Trip Planning for School/Youth Groups

Start planning your next Land or River Outdoor Education Adventure with CFI

Plan early! We suggest you begin planning for your group 6 to 8 months in advance and no less than 2 months in advance. This will assure that we can create the best program for your group with dates and locations you desire. CFI takes pride in helping you select a School or Youth Program that best suits your group size, educational goals, time frame, and budget.

Call CFI to discuss the best options for your group. We are here to assist you!

Below is information you'll need to begin planning your school’s program.

1. Planning

We are here to assist you with the planning process, and this checklist will help you get started.

Preliminary Planning

  1. Look through our program options. From the program lengths and descriptions, you'll get an idea of what might work well for your group. 
  2. Estimate your group’s size. You can refer to our School Program descriptions for group size limits on all trips.
  3. Decide on a range of preferred dates. Some dates fill early. Many stretches of river have limited launch dates and public lands have seasonal use limits.
  4. Determine your overall budget. This should include program cost, your travel costs, and chaperone fees.

Program Selection 

  1. Select a river or land program. CFI can help you fulfill your teaching goals specific to your age group needs.
  2. Carefully read about Deposits and Payments in the next section below.
  3. Decide on one program or more and review your choices with parents and school administration. We will provide information on permits, risk management program, sample registration/risk forms, insurance, and references.

    Please note: CFI chooses to operate on nature’s terms, “unplugged” in the backcountry, without cell phones or other electronic devices. We offer traditional wilderness experiences and rely on preparedness, training, backcountry skills, and wise leadership.
Be sure to have your administration’s approval prior to confirming your reservation.

First Payment

  1. Confirm your program with CFI. We will send you an invoice for the non-refundable deposit by email, fax, or mail. Please respond with a deposit payment by credit card within 10 days. We gladly accept Visa, MasterCard, American Express and Discover.

Program Details and Logistics

  1. Make your transportation plans to our area. Be sure you know exact dates for travel to match with your CFI program.
  2. CFI will send you a program brochure, gear list, behavioral guidelines, and registration and risk forms for all teachers, students, and chaperones attending the program. These are for parents information as well. Your packet will also contain curriculum objectives, program schedule, and a map to our area.
  3. On your contract, note due dates for final numbers of participants and for payments. Timely receipt of payments is required and a final number of participants is necessary for planning.

Get Your Students and Families Involved

  1. Start preparing your students for their Land or River Education adventure. Get them excited to come, and tie curriculum to your destination.
  2. Schedule a pre-trip meeting with parents and students, review clothing and gear lists and practice setting up your tents if you are bringing your own.

Get to know one of your Guides

A CFI naturalist-guide that will be with your group in the field will contact you several weeks prior to your trip by email or phone to firm up details, discuss any student health, diet or behavioral concerns, and work with you to insure your students to have a safe, fun, and “transformative” field trip experience.

2. Deposits and Payments

Timely deposits and payments will ensure a smooth planning process for your school trip. The following outlines the deposit and payment cycle:

  • To secure your reservation for a trip within next 12 months, we request a non-refundable deposit equal to 5 student fees
  • Once you decide on a program, we will send out an invoice and must receive a deposit payment by credit card within 10 days (Visa, Master Card, American Express or Discover).
  • For reservations more than 1 year out, we ask for 1 student fee, with an additional deposit of 4 student fees 6 months prior.
  • Upon receipt of your deposit, we send a contract, program materials, and forms.
  • Final payments & forms due 14 days prior, if not late fees apply.

For reservations made less than 60 days, we request final numbers at the time of reservation. Payment may be made by credit card or check and are due within 10 days of invoicing to secure the reservation.

3. Adult Fees and Policies

Teacher and chaperone fees, discounts, and numbers policy is outlined below:

  • ONE complimentary (free) adult per group with the minimum of 15 students met and SECOND adult at HALF fee; all other adults pay full fee no matter group size.
  • BLM special use fees still apply to all adults.
  • No more than six adults with each school group.
  • On land programs, we require 1 chaperone per 12 students
  • On river programs, we requireat least 2 chaperones per group.
4. Discounts

CFI offers several discounts for School and Youth Programs.

Early Bird Discount

To encourage early commitments that aid our staffing and support planning, CFI is pleased to offer to ALL schools, colleges and youth groups Early bird discounts: 

One participant free

  • When deposit for a spring reservation is paid by October 15 or
  • When deposit for a fall reservation is paid by May 15 

To secure the dates that you want and to obtain our Early Bird Discount, we encourage you to act soon as our calendar fills quickly, especially for May and September of each year.

Chaperone Discount

For groups of 15 students or more, one chaperone is free and a second is half-price. See Adult Fees and Policies.

5. Scholarships

CFI Offers Scholarships for School and Youth Programs and Summer Camps.

School Scholarships

Additional scholarship/discount is available to K-12 public schools and Indian Reservation Charter Schools.

Please start your application by completing:

Scholarship Application for Public Schools  (pdf).

There is a scholarship fund developed each year through annual fund giving at CFI and thus a cap exists on the total amount that can be awarded for this school year; so please apply early! The awards are based on the percent of the school's student body enrolled in the Federal Free & Reduced Lunch (FRL) program (not just students on this field trip).

The scholarship/discount will be as follows:

  • If 5-25.9% FRL, then CFI regular school trip  fees will be discounted 10%
  • If 26-50.9% FRL, then 15% discount
  • If 51% or more, then 20% discount.
  • You are asked to provide documentation of the FRL rate on your scholarship application.

Summer Camp Scholarships

Scholarship assistance is available for our summer camps. Please contact CFI for more information and we will send you a form.

6. Transportation

Our school programs vary so please check each type of trip as to what type of transportation is included. Additional bus services can be hired with notice.

You arrange transportation to our camp or river launch site or trail head. CFI fees listed for multiday river trips cover shuttle of two school vehicles or a hired bus to transport your entire group back to the launch point. Additional school vehicles can be shuttled for $100/vehicle. For DAY river trips near Moab, CFI works with your drivers to shuttle all vehicles, included in fee.

See Shuttle Service Info for more details.

For your own travel planning, see School Travel Information, and the Moab Travel Council pages for camping, accommodations and transportation. Furthermore, if you plan on camping before or after your trip BLM group sites are now available up to one year in advance. 

7. Cancellation

Our general cancellation policy is outlined here but each school contract will have a cancellation clause tailored to meet the specifics of that trip.

Cancellation policies are applicable to All CFI School/Youth Programs

CFI has developed the following policies based on the nature of our business. Please note that we base our operations on your reservations and pay for services accordingly. Please take your reservation seriously. Since we work with small participant groups, secure services in small, rural towns, and schedule our staff, equipment, and food purchasing far in advance, we have a limited number of seats and dates. Please make every effort to give accurate numbers for your program, and arrive for the program on-time once you have registered.

Notify us of cancellation in writing by mail, fax, or email AND also, please phone the CFI Office to cancel; we check our answering machine regularly when the office is closed. Please note that our staff does not carry cell or satellite phones and cannot be reached during a trip. If you cancel, any gear rental fees paid to CFI are non-refundable and non-transferable.

CFI reserves the right, in its sole discretion, to alter the itinerary or location or even cancel a trip, for reasons including but not limited to weather, water fluctuations, insufficient reservations, and other factors. If CFI cancels a program, your money will be refunded. If CFI alters a program, your money will be refunded if you choose not to attend the altered program. However, CFI is only responsible for the actual amount paid by you directly to us and is not responsible for any other costs incurred by you, in relation to a program that is altered or cancelled. Please see section 8 below on Travel Insurance.


8. Travel Insurance

CFI highly recommends that participants purchase travel and flight insurance coverage to protect your program fee, airline and other trip costs. CFI is a licensed provider of TravelGuard Insurance, see the enclosed brochure, you will find more information at You may purchase this protection from CFI or inquire with your travel agent or other internet travel services. Please protect your trip at the time you pay your first reservation deposit. 


9. Larger School or Youth Groups

Our public lands and river permits limit group size for our locations;.

If you have a group of over 60 students for our Professor Valley Field Camp programs or over 25 participants for river programs, please inquire how CFI can accommodate you through simultaneous trips in different locations, sequential programs, or simultaneous programs. Our Cisco to Professor Valley 2 Night Colorado River Program can accommodation groups up to 45.

Call us: 800-860-5262


10. Registration Materials

Upon receipt of your deposit, CFI will send an email with the following attached materials:

  • Program outlines
  • Parent Brochure which includes "What to bring list" (Gear List)
  • Maps
  • Chaperone information
  • Link to your school's online registration page

We request final numbers 30 days prior to assist our staffing and supply requisitions.

You can review our SCHOOL student/chaperone registration and assumption of risk forms with your parents or school administration: 

School Registration Form   (pdf)

School Risk Form   (pdf)

School Travel Information   (pdf)

Parent Brochure   (pdf)

11. Health and Dietary Issues

If a participant has an adventurous spirit and reasonably good health, he or she will be able to enjoy any of our programs. All teachers, chaperones, and students should respond fully and honestly to our medical questions on your registration form. However, please understand that although CFI will review participant’s information and may allow participation, it is a participant’s or parent’s (and in addition, in the case of school groups, school group personnel’s) responsibility to consider carefully, in conjunction with participant’s physician, whether a CFI program is an appropriate match for the participant, considering participant’s mental, physical and emotional condition – and fitness level. 

Note: We are often several hours away from medical facilities on our trips (and can be many hours away on multi-day trips). Participants need to bring a good supply of all medications and pack them with good protection.

While we are not able to offer, nor promise fully customized meal plans for individuals in a group, we will try to accommodate special dietary needs and restrictions where practical. In some cases, individuals may be required to bring some of their own supplementary food. CFI can now cater to vegetarian, vegan, dairy free, gluten free, halal/kosher, etc., and will consider other dietary requests. This information needs to be provided during individual registration of students. 

CFI will review student/adult dietary restrictions and food allergies prior to the trip. Due to the remote location of field camp and outfitting conditions, CFI reserves the right to restrict enrollment to any student/adult. 


12. Behavior Standards

Rules have been set for the safety and well-being of all participants. We adhere strictly to the following rules and require that students:

  • Do not bring cigarettes or tobacco of any kind
  • Do not bring drugs of any kind unless under a doctor’s prescription (School leaders need to be responsible for storage and distribution of all student medications.)
  • Do not bring alcoholic beverages of any kind
  • Do not bring knives, sharp tools, or firearms
  • Do not involve themselves in any sexual activities
  • Do not perform an act of theft or vandalism
  • Do not remain in the company of another student who violates these rules and then fail to report it
  • Do not refuse to follow any reasonable directive from an instructor.

We maintain a zero tolerance policy for those who break the rules: parent and/or guardian and school administrator will be notified and the participant will be removed from the program as soon as possible, and at the expense of the parent/guardian.

CFI instructional staff may base their determination that an infraction has occurred on evidence that was reported to them but not directly observed by them, or on the behavior that results from the infraction.

In addition:

CFI operates facilities and trips as smoke free environments in all buildings, boats, vehicles and common areas in campsites. No alcohol is allowed on school trips including college trips. 

On all CFI trips, we provide the chance to be “unplugged” from society, to experience the wilderness on its own terms, and to encourage enjoyment of natural sounds and quiet. We request NO electronic devices such as radios, CD players, cell phones etc. The exception to this is photographic and video equipment.

EQUAL OPPORTUNITY: CFI provides equal opportunities to all, and does not discriminate on the basis of race, color, gender, religion, national or ethnic origin, sexual orientation, age, or disability.

Or call us today: 800-860-5262. We’ll make it 
as easy as possible!

Relax, and know that CFI will have terrific instructors, great food, and smooth logistics waiting for you when you arrive.



“All lessons were hands-on, real-life, high impact, and were taught with meaningful expectations – therefore, they produced a great response from the students ... 
A highlight was the bonding among a diverse group of students in one of the most beautiful places on earth.”

Principal Melinda Snow, Grand County, Utah, Middle School.