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 hike the coastal mountains of Los Padres National Forest, find meaning in a local service project, kayak through sea caves, and walk through wildflower-strewn meadows on Santa Cruz Island in 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!
Hiking Los Padres National Forest & Community Service
On arrival in Los Angeles, we’ll head up the coast to Santa Barbara and the gorgeous Los Padres National Forest. Here, we’ll learn the fundamentals of setting up tents, camp cooking and meals, and cooperative group living. Our next two full days will be spent trekking the surrounding trails where we’ll hike beneath towering mountains and along refreshing, cool streams. Giving our feet a rest, we’ll spend a morning working with a local community organization to foster a sense of gratitude for the communities that have welcomed us.
Sea Kayaking & Hiking the Channel Islands
Our next big adventure will take us off the coast to Channel Islands National Park. From the ferry to Santa Cruz Island, we’ll keep our eyes peeled for Humpback, Blue, and Orca whales, along with dolphins, seals, and too many species of birds to count. Once on shore, our professional guides will teach us the basics of sea kayaking, along with in-depth safety measures, before we set off to explore Santa Cruz’s coast and many sea caves from the water. We’ll spend the next two days exploring the stunning cliffs, beaches, and coves on foot. Throughout our time on the island, we’re sure to spot several impossibly cute island fox, which 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 first on land before heading out to 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 every night in established campsites over the course of our trip. Leaders will separate students by gender into tent groups 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?
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 often will my child call home on this trip?
You can expect to receive a phone call from your child once during their trip, usually around the halfway point.
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