What do youth say about youth winter adventures?
What do group leaders and teachers say about youth winter adventures?
|“Excellent and well-rounded activities for all interests and learning styles”||“wonderful immersive experience”||“Fun & informative adventure, exploring the Mount St. Helens environment & history.”||“An experience not to miss”||“Staff interacted with participants non-judgmentally, incorporated cultural information about the land & history, advised to self advocate to do things at our own pace and comfort.”|
Youth winter adventures immerse youth in the winter forests and lava features of Mount St. Helens. Together we explore the way that volcanic landscapes change over time and the phenomena of lava tube caves. These trips support social emotional learning, team building and group bonding.
Who? Youth serving organizations, school groups and family groups.
When? Weekends and weekdays February through April.
Where? Youth winter adventures meet in Cougar, Washington and drive to the Ape Cave Sno Park at the Trail of Two Forests. From there, we hike along the ~1.5-mile paved road that leads to the entrance of Ape Cave. During the winter season, this road is unplowed and is a gradual uphill hike. Conditions determine whether or not we are able to enter the cave.
Hiking in the snow in the winter season is more physically demanding than other times of year. The hike leading to Ape Cave follows a paved road that is often covered in snow. Our trips often include hiking off-trail in the forest surrounding the road. If time and conditions allow a group to go into Ape Cave, we always only explore the lower section of Ape Cave which does not require any climbing or scrambling over boulders.The maximum distance we travel in Ape Cave is less than 1 mile.
Since 2019, the Mount St. Helens Institute has worked to expand and increase opportunities for outdoor youth education programs in the winter season. We provide gear, information about the route, conditions, risk management, USFS special-use permit access into Ape Cave (closed to the public during the winter season), an interpretive educator, and volunteers for additional support.
Field trips to Mount St. Helens are memorable for so many reasons: in part, because volcanoes have stories to tell. In the landscape surrounding the ~8000’ Mount St. Helens, features such as the topography, soil, age and type of plants and the location of lakes are often clues telling stories of past eruptions. The stories echo themes of change, unpredictability, scale, resilience, surprise. These stories expand our understanding of natural phenomena and encourage us to reflect on our own relationship to change.
Complete our non-binding inquiry form to let us know you are interested and to provide information about your group.
What do I need to bring?
Interested in field trips during the months of May through October? Visit our Volcano Outdoor School page for more information.