What outdoor experiences do you offer?

BOLD & GOLD operates one and two-week summer trips that include a mix of climbing, camping, and backpacking experiences. 

What can I expect from a BOLD & GOLD experience?

Whether this is your first trip, or you are an experienced backpacker, we are excited for you to adventure with BOLD & GOLD this summer!  

Your trip will start at the Cascade People’s Center where you will meet your instructors and fellow participants in an opening circle and start to get to know one another. Together you will prepare for your journey by participating in a gear check where BOLD & GOLD staff will review personal and group gear and teach you how best to pack your backpack. If you are borrowing items from the BOLD & GOLD gear library, you’ll receive them during the gear check. Once the group is packed, you’ll eat lunch, have a safety briefing with your course director, and then travel by bus to your first destination! Most overnight trips will spend their first night at a frontcountry, or drive-in, campsite where there are usually basic amenities like bathrooms and running water. The next day backpacking trips will hike to their first wilderness campsite while climbing and front country trips continue to stay at drive-in campgrounds for the duration of their experience.  

Backpacking and mountaineering programs are what we consider backcountry programs. This means that the majority of their time is spent in remote areas with no access to electricity and plumbing. These programs are moving from one campsite to another while carrying everything they need with them in backpacks. Mountaineering trips contain a mix of rock climbing and backpacking elements with more potential to travel over snow, ice, and glaciers. Climbing and other frontcountry trips drive each day to a climb site or park for day hikes and ranger programs.  

Regardless of the trip, each day will include a mix of outdoor adventure, leadership development, and fun! You will take turns being the Leader of the Day, the group photographer, the journal keeper and more!  

On the last day of your adventure, you will break down your campsite and return to the Cascade People’s Center where your group will unpack, clean group gear, and participate in a closing circle.

How is BOLD & GOLD different from summer resident camp experiences?

Utilizing small groups of no more than 10 participants, BOLD & GOLD creates spaces where teens are challenged to work as a team to accomplish their goals and develop as leaders within their communities. BOLD & GOLD trips travel in National Parks and other public lands throughout Washington. Trips are remote with limited to no access to running water, electricity, or internet allowing participants to experience a deep connection to nature. BOLD & GOLD participants are given responsibility for day-to-day tasks and collaborate to successfully navigate the challenges of wilderness travel and weather all while making friends, exploring beautiful places, and having fun. 

Do you offer financial aid?

The Y values the richness that diversity brings to our community and a shared commitment to nurturing the potential of kids, improving health and well-being, and giving back. To ensure equitable access for all the Y offers affordable options at all of our 14 branches and for our programs..

Interested in Applying for Financial Assistance? Click here to be directed to your UltraCamp account page to complete the application.

How many participants are on each trip?

There are up to 10 participants on each trip with 2 instructors.

How challenging are the trips?

One-week expeditions are introductory and are appropriate for participants who have never been on this type of adventure before. Two-week and three-week expeditions are more challenging. Participants new to this type of adventure can be successful if they are very motivated, open to learning new skills, willing to work closely as a team, and are able to demonstrate leadership skills. Trips may be very challenging at times regardless of a participant’s experience in the outdoors, but the instructors will ensure that everything is within the abilities of the group. You do not need to have any outdoor experience to complete a BOLD or GOLD expedition and you do not need to be an athlete. Being in shape and physically active before you arrive is helpful but is not required on introductory experiences. Come prepared to meet new people, try new things, have fun and challenge yourself. You may make mistakes, but you will learn from them and go on to meet challenges, both individually and as a group.

Check out the Trip Guide for all of our trip offerings!  

How far do I backpack & how heavy will my pack be?

It depends on the trip. Beginner level backpacking expeditions may travel 3 to 5 miles each day. More advanced trips may travel up to 10 miles per day. Each participant's size and ability to carry the weight of the backpack is taken into consideration. Backpacks may weigh up to 35 lbs.

Do I have to carry all of my stuff with me?

On backpacking trips, participants will carry all of their personal belongings as well as some of the group gear and food. For frontcountry trips, participants will only carry a daypack with what they need for the day. This might include climbing gear, warm layers, water, and food. Personal belongings will be kept in a duffle or backpack back at the campsite.

How do groups travel to their campsites?

All our adventures travel by bus to their destinations. On backcountry trips, participants will be dropped off at a trail head; for frontcountry adventures participants will have a minibus with you to travel to hiking and/or climbing destinations.

How will I keep in touch with family and friends?

Trip instructors will have a satellite phone for emergencies and will have scheduled check-ins with their course directors in Seattle. We know it will be challenging to be away from home for a week, or two, but the satellite phone is for instructor use only.

What happens in the event of an emergency?

In the event of an emergency, we have developed an extensive Emergency Action Plan (EAP) that includes communication with land managers such as the National Park Service and provides support for all of our groups out in the field. All office staff and instructors have been trained in the EAP. All staff are certified in Wilderness First Aid and CPR, with many of our staff possessing a Wilderness First Responder or Wilderness EMT certification. Instructors are the first to provide emergency care to the level of their training. Additionally, our program has on-call doctors and an on-call mental health specialist available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week when further assistance is necessary.

Who are the instructors?

Creating a physically and emotionally safe space for all participants is an essential component to the program. We carefully select our instructors from a rigorously screened group and train them extensively. Instructors are selected for their level of expertise in the outdoors, their experience with teens and their ability to be positive role models for young people. We hire international staff from many different countries. Having international staff facilitating our programs brings an opportunity for cultural exchange and learning for participants and staff.

In addition to working for BOLD & GOLD, our instructors do everything from teaching middle school math to climbing first ascents on big mountains in Alaska. Participants will be led by our outstanding wilderness instructors. All trips are staffed by at least two instructors, who are selected through an application and interview process as outlined by the YMCA of Greater Seattle.

Instructors also have the following qualifications:

  • All staff must pass a national background screening
  • All staff are certified in CPR & Wilderness First Aid, a 16-hour advanced First Aid class specific to a wilderness setting
  • Most staff have also completed an 80-hour Wilderness First Responder training or a 200-hour Wilderness EMT. (Note: All of our trips will have at least one instructor who is trained as a Wilderness First Responder or a Wilderness EMT.)
  • Staff have documented experience and competency in their specific recreational field
  • Staff training lasts 14 days and includes sessions on backcountry and trip-specific technical skills, program structure, safety practices, emergency response, child abuse prevention, and values-based programming

In conjunction with a professional expedition staff, we support the program with a seasonal director team who is chosen for their experience working with young people, leading trips, and their passion for teen programs.

What happens with medications while on a trip?

All trips are equipped with over-the-counter medication, such as Tylenol, ibuprofen, Benadryl, Dramamine, cough medicine, and decongestants. These items do not need to be sent with the participant.  

All medications must be turned in to staff at check-in, where it will be given to instructors. All participant medication, supplements, or vitamins, prescribed or over the counter, must be reported on the Camp Care Info Form. Please bring enough medication to last the entire length of the program. All medications, supplements and vitamins must be in the original packaging/bottle and unexpired. Additionally, prescription medication must include labeling that identifies the prescribing physician, the name of the medication, the dosage, and the frequency of dispensation. Prescription medications must be in the participant’s name.

Participants who use inhalers should bring TO inhalers, in case one is lost or broken. Participants that require epinephrine should bring TWO epi-pens. No loose pills/vitamins in Ziploc bags. Our staff can re-package medications that come larger containers into smaller containers appropriate for their trip. Participants are not allowed to self-administer medicine.

What will I eat?

All meals for overnight trips are provided by BOLD & GOLD. Participants need only bring a bag lunch for their first day. Our instructors create a meal plan based on the dietary needs of all participants. Instructors are sure to bring food that is suitable for a wilderness trip. Everyone will get the opportunity to learn how to cook and prepare meals while on their trip. The menu is largely vegetarian with lots of grains, pasta, cheese, beans, veggies, dried fruit, and nuts. Meat is heavy and spoils easily, but we do occasionally eat tuna and summer sausage. 

Example Typical Menu: 

  • Breakfast: Oatmeal or granola  

  • Snack: Dried Fruit  

  • Lunch: Summer Sausage, cheese, crackers, tortillas, peanut butter and jelly 

  • Snack: Trail mix (mixed nuts and M&Ms), goldfish, pretzels 

  • Dinner: Burritos, Rice and beans, salsa, tortillas, cheese; pasta dish; or macaroni and cheese 

Participants will be given a supply of sweet and salty trail mix, to eat whenever they get hungry. It usually contains M&Ms, a variety of nuts, and raisins. In addition to their personal trail mix, there are two group snacks a day such as peanut butter pretzels, goldfish, or dried fruit. 

Can you accommodate food allergies or special diets?

In the Camp Care Info Form there will be an opportunity to alert us of any and all food allergies, their severity, and/or special dietary requirements. Our staff work hard to provide well-balanced, culturally relevant, healthy meals during each adventure, and are customized for each trips’ participants. Additionally, we can accommodate lactose intolerance, pork-free, beef-free, and other common food allergies, such as gluten and nuts. However, if dietary needs are beyond aforementioned situations, or are severe and/or complex, please contact us to make arrangements at (206) 659-0231.  

What about drinking water? How do you purify it?

On our backcountry trips, we will purify our drinking water using a chemical method or filtration system and we boil water used for cooking. Instructors will teach participants how to properly treat their water before drinking.

What gear do I need?

Having the right gear will make the experience more enjoyable for participants. General packing lists for trips are listed here, and can also be found in the Participant Corner of out website. BOLD & GOLD will provide all of the technical and group gear. Participants will have an opportunity to request items to borrow from our extensive gear library using the Gear Request form in their paperwork.  

Participants that already own some equipment and would prefer to use it for their trip are welcome to do so. Just make sure that it is already on the packing list. Instructors will inspect any personal equipment at the beginning of the trip, and if it does not meet the standards of the experience, it can be stored in a locker at the Seattle base camp during the trip. Space will be available for storing luggage and excess clothing. Please leave all valuables such as jewelry, iPods, cell phones, video games and other electronic devices; weapons, including camping knives and hatchets; fireworks; tobacco products; illegal drugs; and alcohol at home. 

If you have questions about gear please contact our BOLD & GOLD team at 206- 659 0231. 

Can I borrow gear from BOLD & GOLD?

Absolutely! BOLD & GOLD has an extensive gear library to ensure that everyone is fully equipped with everything participants need for their experience. Gear is issued to participants during the gear check on the first day of their adventure. The gear check takes place after the conclusion of the opening circle and families have said their good-byes.  

Should I bring spending money?

Money is not needed and strongly discouraged.

What is Leave No Trace?

Leave No Trace refers to a set of outdoor ethics promoting conservation in the outdoors. It is built on seven principles:  

  1. Plan ahead and prepare 

  1. Travel and camp on durable surfaces 

  1. Dispose of waste properly 

  1. Leave what you find 

  1. Minimize campfire impacts 

  1. Respect wildlife 

  1. Be considerate of other visitors 

While on a BOLD & GOLD trip, we expect every participant to uphold and practice the Leave No Trace principles. Instructors will help participants understand how we practice Leave No Trace in the areas that they are adventuring in.

What about animals?

When we are spending time outside, we are not only getting closer to the people in the group, we are also spending time closer to wildlife. We practice the Leave No Trace principle of Respect Wildlife so that we minimize impacts on the animals around us. This means proper food storage, packing out garbage, and giving animals plenty of space. Most animals are afraid of large groups like ours and stay away. The most frequent animal interaction we see on BOLD & GOLD trips are mosquitos! Which is why we send groups with bug spray!  

Where will I sleep?

We provide lightweight pyramid-shaped shelters called mega-mids that typically house 3–4 participants. Each participant will use a ground tarp, sleeping pad, warm sleeping bag, and learn how to make a pillow out of clothes. Instructors will be sleeping in their shelters close by. Privacy takes on a new meaning when sharing a shelter with three other people. While in close quarters for most of the time, each participant has their own personal sleeping area and pack for their personal belongings, and efforts will be made to provide privacy for changing clothes, etc. If weather allows, tris may also utilize tarps or encourage sleeping under the stars. 

How do I go to the bathroom?

Bathroom facilities vary across different trips and locations. Most frontcountry trips will have facilities that include traditional bathrooms or pit toilets. On backpacking trips, camp sites will have pit toilets nearby. All trips are equipped with toilet paper and hand sanitizer as well as extra menstruation supplies. Instructors will teach the art of Leave No Trace pooping and staying clean in the backcountry. Check out this video from Kula Cloth about using the bathroom in the backcountry. https://youtu.be/RpGs0okK5Kc  

How do I manage menstruation?

Menstruating on trips is very manageable! On frontcountry trips, most groups have access to bathrooms with running water as well as more established trash cans for disposing of menstruation products. On backcountry trips, participants will be able to dispose of menstruation products in small, opaque, blue bags while using pit toilets. These bags are then packed out with the rest of the garbage and disposed of in garbage cans. All trips bring toilet paper and hand sanitizer as well as extra menstruation supplies to help participants stay clean. We recommend that all participants who have periods bring menstruation supplies on their trip—even if they don’t think they will have their period—as sometimes changes in diet and exercise can affect one’s menstrual cycle. Here is some helpful information from REI about menstruation in the backcountry. https://www.rei.com/learn/expert-advice/backpacking-with-your-period.html  

Will I be able to take a shower?

When on trips, shower facilities are not available. Participants can choose to take “camp showers” which involve bathing in a stream or lake. Instructors will demonstrate bathing options when appropriate and explain more about hygiene on the first day of the trip. 

Where and when do the expeditions begin and end?

All trips begin and end in Seattle at our base camp located at:

Cascade People’s Center
309 Pontius Ave N, Seattle, WA 98109
P: 206.659.0231

Check-in times are staggered the first morning of the trip. The specific check-in time for each trip will be provided in the welcome email. Each trip begins with an opening circle for participants and families. Upon arrival, participants will meet instructors and receive all necessary gear needed for their trip.  

All participants will be expected to help with the de-issuing process of the group and personal gear after the trip returns. Family and friends should plan to attend a brief closing celebration which begins at 4:30 pm. Participants will be ready to depart by 5:00 pm on the final day of the trip. Pick-up folks are encouraged to arrive on time and will have the opportunity to check in with instructors about the trip.  

We will let our participants and families know if pick up and drop off times are different from above.

Who do I contact with more questions?

Contact our Camping & Outdoor Leadership admissions team at campinfo@seattleymca.org or call (206) 382-5009

Find Your Answers

We know you have lots of questions about BOLD & GOLD and we’ve done our best to answer them. Read about our planned safety protocols, gear library, and other frequently asked questions below.

The questions and answers listed below are specific to summer programming but you may find them useful to learn more about BOLD & GOLD.