Native Teen Guide-in-Training Camp

An immersive river trip down the San Juan River!

Native Teen Guide-in-Training is designed for Indigenous students entering 8th – 12th grades interested in building community, and developing leadership and whitewater rafting skills. The camp is open to teens interested in learning technical skills, developing public speaking, and improving leadership and teambuilding skills.

Develop Connections

Under the guidance of professional Native guides, spend time unplugging, and connecting with peers while working together to navigate the river. This program provides marketable leadership and resume building experience while providing a fun way to connect with nature.

The NTGIT program is made possible through underwriting from the Val A. Browning Foundation and costs $50 for the entire program.


  • River safety and whitewater boating
  • Camp cooking
  • Basic first aid and rescue techniques
  • Teambuilding
  • Technical skills education
  • Games and free time


  • Advanced leadership and group management skills
  • Confidence building
  • Resume and marketable skills building
  • Increased self-management skills
  • Positive growth in teamwork and communication
  • Heightened risk management and safety skills
Bluff and the San Juan River
2022 dates, TBD
6 days and 5 nights
Age Range:
13 through 18 years old
Cost: $50

This is how we rate the challenges you might face on a CFI trip.

Level 1

  • Low level of physical activity, minimal movement required
  • 0 nights spent camping or in the field
  • Hiking or walking 0-2 miles per day

Level 2

  • Medium level of physical activity, some movement required
  • 1-4 nights spent camping or in the field
  • Hiking up to 4 miles per day
  • Flatwater or mild whitewater rapids

Level 3

  • Medium or high level of physical activity
  • 1-5 nights spent camping or in the field
  • Hiking up to 5 miles per day
  • Class I - III whitewater rapids

Level 4 - Challenging

  • High level of physical activity
  • 1-6 nights spent camping or in the field
  • Hiking 5 or more miles per day
  • Class IV whitewater rapids
CFI's Essential Eligibility Criteria outlines specific challenges that you may face on CFI trips. Please consult the EEC for information on responsibilities of participants.
  • Drop off and pickup Location: Sand Island Campground, Bluff, Utah
  • Arrangements can be made to transport campers traveling by air to and from Grand Junction Airport

See other trips in these categories:

These canyons were echoing with the laughter and with indigenous humor, and it was not only filling the canyons with laughter but was really filling my heart and the other guides’ hearts. Really just replenishing the faith in humanity.

Avery Old Coyote


“I’ve matured so much from this trip...I started to realize that this is big and this is history, and I started to pay attention, and I learned so much”

Jade S

Native Teen participant

Thank you for providing the students an educational and enriched experience! Both students and adults on this trip have learned so much in eight days. The experiences on this Native Teen Guide in Training Program has planted seeds in many ways. On this trip some obvious growth have emerged in every student and adult. I know other student participants from past years are current pursing educational and vocational goals that will sustain and enrich their lives. These types of opportunities provided by Native/Dine guides are rare. Please continue your support of this program

Marlene V

NTGIT Chaperone

Thank you for giving me this opportunity to experience and learn how to be a river guide. I really enjoyed this trip, it’s actually my first time! and I would love to come back and learn more. I enjoyed everything about this trip.


Native Teen participant

Thank you! I had so much fun and I hope to do this again.

Racquel T

Native Teen participant

This is a super fun program and one of my favorite things to do over the summer.

Glenn F

Native Teen participant

Thank you very much for this opportunity.  I learned how to tie knots, to paddle raft and to jump into a swimming hole for the first time. This was my first raft trip and I hope to come back next year. Thank You.

Keilani K

Native Teen participant

On the first day, I was kinda shy, I didn’t know what to do. Now I’m friends with everybody here.

Talon W

Native Teen participant

Trip Narrative

This immersive program has a few different components that come together to create a well rounded experience for your teen.

On Land

For the first few nights, we will basecamp at Sand Island Campground in Bluff, Utah. During this portion, we will venture out into the surrounding canyons for a canyoneering adventure, and to investigate the local plants and animals with a guest expert. While on land, we will also practice some of the camping skills we will use on the river, like cooking, setting up tents, and managing the campsite. 

On the River

After two nights at Sand Island, we will be ready to launch on the San Juan River! While navigating down the river, we will explore and practice skills like whitewater boating, public speaking, first aid, and leadership. Our days will feature a healthy combination of structured activities as well as free time to relax, play games, and connect to peers.

The river stretch starts out with flatwater, so teens can learn the ins and outs of captaining a boat. Soon, the water will start moving more swiftly and we will encounter mild, splashy rapids. We will work as a team to navigate the rapids, find a camping spot, set up camp, and cook a delicious group dinner.

The teaching staff is a combination of Native and CFI guides, and other activities may include, fire building, swiftwater rescue instruction, stargazing, and story telling.

At the end of the trip, we will return to Sand Island Campground to reunite campers with their families. Your teen will be excited to share with you about the new friends, adventures, and skills they learned while at camp! 


Some people say food is the most important part of the adventure. On all our overnight trips, CFI will provide breakfast, lunch, and dinner, a morning and afternoon snack, and an appetizer before dinner. If you have a dietary restriction or food allergy, note it on your medical form so we can best prepare.

Depends on the trip. As a general rule, CFI provides all group gear related to fully outfitting your trip. Specialized gear like PFDs, wetsuits, dry bags, educational materials are all provided by CFI. Additionally, we take care of all kitchen and dishware needs. 

Find out more about trip specific packing.

Most importantly, a willingness to slow down, connect to your surroundings, and experience the moment. Additionally, participants are required to bring a tent, sleeping bag, sleeping pad, personal clothing, medication, and other essential personal items. Many gear items are available for rent. Reach out to us if you are interested in seeing a trip specific packing list, or learn more about trip specific packing here.

CFI provides options to rent gear:

  • Two person tent: $30 / trip
  • Sleeping bag: $20 / trip
  • Kid sleeping pad: $7 / trip
  • Adult sleeping pad (paco pad): $15 / trip
  • Package deal: Sleeping bag, sleeping pad, and one tent per two people: $40 / trip

For any CFI summer camp, gear rentals are free!

Every CFI guide has either a Wilderness First Aid or Wilderness First Responder certification. Your trip leader will have a Wilderness First Responder certification. Anyone working with youth has passed a background check, and shuttle drivers are insured with clean driving records. Backcountry trips carry In-Reach satellite communication devices for emergencies. All guides have been evaluated by Canyonlands Field Institute as possessing the judgement, skills, and disposition required for mitigating risk in the field. 

As technology grows more and more invasive by the day, CFI promotes connection to what matters. To achieve this, all school and youth programs are unplugged and students are not permitted to bring electronic devices. Not only is there rarely cell service, devices are a distraction to our ability to connect to the present moment. On Private Group Trips or Adult Seminars, the use of devices is permitted but discouraged.

CFI works hard to ensure a positive experience for all guides and participants. Because of the unpredictable nature of outfitting, we have created a series of policies so maintain our ability to manage risk in the outdoors.

For critical information regarding cancellations, deposits, and other participant responsibilities, please view our trip policies page or contact us with any questions.

Need to Know

  • CFI staff are trained educators and guides with first aid and CPR certifications. Back-country trips carry satellite communications devices.  
  • All cook and dishware, meals, snacks, and river gear are provided by CFI.   
  • Tents are provided and sleep kits (sleeping bag, sleeping pad) can be borrowed at no additional cost 

CFI is a non-profit organization and fees are not taxed. By choosing CFI, you are supporting our efforts to provide lifechanging outdoor experiences for hundreds of children per year.  Scholarships are available on an as needed basis.