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Get Ready for Youth Volunteer Vacations This Summer

Posted by Jessi Loerch at Mar 29, 2023 12:10 PM |
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This summer, youth ages 14-18 can join us on trail for extended volunteer work parties, either in the backcountry or car-camping trips. Here's what you need to know before applications open up on April 3.

“The last trip I went on with Kaci was a life-changing experience. Never before, in my near-decade experience with summer camps and trips, have I felt so accepted and welcomed, never have I felt more in control of myself and more in my element. I had never been with a group of peers and leaders so caring and understanding. This trip changed my entire mindset about summer activities with people my age.”
— Teen volunteer, WTA 2021 LGBTQ+ crew at Mount Rainier

Teenage volunteers walk away from the camera on a trail with Mount Rainier in the background.Teen volunteers enjoy a sunny walk to their project site. Photo by Kesia Lee.

For the past few months, WTA staff have been eagerly planning for summer trips with teen volunteers. After lots of collaboration with our land management partners, we’re finally ready to show you all the cool places we’re headed to in July and August — including into the backcountry! Beginning April 3, you’ll be able to view the 2023 youth volunteer vacation trips, where youth ages 14-18 build trails and community together in beautiful places across Washington state. 

WTA believes everyone should have access to Washington’s trails and feel represented and included in the hiking community. Here are some highlights of what we have planned this summer:

  • Full scholarships are available if cost is a barrier. Scholarships include all your food for the trip and camping gear to borrow.
  • Two shared-identity trips at Mount Rainier: the all girls and LGBTQ+ crews. 
  • Six frontcountry, or car-camp style, trips 
  • Four backcountry trips, where teens will hike their personal gear to a more remote campsite for the week. Prior camping and trail work experience is required for some backcountry trips. 
  • Teens and their guardians will have an opportunity to attend a pre-trip crew meeting via Zoom to meet the other members of their crew and ask questions about their trip. 
  • Teens can earn up to 56 service hours in a single trip!

Two teens wearing green hard hats laugh together while a third teen puts on a hard hat.
Be safe, have FUN, and get some work done. Photo by Kesia Lee.

As in previous years, WTA will host a multi-week priority application period, April 3-16, during which all applications for youth volunteer vacations will be given equal consideration. After April 16, all applications will be considered on a rolling basis, reviewed in the order they are received. When making trip placements, WTA staff work hard to build multicultural, gender-diverse crews where youth of diverse identities and backgrounds feel welcome, affirmed and included. Check out the youth volunteer vacations webpage for a step-by-step guide on how to apply after April 3.

Unfortunately, based on past trends, we expect that demand for the program will far exceed the number of program spots available. To begin, we’ll be limiting each teen to one trip and are unable to guarantee that teens will be placed on a trip with a requested friend or family member. We're also preparing for the reality that not every youth who applies  will be placed on a trip this year, and that we may need to use a lottery system even for priority period applicants. In light of this, we're planning to offer youth day work parties in the Puget Sound region this summer so that more youth can spend time on trail with us and their peers, while building trail and community — and earning service hours! 

Have questions? Join us at our live Q&A session on Wednesday, April 12 from 6-7pm PST. WTA’s  youth trail program manager, rza allen, will give a brief overview of the application process for 2023 and answer any questions you may have. Register online for the Q&A, and the Zoom link will be sent to you the day of the session. 

If you’re unable to attend one of the Q&A sessions, you can reach out to rza via email,, or phone 206-678-2025.

A teen wearing a green hard hat use a level on a trail structure.
Tools of the trade. Photo by Kesia Lee.