Our inaugural spring Leadership Adventure Semester (LAS) gap program is filling up! We are so excited to embark on this adventure with our students.
The first two weeks of spring LAS will take place in beautiful, warm, sunny Costa Rica. Straddling two oceans and continents, Costa Rica is home to some of the greatest biodiversity on earth. After flying into San Jose and meeting our instructors, we will make our way to our basecamp in Turrialba, one of the country’s oldest towns. Sitting at about 2,135 feet in elevation in the Cordillera Central, Turrialba’s mountainous landscape (it’s home to the 10,958-foot Turrialba Volcano) and snaking rivers provide incredible recreational opportunities. In fact, Turrialba is known as a whitewater hotspot, with the Rio Pacuare, Rio Pejibaye, and Rio Reventazón right next door.
In addition to recreation, the town is perhaps best known for its traditions, preservation of indigenous legacy, natural environment, and the invention of Turrialba cheese.
Jim Wells, director for the Cascadia Adventure Education Center in Washington will be our host and guide in Costa Rica, housing us at his Rancho Cascadia. (Our summer 2021 LAS students will be happy to tell you all about Jim and his hospitality, as he hosted their wilderness first responder and swift water rescue trainings in Washington.) We’ll spend the first few days taking part in intensive whitewater kayaking clinics on the Rio Pejibaye, learning the basics and then more advanced skills with professional river guides. Students will learn how to scout rivers, navigate their boat, paddling techniques, rolling techniques, and more in both inflatable and hard shell kayaks.
Students will then move on to a swift water rescue course with an American Canoe Association–certified instructor; during these two days, students will learn how to throw rescue ropes, swim in rapids, manage river rescue situations, and much more.
Then we’ll embark on our three-day adventure down the world-class Rio Pacuare! Students will learn the basics of paddling rafts down whitewater in rapids up to class IV from our professional guides. On calmer sections, we’ll take some time to explore nearby canyons and waterfalls before setting up camp on the riverbanks at night.
Armed with our newfound river knowledge, students will trade paddles for oars as we jump into canoes for an excursion through jungle passageways and canals to the Caribbean Ocean, where we’ll pitch camp on the beach for the night. As we descend in elevation, the ecosystem changes dramatically, and there are endless opportunities to observe sloths, sea turtles, monkeys, iguanas, and exotic birds.
In between our river adventures, we’ll explore the town of Turrialba, shopping at the local markets, and learning how to budget and cook for ourselves and our group. In addition to learning so many water-related skills, students will naturally develop the inclusive communities Adventure Treks is known for, improving their social and group management skills, leadership and followership skills, and collaboration skills. Instructors will begin handing over more responsibilities to students, including planning the big-picture and day-to-day logistics of our semester.
It’ll be hard to say goodbye to Costa Rica, but everyone will be excited to head north to North Carolina, where we’ll spend the rest of our semester honing our paddling skills and learning and advancing mountain biking, rock climbing, and backpacking skills. There, we’ll also participate in the 80-hour wilderness first responder course, participate in local service projects, and learn “essential life skills,” including basic auto maintenance, interviewing skills and resume-building, and basic carpentry, plumbing, and electrical home maintenance.
Interested in learning more about our Leadership Adventure Semester program? Give us a call at 888-954-5555 or shoot us an email! You may also view the full itinerary here. We’re also happy to put you in touch with an LAS alum so you can hear firsthand about their experience.