Teen Leadership Expedition — North Carolina, Backpacking & Whitewater
At the National Center for Outdoor & Adventure Education (NCOAE), we know adventure. Immerse yourself in outdoor adventure, while learning the technical skills to travel & explore remote destinations!
With NCOAE’s North Carolina 12-day Teen Leadership Expedition, you’ll explore some of America’s most historic terrain – the majestic Blue Ridge mountains. Travel along cold-mountain streams, cascading waterfalls, and mountain passes, as you explore the Pisgah National Forest & the French Broad River!
This 12-day North Carolina hiking trip is designed specifically for teens in search of developing into better leaders and mastering practical outdoor survival skills. The journey features an adventurous backpacking trek through the Appalachian Mountains, along with an adrenaline filled whitewater rafting cruise down the French Broad River. This teen leadership expedition is perfect for those with a nose for adventure and a passion for the North Carolina wilderness.
During your expedition, you will have the opportunity to sharpen your backpacking, kayaking, and other skills including map & compass, river navigation, stove use, backcountry cooking and more. You may even get the chance to apply your new skills in the last few days of the course with a “graduation climb” up a mountain peak.
Explore the heart of the Appalachians, hiking over rocky ridges and discovering hidden swimming holes while learning, sharpening, and practicing your leadership and outdoor technical skills.
- Leave No Trace (LNT) training
- Expedition planning and logistics
- Whitewater kayaking skills
- Advanced backpacking skills
- Remote wilderness camp craft, including backcountry cooking and food planning
- Develop essential wilderness knowledge and skills — while living and learning in North Carolina’s wild, beautiful places.
- Explore the Appalachian Mountain range
- Paddle along the French Broad River
- Immerse yourself in a wonderland of densely forested hills, cool mountain streams, cascading waterfalls, and stunning rock formations.
- Acquire the outdoor skills needed to travel in pristine destinations around the world!
Not currently offered for this expedition.
- Gain new leadership and outdoor skills
- Make new friends and lasting memories
- Explore wild and remote North Carolina mountains from the trail to the rivers
- Challenge yourself like never before
- Eat amazing backcountry meals
On the Map
- Pisgah National Forest
- Shining Rock Wilderness
- French Broad River
- Carolina Beach, NC
North Carolina Teen Expedition Program Video
Frequently Asked Questions
What is the 12-day North Carolina – Teen Leadership Expedition?
The North Carolina – Backpacking & Whitewater Paddling teen leadership expedition is a 12-day wilderness adventure during which you’ll participate in backpacking and kayaking activities – while learning how to travel in the outdoors on a multi-day backcountry course.
You’ll visit a variety of areas while you explore the Blue Ridge Mountains, French Broad River, and Pisgah National Forest. Along the way, you’ll explore the rugged ridges of these mountain areas as you practice the basics of camp setup, backpacking, whitewater paddling, and other outdoor skills.
Where will we be staying?
We’ll be living in tents and enjoying our evenings in different areas most nights, identifying the stars and sharing highlights of our learning.
Is the 12-day course offered in other locations or on different dates?
We offer this course in a variety of locations and during different periods throughout the summer to accommodate the destination and schedule that works best for you. You can also explore the Pacific Northwest on a 12-day summer expedition!
Who should take this course?
This course is best suited to those who want to challenge on a memorable summer adventure!
What do I need to do to physically prepare for this course?
You do not need to be an “Ironman” to participate in this course. That said, you will be required to carry your own pack, with your own gear and some group gear. While backpacking, your pack will weigh between 30 and 40 pounds at any given time, while hiking over rugged terrain.
What is the average group size and instructor/student ratio?
Each group has two or three instructors and eight to 12 students. We maintain an instructor-to-student ratio of no less than one instructor for every six students.
What are the ages of participants?
The age for this course is 15-17 year olds.
What gear and equipment do I need?
NCOAE provides all necessary group gear and food, but you will want, or be required, to bring certain items for yourself. We encourage you to contact NCOAE with all of your gear questions as early as possible. Start planning now by viewing the NCOAE pack list for this course.
Beyond my tuition, what will I need to pay for during the course?
Your tuition with NCOAE covers all major costs related to your room, board, and lodging, except when specified in the itinerary. Each student should bring a small amount of spending money for personal items; such as souvenirs, extra snacks, and gifts.
What kind of food will I be eating?
Since we will be carrying all of our food, we’ll be eating many of the items that begin in their dehydrated forms; water weight is not something we want to carry. Expect meat, vegetables, fruits, grains, and even fresh baked bread and pizza! Of course, you’ll be making them all from scratch — learning to cook backcountry gourmet on the trail.
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12 Day TEEN LEADERSHIP EXPEDITION
Hiking through the Pisgah National Forest with NCOAE while learning about Leave No Trace (LNT), wilderness travel and myself, all gave me a new appreciation for the wilderness and a growing passion for environmental conservation. My experience has changed my outlook on life and influenced my focus of study in college. Because of the NC Teen Adventure and NCOAE, I have decided to major in Environmental Studies at UNC Asheville. As my passion for the wilderness continues to grow I will be enrolling in more courses with NCOAE and maybe even apply someday to be an instructor.
Participating in an NCOAE course has been one of the greatest experiences of my life!
It helped me to grow emotionally and taught me skills that I am able to transfer into my everyday life. I am truly grateful and lucky to have been a part of this program