By Emily Brendler Shoff
The older kids get, the easier it is to take them into the backcountry. This is even true for teenagers, who, despite getting a bad rap for being addicted to all things electronic, can be some of the best adventure companions. Removed from digital distractions, teens often share new sides of themselves in the wilderness. They connect more to each other in the backcountry, and to you. And they gain the practical, outdoor skills to eventually head out on adventures of their own.
No wonder, then, that teen outdoor programs are growing in popularity, ranging from short multi-day trips to summer adventures and semester-long leadership expeditions in almost every adventure discipline: sailing, whitewater rafting, kayaking, backpacking, climbing. There are large organizations like the National Outdoor Leadership School and Outward Bound, with programs across the country and world, as well as smaller, niche groups, like The Ocean Classroom, in Boothbay Harbor, Maine, and Island Wood, outside of Seattle.