- Associated Press - Sunday, July 20, 2014

JACKSON, Wyo. (AP) - Middle school and high school students are learning in a totally different type of classroom this summer.

There are no chalkboards, no desks and no textbooks.

The teachers are mountain guides, raft instructors and adventure enthusiasts. The curriculum consists of climbing mountains, catching fish, paddling boats and learning the many intricacies of an ice ax.

This is summer life at High Adventure Expeditions - a series of camps and voyages in and around the backcountry of Jackson Hole.

“This is a way for kids to take advantage of the local and regional outdoor offerings we have in this area,” said Mike Estes, Teton County/Jackson Parks and Recreation Youth Sports and Outdoors Recreation coordinator.

The program is a joint effort between parks and rec and adventure companies and retailers like Exum Mountain Guides, Rendezvous River Sports and Teton Mountaineering.

Kids ages 12 to 18 are taken to the rivers, lakes and mountains around the region. They get to explore and learn with some of the most experienced and knowledgeable guides in the area.

The camps began June 8 and run almost weekly until Aug. 14.

Since early June groups of anywhere from 10 to 20 kids have been rock climbing in Idaho or sea kayaking in Yellowstone or learning snow skills in Grand Teton National Park.

In the near future they will fish and climb in the Wind River range or learn how to be a whitewater river guide.

The kids don’t have to do it all. They choose which camp is right for them based on their hobbies and interests.

Many of the kids are already in outdoor adventure clubs at their schools. The High Adventure Expeditions allow the kids to continue to learn when school is out and the weather is fine.

“These programs are a way to bridge that gap in the summer months when the school programs are not in session,” Estes told the Jackson Hole News & Guide (https://bit.ly/1rxvFGh).

Whether it’s circumnavigating Yellowstone Lake or fishing the crystal clear waters of Rapid Lake in the Winds, there’s something for every outdoor kid.

For the true enthusiast there are even opportunities to learn a trade.

At the snow school with Exum mountain guides the kids learned how to ascend and descend snow. They learned how to use an ice ax. They learned how to tie knots and how to be a safe, self-sufficient mountaineer.

At this week’s whitewater rafting guide program kids will be taken to the Middle Fork of the Salmon River in Idaho. There they will “basically learn what it takes to be a river guide,” Estes said.

Estes said the kids get to spend a lot of time with the river, mountain and fishing guides. They learn not only what it takes to be successful in the outdoors but how they can turn a passion into a career.

The guides are people the kids can look up to and emulate.

“They get to meet and really get to know some of these guides,” Estes said. “They are that adult figure outside of their parents in their lives.”

The program is in its third year. Estes said each year the trips are more elaborate and adventurous. And each year more kids entertain the idea of spending their summer in the backcountry with adults who know a thing or two about it.

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Information from: Jackson Hole (Wyo.) News And Guide, https://www.jhnewsandguide.com

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