Ya! more information

 For Young Adults

Crawford Bay, BC, Canada (December, 2012): Guiding Hands Recreation Society announces the launch of a new YA! Program for Young Adults from August 19-29, 2013. The YA! (Young Adult) Program is an 11-day wilderness experience for youth 16-19 years of age. With an in-camp and mountain adventure component, this transformative nature program leads young people to discover who they really are and provides them with the tools to express this new sense of self in effective ways.


The YA! Program began as a collective vision of instructors and participants in the Tipi Camp’s wilderness programs for teens and children. Everyone agreed we needed more. In 2011, the first-ever YA camp took place. The program was a huge success, and has opened the way for an even more transformative and empowering experience in 2013.

“This program has altered the course of my life in a hugely positive direction. I am happier and healthier for the time I’ve spent here.”  – Kyoko, YA participant 2011

YA! Program, group shot Haystack Mountain 2011

YA! Program, Haystack Mountain 2011

This year’s YA! program has partnered up with the SOLIDIFY program (  The combination of these two complementary programs will offer opportunities to explore the natural world around you through a series of leadership initiatives, outdoor skills workshops and a multi-day backcountry trip.  This 11 day, co-ed, summer camp-style program is an opportunity for young adults (aged 16-19) to build confidence through problem solving skills; to work more effectively in teams, and to develop communication skills.

This year’s Program also puts greater emphasis on nature immersion, inviting participants to connect to the powerful elements of the mountains, forest, and pure waters of Kootenay Lake through a variety of individual and group activities.
We have seen over the years that the power of wilderness immersion gives young people space to uncover their own individuality in ways that are unique to each person. Absorbing the power from wilderness, with supportive mentoring from the staff and elders, each person receives the necessary self-awareness, confidence, inspiration and passion to fan the flame of personal leadership in their field of choice.

“The program has pushed all our true selves to the surface so we can really see each other.”  – Rosie, YA participant 2011

Insights from First Nation perspectives and ceremonies are woven into the leaning experience. In the first four days, traditional purification lodge ceremonies help set the tone for the journeying to come.

“Safe spaces are rare these days, especially for young people. This place, that is so free from judgment and selfish thought, is a huge blessing.” – Kyoko

Participants have the opportunity to sleep in a tipi, backpack and camp in the high alpine, and summit a major mountain peak. The young adults explore nature journaling, create an action plan, join in food prep in the community kitchen, connect with mentors and elders, and participate in lots of fun & games. At the heart of the program are the enduring friendships and camaraderie amongst an inspired group of young adults.

“You have given us a place where we can learn to trust people again.” – Kyoko

To give youth the quality of experience they deserve, and to fulfill the mandate for low-impact mountain trekking, the program will only be open to 10 participants this year. To show their commitment to the program, those who wish to take part must participate in a challenging admission process and involve themselves in community-based preparatory activities for approximately 2 months before the camp begins.

YA! Program 2011 Group photo at the peak of Haystack Mountain

Peak of Haystack Mountain. YA! Program 2011

The cost to the participant for this 11 day adventure is $300 CDN, which only covers the individual food costs. The tuition is paid by grants and donations from people and groups that value what we are doing. The real payment comes from the commitment and enthusiasm of each young person.

Applications must be made ASAP on the kootenay solidify website by filling in this form.  There are only 10 spaces per year and some have been filled already. Applicants will be invited to participate in the YA! Program based on a process which includes a statement of interest and intention, and recommendations from the members of the applicant’s home community.

Attention Youth: To receive high school credits for attendance and to direct funding to program operations, we ask all attendees to enroll with Self Design High.

and register in the YA! 2013 Youth Leadership Course here.

The Ya! Program


Guiding Hands Recreation Society has educated people about the value of nature and outdoor recreation for 25 years, and taught individual responsibility for conservation, ecological awareness and sustainability. Under this mandate, the society operates the secluded lakeside Tipi Camp on Kootenay Lake BC, the base camp for the YA! experience. Partnering in this offering is the Kootenay Society for Lifelong Learning and the Self Design High School of Nelson, BC. Self Design is an innovative alternative to public school education.

Anyone interested in the YA! Program can read more about it on this website or on the website from Kootenay Solidify. The Tipi Camp is also on FaceBook, and here is the facebook YA experience page, with pictures off last years event.

For more questions or direct contact:

Sandra Bernier

P.O. Box 20, Crawford Bay, BC
V0B 1E0 Canada
Phone: 250-505-3173


Jonathan Taylor
Phone: 250-354-7511 or email:


Kate Nott   (Kootenay Solidfy)
Phone: 250 551 0417  or e-mail:

Solidify Poster