Camp Echo’s Adventure Trips are an experience unlike any other: kayaking among Lake Huron’s thousands of islands, backpacking through spectacular Porcupine Mountains of Michigan’s Upper Peninsula, and the list goes on… Camp Echo’s Adventure trips take the fun, community, and growth opportunities (self-confidence, group living, leadership, and technical outdoor skills) of summer camp on the road and expose participants to a whole new world of experiences.
Click below to learn more about Camp Echo’s Adventure Trip opportunities:
During this one week trip, campers will travel to Leland, MI and take a ferry to South Manitou. Once on the island, the group will establish a base camp from which they will spend time day hiking for the next few days.
South Manitou is part of the Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore and offers beautiful beaches and interesting views – such as a historic lighthouse and a visible off shore shipwreck.
Note: Mini-Blazers is single-gender, with boy-Identifying and girl-Identifying campers participating in separate sections. Campers are free to choose to go on whichever section they identify with or where they would feel more comfortable
Trailblazer groups spend three days canoeing under a canopy of trees on the Big Manistee River and camping on the river bank. They also spend four to five days hiking on historic North Manitou Island in Lake Michigan where wildflowers, fresh air, and starry nights abound. Between paddling and hiking, participants enjoy a layover day spent relaxing, swimming, and cooking delicious meals. Trailblazers return to Echo on the second Thursday of the session, and spend their final day celebrating their accomplishments.
Note: Trailblazers trips are single-gender, with boy-Identifying and girl-Identifying participating in separate sessions or sections.Campers are free to choose to go on whichever section they identify with or where they would feel more comfortable
Campers arrive to Echo on the first day and dive right into learning the basics of backpacking. They will go over how to pack, fitting boots, and pack out food and gear from our trip center as well as going on a practice hike with loaded packs. After fully preparing the group sets out on their adventure.
The group will spend their backcountry hiking and camping along Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore. Participants and guides alike have expressed strong desire to spend more time at Pictured Rocks in previous years and have determined that we can enhance the quality of the trip with this change!
Campers will hike approximately 4-6 miles a day, camping at established campsites along the trail. On the second Thursday of their session, the group will return to Camp Echo to wrap up a final evening of cleaning up and celebration. Campers return home on the buses to the McGaw YMCA on the final Friday of the session.
Note: Superior Backpacking is single-gender, with boy-Identifying and girl-Identifying participating in separate sessions or sections.Campers are free to choose to go on whichever section they identify with or where they would feel more comfortable
Campers arrive to Echo on the first day and begin learning the basics of canoeing. They will learn about canoes and the strokes needed for success, as well as pack out food and gear from our trip center. After fully preparing the group sets out on their adventure.
The group will venture to the Upper Peninsula of Michigan for a multi-river canoe adventure on the Manistique and Indian Rivers. Campers will hone their canoeing skills and work together to navigate the rivers as they flow south towards Lake Michigan. Each night of camping will be on the shores of the rivers, a refreshing and peaceful way to end the day. The group will combine their paddle experience with visits to nearby popular Upper Peninsula destinations such as the Seney National Wildlife Refugee or Kitch-iti-kipi springs.
Note: Upper Peninsula Paddleventures is a single-gender trip, with boy-identifying and girl-identifying campers participating in separate sessions or sections. Campers are free to choose to go on whichever section they identify with or where they would feel most comfortable.
When campers arrive to Echo on the first day, they begin by reviewing backpacking skills– packing a multiday pack, hiking with loaded packs, fitting boots, and packing out food and gear from our trip center. After fully preparing the group leaves camp on their journey to Porcupine Mountain State park in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula.
The group will be on trail for the next 8 days, hiking approximately 6-8 miles per day. There is something for everyone on this trip – the breathtaking coastline of Lake Superior, countless waterfalls, and acres of shady forests. Participants build confidence and strength as hikers while enjoying the beautiful landscapes and lots of group fun throughout the trip. On the second Thursday of their session, the group heads back to Camp Echo for a final evening of cleaning up and celebration. Campers return home on the buses to the McGaw YMCA on the final Friday of the session.
Campers on Minnesota Canoe spend eight days paddling and portaging through the Boundary Waters on the border of Minnesota of Canada, an environmentally protected watershed composed of over 1,000 lakes. Participants spend a day on camp packing out of Echo’s trip center and getting prepared for their adventure. Once ready to go, the group will make its way to Northern Minnesota, where they begin paddling the first Wednesday of their session.
The next 8 days are spent “on trail.” By day, participants experience the beauty of waterfalls, rock cliffs, and abundant wildlife including bald eagles and moose. At night, the group enjoys incredible sunsets, dinner around a campfire, and falling asleep beneath a blanket of stars. On the second Thursday of their session, participants bid farewell to the Boundary Waters and begin their drive home. On the final Friday of their session, the group returns to the McGaw YMCA in the late morning where a parent or guardian will need to meet them for pickups.
On the first Wednesday of the session, the group spends a day with the professional staff at White Squall Paddling Center in Parry Sound, ON, where they learn about paddling technique, water safety, and weather identification. On Thursday, everyone sets out for a week of kayaking through the crystal blue waters of Lake Huron. Days on the Bay are spent paddling, swimming, and scouting out jumping rocks. In the evenings, the group pulls off the water to camp on the picturesque islands that dot the Bay. On the second Wednesday of the session, the group paddles back to shore and heads back to Camp Echo for a final day of cleanup and celebration. Participants take the buses back to the McGaw YMCA on the final Friday of the session.
On Wednesday, participants enjoy a day of challenging rock climbing in Estes Park. The following day, everyone embarks on an eight-day backpacking adventure in Colorado State Park. Groups explore pristine lakes, endless fields of wild flowers, undiscovered patches of snow, and attempt to summit a 13,000 foot peak. The adventure ends in Boulder for a chance to clean up and celebrate before flying back to Midway Airport in Chicago on the final Friday of the session. A parent or guardian will need to meet the group at the terminal for pickups.
The Adventurers goal is to promote confidence in leadership of wilderness trips. This goal is achieved through development of technical camping skills, more exposure to the behind-the-scenes planning that is required to run a trip, and various service opportunities. In order to achieve these outcomes, the Adventurers program is three weeks comprised of an extended wilderness component to spectacular adventure destinations and more time on camp.
During their time on camp, Adventurers will take a deep dive into the essential trip skills. Adventurers will learn about proper pre-trip equipment checks, the permitting and reservation processes for their itinerary, food rationing, team-building, and other critical trip planning skills. To full review and practice these skills, the Adventurers will have 3-4 full days on camp before departing on their trip (opposed to the 1-2 days of two-week trips). As they are learning these skills they will get to see them in action first hand in our Trip Center as the other groups prepare for their own excursions. Upon return to camp, Adventurers will have additional days on-site to complete end of trip clean-up, de-brief the trip individually and as a group, and share their learnings with others. By the end of the program, participants will have the tool to plan an adventure of their own!
The Adventurers program has two separate destinations, which must be selected in advance:
ISLE ROYALE: Enjoy one of our nation’s most underrated national parks, viewing exceptional wildlife, such as abundant moose, and expansive vistas of Lake Superior while backpacking as a group through the trail system on the island. This destination offers the peace and serenity that only a wilderness island can provide. Isle Royale is reached via a combination of ferries and van travel across Lake Michigan, Lake Superior, and most of Michigan’s Upper Peninsula – it is truly the pinnacle of adventure in the Midwest!
GEORGIAN BAY: For decades, the Georgian Bay has been one of Camp Echo’s most popular destinations. Thousands of small islands nestled on the eastern shore of Lake Huron are the destination for this sea kayaking trip. Adventurers will explore similar territory as the two-week Georgian Bay Sea Kayaking trip, but with the more time to explore the vast network of islands. Whether you have been to the Georgian Bay before or this is the first time, it is sure to be full of surprises!
Campers will arrive at camp and pack out their gear from the Camp Echo trip center. From Echo, they will travel to Grand Rapids and fly to Seattle International Airport. They will then spend approximately 8 days hiking through the hiking trails surrounding Ross Lake. The group will be hiking up to 10 miles per day in challenging terrain.
This trip features portions of steep terrain and challenging climate, offering a chance for participants to have a unique mountain hiking experience. They will build on existing skills and hone trip skills in a new environment; participants will continue to learn leadership skills while bonding in their group.
Click on the slides below for more information related to leadership, safety, and physical preparedness for adventure trips!
All participants entering tenth grade or higher will receive a camper letter, which is a letter from the counselor written directly to the camper (as opposed to a parent letter). This letter highlights the camper’s strengths as well as opportunities for growth to help teen participants when they later apply to work on staff. We believe this process of evaluative feedback provides a growth opportunity for teen program participants.
Trip Guides play a key role in the success of our program. All of our guides have been hired for their experience working with youth as well as their specific skills and knowledge of adventure travel. All of our Adventure Trips have at least two staff members. At least one, though often both, members are certified as a Wilderness First Responder and Lifeguard. These guides receive extensive training on camp and in wilderness settings so that they can support all of their groups’ needs, from physical wilderness first aid to providing mental emotional social health support.
Trips are physically and mentally challenging. A challenge well worth it, but does require some preparation to be successful. We encourage Adventure Trip participants to establish a home regimen for building strength and endurance and to be as successful in the new environment as possible. Another option is to sign up for physical conditioning classes at their local YMCA.