Youth River Skills Camp

Build confidence, basic outdoor skills, and have fun in Canyon Country!

This is a whitewater rafting summer camp for middle schoolers. The Youth River Skills Camp is designed to inspire the next generation of river runners! This program is for rising 7th through 9th graders interested in learning whitewater rafting skills, developing their communication and teamwork skills, and connecting with other kids their age in a fun camp setting. The trip lasts 3 days and 2 nights along the Colorado River.

A grab-bag of adventure

Your camper will be introduced to river ecology, river dynamics, equipment rigging, and safety and risk management concepts. The valuable skills learned during this course will offer the experience needed for future river trips, outdoor leadership, or guide employment. This stretch of river has some whitewater rapids, and offers a chance to test new skills in a fun, manageable way. Let’s get out on the water and have some fun!

No previous experience is necessary!


  • Whitewater Rafting
  • Camp cooking
  • Teambuilding
  • Technical skills building
  • Naturalist education
  • Introductory first aid and safety education
  • Games and free time


  • Increased leadership skills
  • Increased self-management skills
  • Confidence building
  • Resume and experience building
  • Positive growth in group awareness
  • Heightened risk management and safety skills
The Colorado River; The Moab Daily Section
July 23, 2024 through July 25, 2024
3 days and 2 nights
Age Range:
Rising 7th, 8th, and 9th graders or ages 12 - 15
$400 for Grand or San Juan County, or $600 for nonlocal

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

Level 1 - Easy

  • 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 - Moderate

  • 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 - Active

  • 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.
  • If you live in Grand County, Spanish Valley, or La Sal your child could qualify for a scholarship. Check out our summer camp Scholarship Application.
  • A $50 deposit is required to reserve a spot.

See other trips in these categories:

Trip Narrative

Youth River Skills is a jam-packed 3 days of fun!

Day 1

Drop-off is at 8:30 am at CFI Headquarters on the first day. We will get your camper outfitted with all the river gear that they’ll need for the trip including dry bags, PFDs, and other loaner gear like tents and sleeping bags if needed. We will launch the boats when ready and start our trip down the Colorado River. The stretch begins with some flatwater, so kids can practice steering a boat, using the oars, and navigating the current. We will find a beach to set up camp, unload the gear and cook a hearty dinner!

Day 2

We’ll work as a team to take down camp, make breakfast, and rig the boats for the day’s float. We might start encountering some mild rapids this day, so campers can try their hand at guiding some whitewater! We will also take time to teach other river skills like knot tying, throw-bagging, teambuilding, and other activities. We’ll find another campground and set up camp. We may light a campfire and spend some time stargazing, storytelling, going on a night hike, or another evening activity around camp.

Day 3

We hit the take-out on day 3. Your kid will be eager to fill you in on the adventures, games, skills, and friends they experienced while on Youth River Skills!


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.

Thanks for asking...We know this can be an awkward subject. The fact is, our guides work extremely hard and appreciate getting tipped! 

On school trips tips are not expected but greatly appreciated. 

On an adult or private trip, an industry suggested tip is about 10% if your program fee, depending on your experience.

If you wish to include a gratuity, cash is preferred, but sending a check or a payment to CFI's Venmo: @canyonlandsfieldinstitute is also a great way to thank your guides for their hard work.  Tips are always pooled and distributed.

Additional Information

  • View the Youth River Skills Packing List
  • 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.
  • Your child could qualify for a scholarship. Check out our summer camp Scholarship Application. 

Accessibility and Safety

Youth River Skills is an overnight rafting trip on the Colorado River. Campers can expect activities to include hiking, rafting, games, arts and crafts, and free time around camp. Kids coming to Youth River Skills are expected to manage their own hygiene and bathroom needs, follow the guides' directions, and follow the camp rules established at the beginning of the program.

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.