Over the course of nine action-packed days, our Golden State Adventurers will explore some of Southern California’s most memorable sights. On this diverse itinerary, you’ll explore Santa Barbara’s coastal mountains, sea kayak the cool Pacific waters, find meaning in a local service project, trek through the wildflower-strewn meadows of Channel Islands National Park, and even find time to hang ten as you surf the beaches of Malibu. Stunning ocean vistas, wildlife aplenty, and, last but certainly not least, a terrific new group of friends await!
Exploring the Gaviota Coast by Foot and Kayak
On arrival in Los Angeles, we’ll head up the coast to Santa Barbara and experience our first taste of the rugged coastlines and beautiful beaches. Here, we’ll learn the fundamentals of setting up tents, camp cooking and meals, and cooperative group living. After tackling our first hike, our professional guides will teach us the basics of sea kayaking, along with in-depth safety measures, before we set off to explore the largely untouched Gaviota Coast north of Santa Barbara.
Hiking & Community Service in the Channel Islands
Our next big adventure will take us off the coast to Channel Islands National Park. Ferrying out from Ventura to the island we’ll call home for the next several days, we’ll be on the lookout for Humpback, Blue, and Orca whales, along with dolphins, seals, and too many species of birds to count. We’ll spend the next few days exploring the stunning cliffs, beaches, and coves on foot. Giving our feet a rest, we’ll also spend a morning working on a community service project on the island to foster a sense of gratitude for the communities that have welcomed us. Throughout our time in the Channel Islands, we’re sure to spot the Island Fox, an impossibly cute fox that can’t be found anywhere else in the world.
Surfing & Exploring Santa Monica
Returning to the mainland, we’ll cap off our epic adventure with a SoCal classic: surfing one of Malibu’s pristine beaches. Our professional guides will cover surfing fundamentals on the beach before we ride the azure waves of the Pacific. Once we’re off the water, we’ll get cleaned up and head to the world-famous Santa Monica Pier to reminisce on our time together and celebrate our new friendships!
Please see our General FAQ page for many more frequently asked questions and answers!
How physically challenging is GSA?
Given a rating of Challenge Level 3 (out of a maximum of 10), we consider GSA to be a beginner hiking trip that any moderately fit, motivated student can successfully complete with some prior preparation. Compared to similar hiking trips, we believe that GSA is similar in challenge level to both Colorado’s Rocky Mountains and New England Mountains & Coast, but easier than California Mountains & Coast or Maine’s Downeast Explorer. Please note that all of Apogee’s Challenge Levels are not scientific and are subjectively calculated by the Apogee staff.
Where will my child be sleeping at night?
Our GSA groups will be camping for seven of the eight nights of the trip in established campsites. The final night will be spent indoors in a Santa Monica hostel. Leaders will separate students by gender into tent groups and rooms and will rotate those groups several times over the course of our trip. Students will share a tent with one or two other students.
Is there a “backcountry” component to this trip?
In a sense, yes, although not in the same way that some of our other trips experience the backcountry. Organizations like Apogee define the “backcountry” as having a group more than one hour from definitive care. As such, our time camping in the Channel Islands National Park constitutes “backcountry” camping as we’ll be more than an hour off-shore. We should consider this as “beginner backcountry,” however, as all of our hiking will be on established and frequently-used trails and all of the camping (including on the island) is in established campgrounds with potable water and bathrooms.
How much weight will my child carry on the hiking portions of this trip?
Not a lot. As there is no overnight backpacking on this trip, your child will be carrying between five and ten pounds during their longer hikes, composed mostly of an extra layer of clothes, rain gear, water, and snacks.
I’m worried about wildfires affecting my child’s trip. What are Apogee’s wildfire contingency plans?
Like you, we’ve been concerned as we’ve followed the recent wildfires throughout the West. While the devastation has been alarming and often heartbreaking, the good news is that, given the vast expanses in the West, our itineraries have rarely been affected by wildfire. That said, we have changed itineraries without hesitation when necessary. During the summer, we monitor new and existing wildfires on a daily basis. When it comes to the need to move a group or otherwise change an itinerary, we will always err on the side of caution. In the event that a wildfire – either the fire itself or the resulting air quality – becomes too close for comfort, we have evacuation and contingency plans for each location and activity of our trip. We will make sure to keep families in the loop with up-to-date information if we need to change the itinerary in any way.
What does the community service portion of this trip entail?
The specifics of our community service projects and the number of hours we volunteer might vary slightly, but we plan on working with a local land trust or community organization on a variety of tasks including seed spreading, invasive species removal, and trail maintenance. Students can expect 3-5 hours of community service work, usually over the course of one day.
How will I communicate with my child while they are on this trip?
We are a technology-free program, meaning that your child won’t have access to their phone or other electronics over the course of their trip. That said, students will get a chance to call home on their trip leaders’ phones once over the course of the trip (usually on Day 9 of the trip). We also have one mail stop on Golden State Adventure; parents, relatives, and friends are welcome to use this to send letters or packages to a student. If you have an urgent message to get to your child, please call our office and we’ll work to get you connected with your child.
Aside from the trip cost, what are the additional expenses for this trip?
Apogee’s tuition costs are meant to be all-inclusive and include all meal, accommodation, and activity fees. The most significant additional expenses on our GSA trip are pre-trip expenses, including travel to and from Los Angeles, a sleeping bag and sleeping pad, and hiking boots.
My child will be flying to this trip start. How will they connect with their leaders?
Please note that Apogee staff members do not travel with students; our trip leaders will already be in Los Angeles on arrival day and will stay in Los Angeles after the trip ends. Apogee staff and trip leaders will have a detailed flight itinerary for each student who is flying to the trip start and will be at the airport to greet them on arrival. Once students are with their leaders, they will call home to let their parents know they have arrived and are with their group. Please see our blog post for specifics regarding students traveling as Unaccompanied Minors. Further, we encourage you to coordinate travel with other attendees; we’re happy to put you in touch with other enrolled families from your region. We will provide enrolled families with a Travel Information document covering details specific to traveling to and from Los Angeles, including airport information and arrival and departure time windows. Please contact Apogee with any specific questions or concerns regarding drop-offs and/or pick-ups