Teen Leadership Camp
Our Teen Leadership Camp sessions offer 15 - 17 year olds the chance to take on new wilderness challenges, exercise leadership on multiple levels, and practice skills vital to becoming independent backpackers and trip leaders - all while forming a truly unique and unforgettable community. Depending on the selected Session, teens will go on backpacking trips anywhere from 3-10 days long, on which they will learn important trail skills from their counselors, including trail cooking, topo map reading, orienteering, and trip planning. When not on the trail, our TLCers play instrumental roles as community leaders for our Wombat Campers (aged 9-14) - designing and facilitating activities for the younger campers at least once a session. Finally, in each TLC session there are always endless opportunities to cook, dance, play, swim, art and craft, and whatever else we can come up with in our breaks from hiking and working with Wombat Camp. Summer after summer we watch our teens become independent and confident hikers, empathetic and engaged community members, and we see them shine their brightest in the company of strong friendships, stunning mountain views, and life-long memories.
Session Descriptions & Dates
These exciting programs take the Summer Camp experience to a whole new level for 15 - 17 year olds. We offer three two-week hiking programs; each session has a different focus and physical intensity:
SESSION 1: Intermediate Backpacking: TLC Session 1 is a fantastic mix of hiking and in-camp activities. Teens go on two backpacking trips, generally a three-day trip and a five-day, gaining valuable wilderness skills. On trail campers are split up into teams responsible for bear bagging, cooking, setting up shelter, and water purification. Leaders of the Day are aided by counselors in learning to read topo maps, navigate, and direct daily activities. Teens participating in this program are strongly recommended to have prior athletic or hiking experience and should expect to be somewhat challenged by the physically-intensive nature of the program. (Average on trail of 5-8 miles a day on mountainous terrain). When not on trail, TLC holds a huge role in creating and facilitating activities for Camp Woolman’s younger campers (aged 9-14) - a key opportunity for leadership.
SESSION 1 DATES: June 23 - July 6
SESSION 2: Advanced Backpacking: TLC Session 2 is designed for teens strongly interested in developing wilderness skills, challenging themselves physically, and learning about the natural world. Teens go on a ten-day backpacking trip through the mountainous terrain of the Sierra Nevadas. On trail, campers are split up into teams responsible for bear bagging, cooking, setting up shelter, and water purification. Leaders of the day are aided by counselors in learning to read topo maps, navigate, and direct daily activities. The Hiking Intensive Session requires a high level of prior athletic or hiking experience. By nature of the intensive hiking, this program is not for everyone. (Average on trail of 7-13 miles a day on mountainous terrain). Applicants must be accepted into the program. After registration our TLC Camp Director will contact you to discuss the camper’s hiking and physical abilities to ensure this is the proper fit for your teen.
SESSION 2 DATES: July 7 - July 20
SESSION 3: Beginner Backpacking: TLC Session 3 is great for teens new to backpacking and/or want more in-camp activities, as well ample opportunities to create and lead activities for our younger campers. In this session the teens go on two 3-5 day trips that are less hiking-intensive, but offer similar wilderness experiences as the other sessions. On trail campers learn and practice wilderness skills such as bear bagging, cooking, setting up shelter, and water purification. Leaders of the day are aided by counselors in learning to read topo maps, navigate, and direct daily activities. When not on trail, TLC participants will be largely integrated into the schedule of Wombat Camp (campers aged 9-14) often creating and facilitating the activities for the younger campers as a tool for practicing leadership. TLC participants will also embark on projects and activities of their own, such as farming, cooking, gardening, art, and team building. This session is ideal for teens with little to no backpacking experience. In designing the backpacking trips, we will do our best to accommodate campers of all physical abilities.
SESSION 3 DATES: July 21 - Aug 3
What Our Programs Offer
• Incredible trips to locations throughout Tahoe National Forest including Grouse Ridge, Castle Peak and the Yuba River. Teens get to embark on longer and more challenging expeditions, gaining valuable wilderness skills and taking important steps to becoming skilled backpacking leaders.
• Learn new skills like trip planning, leadership, trail cooking, native plant identification, permaculture, primitive skills, survival skills and even time for solo wilderness reflection.
• Leadership opportunities from working with the younger campers, working together, and using creative problem solving in team-building exercises both on and off the trail
• Place-based education will give you fascinating insights about the natural world you call home. Explore the depth of yourself as a sensitive, unique and dynamic human being in a constantly transitioning world. ALL learning is outside the box, and you are not just the learner---you are the teacher too. This is the chance to really explore the depths of your capacity to share the things that you feel are significant in an interactive process of self discovery and environmental exploration.
• Personal achievements combine good work with interesting learning and great fun. The pursuit of goal designed by your own interests drive the experience. You will be supported to grow exactly the way you wish, with challenges fit to your unique heart and mind.
• Amazing friendships that last and open new doors. Whether they are campers that return each summer, or teens totally new to the Woolman experience, we see incredibly strong connections form among the teen participants that embark on the TLC journey together. Not only are long lasting friendships formed, but shared experiences of backpacking and trail life, cooking and singing in the kitchen, making art with younger campers, and staying up late to gaze at the stars, can spark a lifetime of adventure and responsibility.
Teen Leadership Camp Goals
1. To foster, facilitate and support the growth of teen minds, hearts and spirits.
2. To explore the natural world and create platforms for reflection upon one's place in it and impact on it.
3. To develop and mature the capacity for self-reliance and the depth of worldly awareness.
4. To gain skills and confidence in being outdoor explorers and backpackers
5. To challenge the breadth of communication skills, experiences moments of genuine empathy and openness
6. To provide direct, active platforms for leadership at multiple levels, and to explore different formats of leadership itself.
7. To examine the notions of peace, justice, sustainability, simplicity and integrity, and how each influence our lives and our values.
8. To seek and to find moments of silence, reflection, relaxation, connection and joy---with friends new and old, and under the tutelage of caring and supportive guides.
This program is a powerful pathway for any teen. It is underscored by a commitment to balance camper-driven objectives with counselor guided challenges. No camper will ever be pushed more than they choose with their own free will.
Here at Camp Woolman, we strive to create an inclusive and welcoming environment. Teens of all genders will share the Fern House as their living space on site (supervised at all times by the TLC counselors, who reside there as well). The Fern House is equipped with many bunk beds, a living room space, a small kitchen for late night snacking, and is a short walk to the Teen Bathhouse - equipped with single stalled toilets and showers.
Each TLC session costs $1550. Discounts and Scholarships are available! Please see our Dates & Rates Page and Financial Assistance page for more info. To inquire about scholarships please contact us at
Ready to Register for TLC? Click Here For Summer 2019 Registration
“Teen Leadership Camp offered diverse outdoor activities around Woolman core values, allowing kids to challenge themselves physically, mentally, emotionally, and spiritually. From "going the distance" while backpacking or biking to time spent alone reflecting, the two weeks spent at camp helped our son mature in an environment of fun and caring.”