Over the summer, youth from LAYN’s Transitional Living Program (TLP) embarked on a three-day, two-night backpacking trip to Santa Cruz Island, one of the eight Channel Islands, off the Ventura Harbor in Southern California. The purpose of the trip was to strengthen life skills, and practice team building as well as leadership skills through a wilderness experience. 

In its second year, this highly anticipated youth outing was led by TLP house mentor, Wes Siler and LAYN’s program staff. A contributor to  Outside Magazine,  Wes is a wilderness, camping and survival expert. He volunteers his time coordinating activities like indoor rock climbing, hiking, and camping with the TLP youth. 

Last year, our youth took a beginner trip, car camping, to  Nira Campground, in the San Rafael Wilderness. You can read about our first camping experience,  here

After that trip, youth convinced staff and Wes, they were ready for the “real deal“. 

To prepare for this year’s camping experience, youth took on leadership roles organizing, scheduling, and planning for the journey. They selected a remote island, about a 2-hour drive along the Ventura Harbor, and a 1-hour ferry ride into the Pacific Ocean. 

Backpacking the final hour into to the camp ground, youth spent four days remote, where they set up and broke down camp tents, completed restoration projects with park rangers, hiked, gardened, cooked, and learned about the islands many plants and animals. 

This was the first time many of our youth spent time camping and learning outdoor survival skills, thanks in part to Wes and the generous donations made by  HWM Outdoors and Outside Magazine readers.

Taking this trip annually, including camping gear, for incoming youth, can be expensive. If you’d like to donate camping items to the Los Angeles Youth Network, contact Raynetta Smith, development and communications manager, at  rsmith@layn.org or (323) 467-8466.