Opal Creek Expeditions

Program highlights | Orientation meetings | Scholarships | Expeditions calendar

Confident. Empowered. Inspired.

A week in the wilderness will transform your child. Our small-group expeditions in the Opal Creek, Bull of the Woods, and Mt. Jefferson Wildernesses give campers the skills and autonomy to become outdoor leaders. Our unique model combines backpacking skills with observational science, giving your child hands-on experience with camp cooking and first-aid, plant identification and compass navigation, and more.

Opal Creek Expeditions follow Leave No Trace principles and maintain a student-to-staff ratio of 5:1. Our instructors are Wilderness First Responder-certified and trained to handle backcountry medical emergencies. We operate under a special use permit with the Mt. Hood and Willamette National Forests.

See this year’s expeditions calendar here.

Program highlights

Opal Creek Expeditions provide summer opportunities for youth from ages 8-18:

Our youngest campers get introduced to the ancient forest through our Junior Basecamp and Jawbone Flats Basecamp. Perfect for a first overnight camp experience, or for a child who’s just not ready to backpack, our basecamp programs will let your child unplug and soak up the great outdoors.

Backcountry Basics is the ideal first backpacking trip for a 10-12 year old. Campers will experience the magic of the remote wilderness while learning what it takes to be a successful backcountry traveler, all in a respectful and supportive environment.

We are thrilled to partner with eNRG Kayaking and High Country Expeditions to offer half-day rafting trips on the Santiam and McKenzie Rivers on the final days of River Deep, Mountain High, Ridgelines & Waterways, and Going Glacial.

Our Extended Expeditions for older campers provide unparalleled opportunities to grow as an outdoor leader. Campers will practice advanced wilderness skills and push themselves farther as they venture deeper into the Oregon wilderness than any other expedition.

Orientation meetings

Each spring we host orientation meetings for parents and backpackers to meet with our program director.  We strongly encourage everyone interested in an Opal Creek Expedition to attend one of these meetings, especially first-time backpackers.  We will discuss proper gear and backpack sizing; review the camp itineraries and hiking routes; and address any questions or concerns you may have.

Scheduling for 2018 orientation meetings will be announced in early 2018.

Please call the Portland office at 503-892-2782 with any questions about these meetings.


We offer full scholarships to youth whose families receive some form of social assistance (social security, SNAP, Free and Reduced Lunch, etc.). Parents or guardians are responsible for arranging transportation to and from the trailhead, and for providing basic personal gear. Thanks to the generosity of Columbia Sportswear we are able to provide scholarship families with a discount pass to the Columbia Employee Store. There are a limited number of scholarship spots available on each trip; please have a second choice in mind.

To apply, please review the following information packet (PDF), fill out a scholarship application, and return to us by email or mail at 721 NW 9th Avenue, Suite 236, Portland, OR 97209.

  • The 2017 scholarship program is closed. Please check back in December 2017 for 2018 opportunities.