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Frequently Asked Questions & General Information

Where and when do the expeditions begin?

All expeditions begin in Seattle at our base camp located at The Y’s Cascade People’s Center, 309 Pontius Ave N, Seattle, WA 98109
(206) 659-0231
 Y @ Cascade People’s Center

Participants should arrive by 8:45 AM on the first day of their expedition. Check-in opens at 8:30 AM. The expeditions begin at 9:00 AM with an opening circle for participants and their families.

Who are the expedition instructors?

Our instructors are experienced outdoor educators with an extensive background of working with youth in the outdoors. All instructors are also trained in Wilderness Medicine. Each instructor team consists of at least one Wilderness First Responder with the supporting instructors holding certifications in Wilderness First Aid.

How many students are on each expedition?

Generally there are 9 students per expedition. Some may have up to 12. The student to instructor ratio is 3:1 or 4:1.

Where will I sleep?

We provide light weight pyramid-shaped tents and tarp shelters depending on the activity. There are typically 3–4 students in each shelter. You will use a ground tarp, sleeping pads, warm sleeping bags, and you’ll learn how to make a pillow out of your clothes! And don’t worry, the instructors will be sleeping in their tents close by.

What will I eat?

We love good food! Eating well is really important to all of us that work here, and you can expect lots of lessons on cooking and opportunity to show your skill in the kitchen on any trip you do. The menu is largely vegetarian and 30% organic, with lots of grains, pasta, cheese, beans, veggies, fruit, and nuts. Meat is heavy and spoils easily, but we do occasionally eat tuna and chicken. To prepare, we suggest that you cut down on soft drinks, caffeine and junk food. Start eating well-balanced meals and drink plenty of water.

Here is a typical menu:

Breakfast: oatmeal with brown sugar and fruit or bagels and cream cheese; hot drink
Lunch: Tuna, cheese, crackers, pita bread, peanut butter and jelly, bagels
Dinner: rice and beans, salsa, tortillas, cheese; pasta dish; or macaroni and cheese
Snacks: “GORP” (good old raisins & peanuts); granola bars; fruit

You will be given a supply of sweet and salty trail mix, “GORP” to eat whenever you get hungry. It usually contains M & M’s, a variety of nuts, rice crackers and raisins. In addition to your personal GORP, there are two group snacks a day such as peanut butter pretzels or rice crackers and dried fruit.

What about drinking water?  How do you purify it?

On our backcountry courses we will purify our drinking water using a chemical method and we boil water used for cooking.  We generally do not use filtration systems as it would take a very long time to filter enough water for a group our size and there is the possibility of system failure, however in some course areas we do provide filtration systems along with an alternative method. Your instructors will teach you how to properly treat your water before drinking.

Can you accommodate my food allergy or special diet?

Yes! We can easily accommodate vegetarians and vegans as well as students with certain food allergies. If you have any special dietary restrictions (nut allergies, lactose intolerance, wheat allergy, etc.) please list it on your health form so we can accommodate your specific needs.

What happens with my prescription medications while on expedition?

All prescription medications must be noted on your medical form prior to the expedition. Medication use is overseen by instructors. Please bring your prescription medications and non-prescription medications in separate, labeled, non-breakable, waterproof containers (Ziploc bags are great!). Students with prescription inhalers and epinephrine injections must bring two sets of medication. The instructor will carry one, and the participant will carry one in case of emergency. Students who would suffer severe consequences if they were to miss a dose of medication due to damage or loss should bring back-up doses of that medication.

Should I bring contacts or glasses with me?

Either glasses or contact lenses are acceptable on expedition. However, sterile lens care is difficult on the trail and their use is not encouraged. Whether you wear contacts or glasses, you should think about bringing an extra pair.

What gear do I need?

We can supply you with all necessary equipment. In the past BOLD & GOLD have loaned all necessary gear for each trip. This summer 2013 we will begin renting expedition essentials, in the form of a “Basic Gear Package”, which will include an internal frame backpack, sleeping bag and closed cell foam sleeping pad, medium weight hiking boots and a headlamp. If your child is only in need of a few of those items we can rent them seperate from the Basic Gear Package. You can view the gear rental form, as a part of your Admissions Packet. We will continue to loan all other necessary items, such as clothing, for each expedition.

To find out what you need to bring on your trip, check the packing list for your trip. We offer several different types of expeditions including rock climbing, beach camping, and alpine mountaineering, and it is important to use the correct packing list.

If you already own some equipment and would prefer to use it for your expedition, make sure that it is already on the packing list. Your instructor will inspect any personal equipment at the beginning of your expedition, and if it does not meet the standards of the course, you can store it in a locker at the Seattle base camp during your expedition. 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 (except cameras); weapons, including camping knives and hatchets; fireworks; tobacco products; illegal drugs; and alcohol at home.

If you have a specific question about what gear is appropriate for your course, contact our admissions team at mcadmissions@seattleymca.org or by calling 206.587.6119

Can I bring a camera?

Please do! Photography is a big aspect of all our programs. Bring a good case however, because our expeditions are rigorous and you run the risk of losing or damaging your camera. This rarely happens, but the possibility does exist. You might want to consider purchasing a waterproof bag or box for your camera, film, batteries and memory cards. A Ziploc bag works well too. If you are worried, play it safe and bring a disposable waterproof camera!

What about iPods, MP3 Players, Cell Phones, E-Readers, iPads, Hand-held Video Games, GPS Devices and CD Players?

Due to the wet and gritty nature of the places we travel only watches, small flashlights, headlamps and cameras are allowed.  All other electronic devices should be left at home. Mountains and electronics just don’t get along.

Will I be able to take a shower?

On rock climbing trips you may be able to take a shower and on backpacking trips you can choose to take “pioneer showers” which involve bathing in a stream or lake. Your instructors will demonstrate bathing options when appropriate, and explain more about hygiene upon your arrival.

What about privacy?

Privacy takes a new meaning when you are sharing a tent with three other people. Although you will be in close quarters for most of the time efforts will be made to provide privacy for changing clothes, etc.

How do I go to the bathroom?

On the climbing courses, nearly every campground will have a toilet with toilet paper for all your bathroom needs. On the backpacking courses, camp sites will have pit latrenes near by. Students will learn the sophisticated art of Leave No Trace pooping and staying clean and hygienic in the backcountry.

Will I be able to keep in touch with family and friends?

Our expeditions are wilderness based, so communication with the outside world is either by satellite phone or smoke signal…just kidding! On a serious note, however, your instructors will have satellite phones for emergencies. They will also 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 three, but the satellite phone is for instructors only.

How do we get around?

All of our adventures travel by mini-bus to their destinations. On backpacking expeditions you will be dropped off at a trail head; for some base camp adventures you will have a mini bus with you to travel to hiking and/or climbing destinations.

How challenging are the trips?

One week expeditions are introductory and are appropriate for students who have never been on this type of adventure before. Two week and three week expeditions are more challenging. Students 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, 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 can help but is not required. Come prepared to meet new people, try new things, have fun and challenge yourself. You will make mistakes, but you will learn from them and go on to meet challenges, both individually and as a group.

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

It depends on your course. Beginner level backpacking expeditions may travel 3 to 5 miles each day. More advance courses may travel up to 10 miles per day. Your size and ability to carry the weight of the backpack is taken into consideration. Backpacks may weigh up to 45% of your body weight.

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

On backpacking expeditions you will carry all of your personal belongings as well as some of the group gear and food. For rock climbing expeditions, you will only carry a daypack for your climbing gear, warm layers, water & food for the day. Your personal belongings will be kept in your duffle or backpack back at camp.

Are there additional costs?

The only additional costs for your trip are for personal gear rentals. Please see question “What gear do I need?”

Should I bring spending money?

Money is not needed and strongly discouraged.

Do you offer financial aid?

Yes, BOLD & GOLD are committed to removing barriers to our experiences. Need based financial aid is available for all of our expeditions and programs. If you would like to apply for financial aid, please complete the financial aid application. Funds are limited and are awarded on a rolling basis until exhausted.  Payment plans are also available to families who require them.

What is your refund policy?

In general, tuition fees are non-refundable. For summer programming, certain deadlines apply – please see our payment and refund policy. For school year programming we are unable to pro-rate fees for missed sessions.

Wait! I have more questions!

Contact our admissions team at mcadmissions@seattleymca.org or call 206.587.6119