the first time camping and the first time kayaking and the first time in Santa Cruz. I had so much fun and this was such an amazing group to go with. I hope I’ll get to go back sometime in the future” – Cece, Outdoor Explorer

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Cece (left) and Leilana (right) enjoying beach time together.

“I enjoyed how the trip turned out. It was a very empowering experience for all of us especially since we had a group of strong females and strong female leaders. I loved the fact that we helped each other out and had fun. I really enjoyed everything that happened this trip and I would love to do it again. I’m very thankful. There is nothing I would change and my favorite part was spending time with everyone.” – Leilana, Outdoor Explorer

“Overall, I feel like this trip was an opportunity for personal growth. Being able to challenge myself and knowing I had the support of the group to do it is really what ultimately pushed me to take risks that I wouldn’t have otherwise. At first, I didn’t think having an all-girls group would mean or change much, but when we got to the kayaking place and I saw the male instructors I could feel a shift in my emotions that let me know how great the effects of being surrounded by powerful women all weekend had been. All of the volunteers/chaperones were very inviting and felt more like older wiser siblings than just supervisors. I really enjoyed this trip and will cherish the memories and friendships I formed forever.” – Gracy, Outdoor Explorer

I absolutely loved this trip! It really got me thinking about how we should really limit our trash for the ocean. I made new friends too that I absolutely love! Kayaking was just a plus it was really nice to experience kayaking in the ocean. And it was great seeing all us women do all of the “manly” things ourselves #wedontneednomen!” – Delaney, Outdoor Explorer

“I think this is a really amazing trip. I learned a lot of things that I never knew before. And also in this trip help me get over my fear of water after I felt down the water. So this is a memorable trip.” – My, Outdoor Explorer

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June (left) and My (right) posing for their beach pic!

“I enjoyed the trip a lot. I’ve learned a lot: self-care, setting up tent, team-working, communicating, and kayaking. I felt more mature after the trip. Kayaking becomes my favorite thing. The adults in the team have empowered and inspired me to become a more independent and strong woman. Thank you so much for planning and carrying out this event. It’s been a great time, and I’m looking forward to the next trip.” – June, Outdoor Explorer

“I had a lot of fun on this trip meeting and bonding with everyone. I was nerves at first to come but I’m glad I did because it has been memorable. Even though I seemed to have bad luck on this trip It was a really great experience overall.” – Isabella, Outdoor Explorer

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Allison enjoying the ocean waves! 

“I had an amazing time with everyone the volunteers were the best. This trip helps me realize that females are very powerful and could do amazing things and make everyone feel included and not be embarrassed. The vibe and trust and bonding reminded me why I go on these trips.” – Allison, Outdoor Explorer

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Guadalupe taking a stroll on the beach. 

“The kayaking trip was amazing it was a wonderful experience. I would do it again. I had an amazing day with people I knew and with the new faces I met and talked to. I also liked how we were all girls and we were helping each other out and taking care of one another. This trip was fun, and peaceful since it gave me space to think and talk to people about college and other personal stuff. Love the communication and how we trust one another! Hope to go again and learn more about kayaking!” – Guadalupe, Outdoor Explorer

“The trip was an experience like no other. The ambiance was amazing being able to relax and hang out with other females. I am very appreciative towards you and our other mentors and fellow interns. It’s going to be something I’ll never forget” – Diana, Outdoor Explorer

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Leilana (left), Ahriyana (middle) and Guadalupe (right) practicing paddling and communicating with one another! 

“I really enjoyed the trip. Kayaking was easier and not as scary as I expected. Everyone was very nice and welcoming. I also hope to do it again.” – Ahriyana, Outdoor Explorer

“It was great and had a lot of fun meeting new people and hanging out there” – Arlette, Outdoor Explorer

Special thank you to Kayak Connections for providing our team with excellent instructors and all the kayaking gear we needed to get our youth out on the water! 

Shout out to our volunteers, Sadie, Andrea and Analucia for being so fabulous! You were great additions to the team and we can’t wait to have you back! 

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Volunteers Sadie (left) and Andrea (right) paddling through Santa Cruz Harbor 
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Volunteer Analucia enjoying the Santa Cruz sunshine! 


Challenge at China Camp State Park – A Mountain Biking Adventure!


On Cesar Chavez Day, a group of our outdoor explorers joined together to spend their day off school charging up mountains and souring down hills at China Camp State Park. The team was accompanied by Trips for Kids Marin, who provided incredible staff and high-quality bikes to support the ride.

The team was faced with a lot of physical challenge, matched with a lot of adrenaline and thrill. Students pushed themselves, took breaks when they know they needed it, and overall learned a lot about what they are capable of.

A total of seven high schools were represented, with participants coming from all over the East Bay Area. Students had a blast getting to know one another and reconnect with some people they have met on previous trips. Overall, the trip was amazing and we are excited to go on another one soon!

Hear from what our Outdoor Explorers had to say about the day! 


“I enjoyed this mountain biking trip very much. I had such an amazing experience of mountain biking for the first time and meeting new interns from other schools. It’s great to meet people who do the same things as me and have fun with them. Being out in nature also gave me a sense of liberty, and I got to have a thrilling ride at the same time. These trips bring excitement to me, and I left this one wanting to go back.” – Justin, Outdoor Explorer


“I learned that mountain biking is harder than it seems, but it’s very fun. I got really dirty, but I didn’t mind it felt cool like it shows we put in work. Id do this again it was fun” – William, Outdoor Explorer


“Today, I went mountain biking and met a couple of new people. It was nice getting to know everyone while we were biking in the mountains. I’ve learned lots of new things while having fun with the most amazing people. I’ve learned new biking techniques specifically for riding mountains, and I’ve learned that no matter how challenging things may get, I will always get through it. Mountain biking was definitely a challenge and something I’ve never done before, but in the end, I’ve conquered it.” – Kyla, Outdoor Explorer


“Today I had a great time mountain biking. It was my first time doing something like that, and I had so much fun. There where times where I had a hard time riding the bike up hills but I told myself that I could do anything, so I kept going until I was comfortable riding the bike again. I met so many amazing people, and I even became friends with some of them. Everyone was always supportive, and that kept me from not giving up easily when I felt like I couldn’t ride the bicycle anymore. Mountain biking was a great experience, and I would definitely do it again someday so I would like to thank everyone for everything.” – Norma, Outdoor Explorer


“Today was super fun I was able to meet new people and enjoy something that seemed terrifying at the moment. I met amazing and motivating people.” -Diana, Outdoor Explorer


“ I always figured those people zipping by on trails spraying mud on me had to be having a lot of fun. I was right.” – Rocky, Outdoor Explorer


“I really liked going on the trip because I had lots of fun and met cool people and I’d love to go on another Mountain Biking trip.” – Bradley, Outdoor Explorer


“I really enjoyed being able to make new friends and learning how to bike better. This really helped me get my mind off things, and I really enjoyed it. Thank you for letting me be able to experience this.” – Delaney, Outdoor Explorer


“I really liked this trip because I was able to see China Camp for the first time & absolutely loved it, will be coming back with Richmond Composite. Thank you for allowing me to come!” – Daphne, Outdoor Explorer


The trip was super duper fun, the people there were amazing. 10/10 would do this again.” – Jeremy, Outdoor Explorer

Thank you to Trips for Kids Marin and China Camp State Park! We had a wonderful day and are so excited for future trips!