About Adventure Treks: A Summer Camp for Teens

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Who We Are

Established in 1993, Adventure Treks has earned a reputation as one of the most professional organizations in the outdoor adventure field. From one teen summer camp in the Pacific Northwest our first year to 20 camps across North America today, we’ve created memorable and life-changing outdoor experiences for more than 18,000 students.

Adventure Treks is more than a just a summer camp for teens. Our two- to four-week outdoor teen adventure camps for students ages 13–18 help great kids build skills for future success. While our students are having the time of their lives rafting, climbing, hiking, ziplining, camping, and biking in some of the greatest scenery on the planet, something else is happening. They are growing in numerous ways: self-confidence, social achievement, teamwork, leadership, and new outdoor skills, to name just a few.

Our son returned for his third year in 2020 because Adventure Treks is thoughtful, supportive, positive, and fun! Daniel loves it so much. AT provides a safe and yet challenging space for teenagers to take risks and make friends outside of school, sports, etc. Every activity, every outing, EVERYTHING at AT has been carefully considered and is done for a reason. After his 2020 trip ended, he said, “we ALL got along well with each other—that’s so unusual for any group of teenagers, mom. There were no cliques, no sub-groups that only hung together.” Lots of long talks, lots of singing, lots of inside jokes, etc. it was heaven for him. Thank you. Thank you. Thank you. What a great gift you gave my kid. – Laura Miller, parent from Cabin John, MD

Think of Adventure Treks as a step up from summer camp; while we still focus on having a ton of fun within an inclusive community, students are able to take on more leadership roles and collaborate to ensure individual and group success. We travel to different areas within a specific region to try all sorts of new activities in new 15-passenger vans, led by caring, experienced, and enthusiastic outdoor leaders.

There’s a whole big, wonderful world outside that’s easy to miss in our electronic-filled world. Adventure Treks provides an environment where teenagers can take steps outside their comfort zone in a supportive and fun environment, surrounded by enthusiastic peers and guided by kind role models—and where safety is always emphasized.

Adventure Treks has always worked hard to bring together a talented and passionate team of outdoor and youth development professionals who love what they do and are excited to share their passion, diverse experiences, and years of hard work with your family. We can promise you a fun and unforgettable summer experience, and would love to speak with you personally to learn about your family and see if our programs and goals match yours. Call us at 828-698-0399 today!

Y’all killed it. Lee was game but dubious going in, motivated in no small part to keep up with his sister. His first night home, he spent about an hour and a half describing each and every day in detail, from first to last. As he got to the end, he observed through teary eyes, “I didn’t know I could form such strong relationships in such a short period of time.” If that’s not a win, I don’t know what is. – Matt Bailey, parent from Greensboro, NC

A welcome from our founder and executive director, John “Dock” Dockendorf
family hiking in united kingdom
The Dockendorf family, from left: Charlie, Ella, Audrey, Ava, Dock, and Jane

Dear parents,

We are facing uncharted territory as we raise our kids in the remarkably rich but increasingly complicated digital age. At Adventure Treks, we want to be your partner as you raise a happy, healthy, and confident teenager.

From a student’s point of view, a teen summer camp is a fun and unique way to leave the comforts and pressures of home to be immersed in unforgettable scenery, learn new skills, and have great adventures with new friends. New students are often nervous, but by trip’s end, most of them have already decided to return for multiple years.

We believe there is no better way than a summer outdoor adventure program to help teens gain a sense of identity and independence away from parents. While students are having fun outside, they are growing in ways they never could at home or through organized sports.

The nature of the experience makes it a natural way to improve communication, creativity, leadership, and collaboration—skills necessary for future success. As they step out of their comfort zone, teens are able to get a glimpse of their best selves and craft a powerful new narrative about all they are able to accomplish. Research shows the narrative (or mindset) we believe about ourselves—the rules we craft for our life’s journey, combined with our grit and determination—are determinants of future success.

This Adventure Treks “mindset” is a reason that 10, 15, and even 25 years after their first AT experience, our graduates say that Adventure Treks was one of the most defining experiences of their lives, having given them the confidence to live bold, impactful, and active lives that includes service to others. The learning sticks at Adventure Treks because of the immediacy and intensity of their experience, and it’s timed appropriately with adolescence, when brains are most receptive to a “disruptive” learning experience.

The advantages of a break from a constant connection with technology was not even on our radar 27 years ago. Now, it’s one of many important benefits, as kids are able to truly enjoy living in a community with face-to-face interaction—and no technology! They soon discover that outdoor activities may actually be even more fun than electronics.

I have been leading the Adventure Treks team for 27 years. Thanks to the meaningful contributions of a dedicated group of people, the program now far exceeds anything I could have envisioned in 1994 when we ran our very first trip to the Pacific Northwest. Two of my four kids will be attending programs in 2021 (my oldest two have aged out), which keeps me as enthusiastic as I was on day one.

While we continue to improve our programs and keep them relevant for kids being raised in the digital age, many things about AT will never change. To deliver the best outcomes, we still keep AT small and personal, because getting to know our families, focusing on safety, and maintaining the integrity of our close-knit communities remains our top priority. We are not surprised, but always gratified, that so many families send all of their children to us.

From my kids’ perspectives, the best part of AT is the profound community experience and deep relationships they form. This is why our return rate is triple that of other programs. There is something about the bonds forged through outdoor challenge and the feeling of being part of something bigger than oneself that bring teenagers together in a very short time. My kids have better and closer friends as a result of Adventure Treks than they do at home. I love the growth and exposure they receive from being part of a community with friends from across the country and around the world.

We’d love to talk with you, learn about your child, and help determine if we are the right fit. We promise we will treat your child the exact same way we treat my own kids (probably a little better!) because we want an Adventure Treks summer to be the best investment you have ever given your child.

John Dockendorf
Founding and executive director