Senior Summit Expedition
Dive deep into the questions of what it means to be a son or a daughter of God, while exploring remote wilderness on foot. Refine previous skills from Camp Wojtyla and build fun new experiences upon them. Engage in relevant discussions on how to live out our Christian faith and witness in this day and age, especially on a college campus. If you’re looking for direction and support for the next stage of your life adventure, this is the expedition for you!
Duration: 9 days
Backpacking in the Sangre de Cristo Mountains, southern CO*
Approximate backpacking route length: 30 miles
Average group size: 9 campers / 3 instructors
Elevation range: 5,000 to 13,000 ft
Senior-focused programming, single gender groups
Sacraments in the Mountains! Opportunities for Mass, Confession, and Adoration while on trail, along with daily prayer
Experience a diversity of Rocky Mountain environments: alpine; subalpine; and montane ecosystems
Opportunities for: summit attempts, navigation, observing wildlife, honing wilderness living skills, faith programming, fishing, stargazing
White water rafting on the Arkansas River
Literally meaning “The Blood of Christ,” the Sangre de Cristo Mountains* received their named from the reddish hues they take on during sunrise and sunset. This geologically unique area is one of the longest ranges of mountains on the continent and boasts over 10 of the states 14,000 foot peaks and more than 2 dozen over 13,000 ft. The Sangres’ steep and narrow beauty stands in stark contrast to the surrounding valleys and is a hot spot for outdoor enthusiasts due to the wide range of world-class recreation offerings.
During this expedition, campers will begin by brushing up their basics of outdoor living, from tent setup and cooking to navigation and packing a backpack. As the group travels and becomes re-accustomed to life in the mountains, campers will have opportunities to form friendships and lead the group, while still learning faith-based, outdoor, and leadership skills from their instructors. This trip is designed to build from previous Camp Wojtyla experiences at both base camp and in the backcountry and take them further. By the end of this excursion, campers can gain a greater love and understanding of God, their Self, and Others through the context of Creation.
*Due to permitting constraints, final trip area is subject to change
Weather and Other Challenges
The Rocky mountains are an environment of harsh beauty. The areas the groups visit may be remote, and may be several hours or even days from medical facilities. Each group will be staffed with experienced instructors trained in wilderness medicine and emergency response.
While wildlife are an amazing sight to see, some can be dangerous. This course will travel through known black bear habitat, with the unlikely potential for grizzly bears and mountain lions as well. Some mountain wildlife, such as rattlesnakes, are venomous. The instructors will implement proper risk management practices and teach campers how to properly travel and camp to avoid encounters with such species other potential hazards. Groups travel with bear-deterrent pepper spray as a precaution, and always store food in bear-resistant canisters.
Weather and Climate
These trips will encounter a wide range of weather and temperatures. In the Rocky Mountains, bright and sunny mornings are frequently followed by passing thunderstorms in the afternoons. Lightning, rain, hail, and even snow are possible outcomes of these storms at higher elevations. Wind conditions can vary from day to day, as well as from peaks to valleys. Under the sun’s heat, average July temperatures can reach over 80℉ during the day, while dropping down below 35℉ at night.
Groups may find themselves following a smooth and straight-forward trail one day, and then bushwhacking off-trail through thick vegetation or scrambling over boulders the next. Rivers are icy from snowmelt and can be difficult or impossible to cross, but in late July most rivers have significantly diminished. Expedition groups may have to traverse slopes of loose rock and carry a heavy backpack up steep passes.
Due to the above descriptions, it is necessary that campers are prepared and fit both mentally and physically in order to undertake such an experience . While it is not necessary for participants to be star athletes, they should come with a solid baseline fitness for a person of their age and size. Individuals should be able to carry packs weighing up to 55 lbs for up to 8 miles on uneven mountain terrain. They should also have the fortitude of mind to be able to continue on if and when challenging circumstances arise. A suggested training and preparation plan will be provided with the packing list.
While not a focus of the trip, campers may have opportunities to fish. Licenses are available to both residents and non-residents annually or for a one week periods. If you are interested in learning how to fish on this course, or continuing with an existing passion, consider purchasing a fishing license. Camp Wojtyla has rental options for fishing gear. For more information about gear or licenses, please contact the CW Backcountry Programs Coordinator.
Adventure at Camp Wojtyla
Camp Wojtyla backpacking trips are designed to bring the Catholic faith alive for young men and women in a challenging, yet fun and supportive environment. Campers have the opportunity for a positive, transformational experience and often leave our trips inspired and empowered to act, with newfound friends and mentors along for the journey.
“Many camps and outdoor programs offer incredible high adventure experiences like rock climbing and mountaineering. Still other camps offer faith formation and inspire growth in one's relationship with God. Some even offer them all throughout the same week...after you rock climb you'll learn a little about Jesus. We wanted to teach about our Lord, Jesus Christ and the life He has called us to WHILE rock climbing---engage the big questions of life AS we whitewater raft---KNOW what it is to depend on your brother in Christ within the adventure experience at hand. We wanted BOTH the amazing adventure experience AND the faith formation --- TOGETHER.
We know first hand just how much adventure can teach us about Jesus Christ, the Church He founded and the life he has called us to. We know how important it is to know one's faith, to read and understand the scriptures and to have solid fellowship with other Catholics. We also know that extensive research points to the positive effects of outdoor experiences on self awareness, confidence and leadership skills. Our lives are not compartmentalized, so why should camp be? St. Therese of the Child Jesus is quoted as saying "I choose all" when faced with a choice of many extreme goods. At Camp Wojtyla, we choose ALL---adventure and faith formation, integrated seamlessly--- and that is what makes all the difference.” (from Camp Wojtyla Director, Annie Powell).
The mission of Camp Wojtyla is to lead and challenge young people through adventures in the wilderness into a joyful and transformative relationship with Jesus Christ and His Church.