Best Wilderness Programs for High Schoolers in Southern California

Kids and teens have a lot more pressure on them now than we did as kids. They have to start thinking about college as early as middle school. They have to start even earlier in a competitive school district. 

Then there are the pressures of social media mixed with classic teen hormone surges and a seemingly more grow-up-fast culture. It’s safe to say that our kids and teens could use a break from the classic school and everyday life environment. 

But what kind of break? They need to spend some time in nature. Not just because it’s good for their health, but because it brings out the best in people.  Here are some reasons why teens benefit from spending time outside. 

Here’s how to choose the best wilderness programs for high schoolers.  

The Benefits of Teens Spending Time in Nature 

You know all the stresses teens are under. We don’t suggest a few days or a week under the stars will completely relive their anxiety.  But a few days completely out of their pressure-filled environment might help them relax and have fun. They will return with a renewed sense of purpose and a better mood. 

It’s scientifically proven!  Researchers did a study on mood and nature exposure by sending students out into the forest for two nights (camping) vs an in-school control group. The students that spent time camping outdoors came back with noticeably lower cortisol (the stress hormone). 

In another similar study, researchers found that participants who spent time in nature had lower heart rates than people in the city. It’s a phenomenon researchers decided to call “forest therapy”. 

We don’t call it therapy, we call it outdoor education. And we’re experts at it, with years of practice. 

Nature Nixes Anxiety and Depression 

Spending time in nature doesn’t cure someone with a diagnosed depression or anxiety disorder, but it can make them feel better! A study found that nature walks (like those through our acres of forest) decreased anxiety and bad moods. 

Another researcher went as far as to say outdoor walks could be a good supplement to medical depression and anxiety treatment. They’re also a good way to keep normal hormone-related mood issues from getting bad enough to turn into prolonged issues.  

It Helps Build Confidence 

Mountains and problems are often compared. It’s just as overwhelming to look up at a big problem as it is to be at the bottom of a mountain you want to climb. But once you climb that mountain, you get a sense of accomplishment. 

That accomplishment doesn’t just apply to your mountain climbing adventure. It carries over into the rest of your life and helps you conquer those problems the same way you got up the mountain. 

While we won’t be summiting Mt. Everest, we do have some challenging hikes with a great payoff view at the top. Teaching teens that they can climb mountains make their other problems seem a little bit smaller. 

It Builds Relationships 

Think back to when humans had to face things like day-long hikes every day, hunting and gathering – you know, the primal things. That reality wasn’t as long as we think it was. There are plenty of behaviors modern humans have that we share with our tribal ancestors. 

One of those? Building relationships in the great outdoors. When you’re facing the elements (even though our weather is usually good) it’s much easier to work as a team or group than to work alone. 

Seemingly petty things don’t seem so important when you’re depending on someone to help you climb a rock wall. Whether your teen has known the people they’re going with their whole life or they’re perfect strangers, they’ll come back with new friends and healthier relationships. 

The Experience 

Now that you know why it‘s so important for teens to spend time outdoors in a program like Pali Outback, let’s talk about what it’s actually like. 

The mission of the program is to introduce a different kind of learning to teens – from seventh grade to senior year. We want them to try their hand at experiential education, which is much more applicable to real life than knowing how to write a book report. 

In only three days teens will learn what they’re capable of when they’re submerged in our outdoor environment. 

When it comes to the curriculum, we can help you create the perfect course and experience for your group. We have some pre-made curriculum you can pull from, through our Pali Institute programs. They include outdoor learning, leadership, and science courses. 

The Details

Ever wanted to go on a camping trip where you sleep in tents that float off the ground? You do now! On our three-day adventure teachers and students will sleep in suspended tents (provided by us) which are rigged up to three gorgeous (and strong) San Bernardino trees. 

Students sleep three to a tent, and instructors sleep in tents next to them. They’ll learn how to cook their own food in the wilderness, using camping stoves and fires (that they helped build). 

And even though they’ll be having the time of their lives, they’ll can still officially be in school! Our programs are accredited by the Association for Experimental Education and the Western Association of Schools and Colleges. 

The Best Wilderness Program for High Schoolers 

Your students need a break – but not the kind they’ll spend playing video games. They need a break that includes learning at the best wilderness program for high schoolers. 

We’re here to talk to you about any questions you may have and to help you customize this adventure. What are you waiting for? It’s time to get started!