I had the opportunity to work with NYC on their first adult crew as an AmeriCorps member in Oregon and as a crew leader for youth in Idaho. I gained a lot of experience and skills in the adult crew that will further my career. Idaho was life changing for me in ways I didn't think would happen. I learned just as much from leading the kids as they learned from me. My crew leaders have been amazing and my program directors Steve and Tom were fantastic.
However, multiple times have the two girls in the payroll office sent my checks late (after not properly setting up my direct deposit). After my Idaho session was finished they did not send my check until I called about it in which they tried to blame the postal service for being late to hide their mistake. They also gave attitude whenever a draw was requested. I'm unfortunately not the only one with accounts such as this with these girls.
NYC is such a great opportunity to get kids enthusiastic and excited for the field of environmental stewardship if not grow a healthy respect for the environment and the people who dedicate their time and lives for it. I recommend all teens and young adults to experience NYC and other Corps around the country for at least a session.
I have had the pleasure of participating in planning and design processes with NYC as a member of an architectural team. During this process we toured the facility and met with staff in order to understand the workings of the organization as well as plans and needs for the future. During this process I was immensely impressed with the organization's commitment to the success of the youth it serves as well as the broad-reaching services it provides to communities far beyond its home on Augusta Street. NYC is deeply rooted to its neighborhood through its activities and facilities. The large community garden is utilized by youth as well as neighbors and a wetland on the grounds is being restored. Working closely with NYC, we prepared plans for improvements to the building and site (a former elementary school) that will ensure its continued ability to not only continue to function in its present location, but to do so more effectively and efficiently. Northwest Youth Corps looks far into the future and is taking steps now to ensure its continued ability to provide today's youth the necessary skills for future success.
Review from Guidestar
I have hired Northwest Youth Corps every summer since 1993 to accomplish trail work on the Fremont National Forest. We have had approximately 200 crews working for us during that time span with 10 crew members and 2 crew leaders per crew for a total of around 2200 young people. My experiences with those crews has always been very positive. They have always exceeded expectations in every regard. The work they have accomplished over the years is truly remarkable. Our trails program would not be what it is without the efforts of the Northwest Youth Corps crews and the staff in their headquarters office. I would highly recommend them to anyone with no reservations whatsoever! Working with them has been one of the joys and high points of my 28 years with the Forest Service. Larry Hills, Fremont-Winema National Forest.
Review from Guidestar
There are few opportunities out there for young people as good as the Northwest Youth Corps. As a former staff member, and licensed high school teacher, I know the positive influence NYC has had on many youth. In a time of so much media and screens, NYC offers young people the refreshing gift of healthy relationship-building and physical activity in the world's best classroom - the great outdoors. Students come away with a deep sense of self confidence, new friends, hard-earned money in their pockets and great memories that will last a lifetime. Working at the Northwest Youth Corps is almost certain to be one of the best experience you'll ever have in your life.
Review from Guidestar
1- The Executve Director, Jeff Parker, assisted me in creating the Youth Corps of Southern Arizona(YCOSA). He dedicated many hours of technical and practical(hands own) assistance. We modeled our program after NYC's highly successful youth development organization. 2- Over many years YCOSA sent crewmembers to receive training from NYC- particparing as Crew Members and in Crew Leader trainings. Those participants to a person all found the NYC experience to be of value- assisting them personally to become better Crew Leaders and better stewards of our natural resources. 3- YCOSA also recruited former crew members from the NYC pool of volunteers/former participants. All of those young adults spoke admirably of their NYC experience. 4- Lasty, for those unfamiliar with this type of youth development organization, the outdoor environment can be very challenging- emotionally and physically. Many of the participants are not used to such challenges and many are struggling with a lot of issues- drugs, abuse, failure. The challenges are many and the rewards can serve the participants in all phases of their lives.
Review from Guidestar
Northwest Youth Corps is both a fantastic organization and a wise investment. NYC partners with agencies like the Forest Service and Bureau of Land Management, providing those agencies a workforce to complete necessary work. The agencies pay a much lower rate for the labor they receive and the youth participants gain invaluable (demanding, exacting, complex, etc.) work experience. It is a triple win for taxpayers, donors, and youth. The program's legacy of positive impacts on youth and helping conserve some of the best places in the west in unparalleled. This program is a critical part of the fabric of youth development in the northwest, connecting youth to our unique environmental treasures and instilling an uncompromising work and social ethic in them.
Review from Guidestar
I have worked with at-risk young people as a professional in the conservation corps community, therapeutic wilderness settings, and work skills programs. To know the intensity and challenge of working with any teen and then to add the challenge of performing skilled work in an unpredictable environment, I can't recommend a program more than NYC. Life changing experiences are shared by a community of young people that truly learn what is possible if you choose to challenge yourself. The "real" world of the outdoors is the classroom for weeks of learning. In this plugged in world it is refreshing to know that NYC participants & staffmembers make it happen with their hands & simple tools with wooden handles. My experiences and skills learned as a participant in the NYC community help me on a daily basis.
My name is Ashley Silver and there's honestly nothing I can say that's changed my life more then Northwest Youth Corps. My initial experience there wasn't exactly adequate. I was going through a difficult period in my life where I was very negligent and it was actually my mom who made me look into their 5 week summer program. I wasn't in any place to argue and I didn't really know what it was all about anyway so I wasn't opposed to the idea. I cannot deny that before being involved with NYC I lacked the principles of many things such as self motivation, self discipline, obedience and benevolence. I was definitely a very stubborn and close-minded individual. Now that I look back on myself I can see how much I have grown just in the past year since I participated in this summer program. In all reality, it was exactly this, that triggered the change in me. It wasn't until I experienced this program that I began to figure out what I took pride in doing and realized the responsibilities of being a contributing individual in our society today. When I initially did a session I still had some of these bad habits and lacked a lot of these principles so when I went to re-apply they weren't so sure about rehiring me because I hadn't demonstrated that I was diligent in the work they were doing and I had a record of having bad attitude towards my duties. It took a significant commitment for me to prove to them that I had changed, and while going to school at Northwest Youth Corps' Outdoor School, I was right next door to the headquarters everyday so they talked with my the faculty at my school. I not only had to give my word that I would be commited but I had to show it in my performance at school as well. I can glady say I did just that and completely turned it around. I graduated from ODS in June and got recommended for BLP on the session I just did in August. I've met so many of the most important people in my life through NYC and know where I want to go and what I want to do in life because of it. I can't express enough how much this organization means to me and I absolutely plan to continue my involvement with them in the future.
We became foster parents to one of our son’s friends when the young man was almost 16. He was taken from his mother when he was only 2 for abuse by her boyfriend and put in a foster home where he lived until they gave up on him. After 12 years, he was tossed out of the only home and only family structure he had known and we became his safety net.
As you might expect, he was filled with anger, sadness, loneliness and grief. He found it difficult to be connected to others because of fear and trust issues. We did our best to give him love, family and a sense of worth but he had already been badly damaged by what had happened to him. He was ripe to fall into a bad crowd while searching for a place to belong.
We were familiar with Northwest Youth Corp because our older son had worked as a counselor for them when he finished college. He had told us some wonderful stories about emotionally “lost” kids finding connection and building their self-esteem. We knew that our foster son needed to learn about teamwork and feel the gratification for a job well done and we thought what better way than to learn this while caring for the environment. So, we sent our foster son to the NYC program. He was reluctant at first but knowing that he would be given a nice check for the work when he was finished helped him consider this challenge. And, challenged he was. There were several times that we thought we would have to go and get him but he toughed it through and the counselors did not give up on him.
When we went to camp with him for parent’s night he greeted us dirty and smelly but with a smile from ear to ear. He had made friends and he had experienced what it felt like to have accomplished something important. It was easy to see the camaraderie that he had built with the counselors and other kids. Everyone was held to the same high standard and they were proud of it. It was amazing to watch these gifted and wise counselors work with the kids. They treated the kids with kindness and respect and seemed to know exactly what these kids needed. Our foster son grew in ways he never expected and learned things that would last him a lifetime. He had indeed joined a good “gang” and now he knew the difference.
My husband and I have become lifelong supporters of NYC because of the wonderful work they do with kids and for the legacy of trails, bridges and a healthy environment. Every year we get dozens of letters written by the kids in their own hand about what it has meant to them to be a part of this unique experience. NYC is training the next generation to be stewards of our precious land and along the way building teamwork, self-esteem and pride in an accomplishment that has been well done. So, Bravo and take a standing ovation Northwest Youth Corp! And, to your leaders, counselors and to the legislators and contributors who support your work, please keep this work going and expanding! We support YOU!
Dr. Barbara Dailey
Review from Guidestar
I supervise a Voc/Ed program for teens in Lane County, OR that prepare youth to be successful at school, at work and in the community. I consistently refer youth to NYC with the utmost confidence that they will have amazing experiences in safe and responsible environments. This program invites adult leaders and youth who desire challenge and who are not afraid to challenge themselves. However, this program is not for everyone. This is not a traditional summer camp or an adventure experience where youth are coddled in any way. The leaders and youth learn to push personal limits as it relates to work ethic, personal growth and environmental education. I highly recommend NYC for individuals ready to work, learn and accept personal responsibility for their community.
Northwest Youth Corps has been one of the greatest experiences of my life. I have experienced NYC as a 17-year old corpsmember in 1999, and returned the next two summers. After completing college, I worked for NYC from 2005 through 2008 as a Youth Corps Crew Leader and then as a Youth Corps Program Coordinator.
When I completed my first 5-week session in 1999, I knew I would be coming back for more. Yes, it was THE hardest thing I had ever done. Early mornings, hard and demanding work days, long hikes to work, evening chores, and limited free time. At work, my leaders pushed me to work as hard as I could, and I found out what I could really do – there were no limits to what I could accomplish at NYC, or in life.
As an insecure teenager, NYC was the one place where I could be goofy and be myself. I learned to work out conflicts with fellow corpsmembers and we treated each other with respect, regardless of our differences. I made some of my best friends at NYC – people with whom I shared struggles, hard work, and a ton of fun. And I learned so much about the world outside my small Oregon town – meeting people from different backgrounds, seeing new places, learning job skills that helped me with future jobs.
The experience doesn’t let anyone off easy – this isn’t summer camp, and if you ask anyone who successfully completed the program, they’ll proudly tell you it’s not. Safety and the well-being of every corpsmember was the priority of everyone in the organization. But staff also strove to make Northwest Youth Corps a unique, challenging, and meaningful experience that would have a positive effect on each and every corpsmember. And as a crewleader and program coordinator, I saw over and over again how Northwest Youth Corps changed the lives of teenagers for the better, just as it had changed mine.
Being a part of Northwest Youth Corps as a staff member was one of the most inspirational things I have ever done. I returned to NYC to pay the organization back for everything I gained as a corpsmember. But I found that I just gained more. And often, it was from working with the teenagers out in the woods. I was constantly amazed at what a group of people could accomplish, and how a group of diverse people can come together and find common ground.
I highly recommend Northwest Youth Corps for anyone looking for a unique experience, wanting to gain job skills and a solid work ethic, becoming a responsible young adult, meeting new people and expanding their worldview, and for anyone who loves spending time in the outdoors.
I had the pleasure of working at the Outdoor High School, a program of Northwest Youth Corps. At the school we took students on 8 day camping trips modeled after the summer conservation programs. I have witnessed firsthand the amazing experience these trips have on youth. Many of our students also participated in the 5 week summer programs and I can say without a doubt that if they participated in those programs they were extremely successful in the school program. The sense of accomplishment and pride that they come away with is second to none. I have two children myself and hope to one day have them participate in the Northwest Youth Corps programs. While not every single person has the same experience, almost all have one that positively impacts their life. I must add that the safety precautions, staff training (including Wilderness First Aid), and focus on leadership development are second to none. I definitely recommend this program to anyone interested.
I was raised in California State Parks and, after college, worked as a seasonal Ranger Naturalist at Crater Lake Nat'l Park. I served on a California Regional Water Quality Control Board for two terms; in Oregon on the Lane County Parks Advisory Committee for 11 years, and as a member of the Willamette Resources & Educational Network for two terms. I also have a degree in Wildlife Conservation from UC Berkeley and an MS in Environmental Studies from the University of Oregon. This background made me really interested in applying for an opening as development director at NW Youth Corps 17 years ago, a position I held for nearly four years. During the time I worked there I was able to see how this organization changed the lives of many of the participants. Through working in the outdoors they learned about our relationship to the forests, waters, mountains and meadows of the Pacific NW. They gained valuable work experience: showing up ready to work, performing to high standards, and learning to work as a team. Many of their instructors were young people who had served in AmericCorp or even the Peace Corps and provided a broader world perspective in the lives of the participants. Many youth work outdoors away from the main campus but there is also an alternative high school on site. A number of the enrollees are here because they haven't been able to fit in at other schools; this may be their last chance to complete a high school education. They work outdoors one week and in the classroom the next, applying what they've learned to their classroom education. Many youngsters in both situations have little or no experience in living in the outdoors. They get to see beautiful scenery and travel as well as learning to take pride in what they have done: trails built, campgrounds repaired, even repairing old cabins at one of the state parks using authentic tools from bygone days. Personnel from the U.S. Forest Service, State Parks and others provide evening programs that expand their learning experience. I always took great pride in any grant I was able to receive for NYC because the funds went to help continue the growth of these deserving young men and women. Even now, when driving up some back road to take a hike, and seeing one of the NYC vans parked near a trailhead, I know that out there someplace along the path kids are gaining a once in a lifetime experience while providing important assistance to society.
Northwest Youth Corps changed my life. It provided me an opportunity to go beyond my limits. It built my self-esteem, leadership skills, and gave me an opportunity to become a part of a community of young people committed to making ourselves and the world a better place. I am now a teacher, and the life lessons I learned at Northwest Youth Corps drive what I do on a daily basis. Without NYC, I wouldn't be the educator I am. Without NYC, I wouldn't be the person I am today. Without NYC, I wouldn't live a life devoted to making my community a better place on a daily basis.
Review from Guidestar
RED FLAG to all parents and teens considering this NYC organization for a summer outdoor education or positive, safe experience. My granddaughter, from Missouri, attended the "IDAHO" program as a member of the East 1 red crew June 9, 2012 - August 14, 2012. Our family feels extremely fortunate that she came home alive or even in fair health. She did end up in the Boise, Idaho Emergency Room where she underwent several blood tests, MRI, received IV's, etc. My opinion: dehydration, sleep deprivation and improper nutrition. NYC charges these teens for this food/stuff. Within the first 7-10 days, a "leader" and male crew member quit this "Idaho" East 1 red crew. This left William as the only leader to organize, supervise, instruct & care for this crew of 9 or 10 until a roving leader arrived, "if" they did. Dezi A. was the Idaho program coordinator of 4 crews, comprised of approx. 38 teens plus leaders. Joe W. is the program director who I believe has his office in Eugene, Oregon. Parents, if your teen can tolerate dehydration, possible heat stroke, lack of sleep, a menu of oatmeal or bagel; peanut butter or bologna sandwich; pasta each night for supper; NO gatorade(only river water with chlorine or substitute), no fresh fruit, no toilet paper at camp site, perhaps 2-3 showers for 5 weeks, this might be the program for your teen. Honestly, as I read my granddaughter's daily journal, this did "NOT" sound like a youth development & outdoor education organization. It sounded like "my" military officer's boot camp. The summer of 2011, my granddaughter was selected to participate in the YCC Yellowstone National Park Program. That was a wonderful education and well run program with even a chef to prepare meals. However, my granddaughter's Volunteer Youth Program in North Carolina was by far her favorite. A forest ranger came each day to their tent camp site to supervise the "start" of their day plus the 2 leaders who supervised the crew 24-7. MAYBE, JUST MAYBE, the Washington & Oregon programs of NYC are better organized than Idaho but someone is definitely "asleep at the wheel", in Idaho. No supervision, no compassion, no learning, no education is happening in Idaho. My granddaughter's comment was: "CHAOTIC" !!! Dr. Keith L. Johnston, PhD., Emeritus Professor, Missouri State University.
My daughter went to Northwest Youth Corps through three different programs, earning her high school diploma through the Outdoor High School. The greatest thing about NYC was its ability to work with a kid who had never spent any appreciable time outside, and turn her into a young person who is mature, confident and self-reliant in the outdoors, and who can relate to people from many different backgrounds. Thanks to NYC, my daughter has work experience she can put on her resume. My daughter’s friends—many who have also gone through this program—also know how to work hard and know the meaning of real friendship.
In today’s society, where so much youth “experience” is virtual, and “relationships” are distant and mediated through an electronic device, NYC’s programs truly are a breath of fresh air. This program offers youth and their families an authentic and challenging experience, with caring and experienced crewleaders who are invested in the youth. Graduates of the program know that they have accomplished a lot and it shows in their pride and demeanor. We are proud to be NYC donors.
At Northwest Youth Corps, we look forward to connecting with our program alumni. The vast majority of these alumni describe a fulfilling experience—one that helped them become successful in their life pursuits. While we are always unhappy to hear of a dissatisfied participant, we use it as an opportunity to identify ways to improve our programming.
One participant has chosen to anonymously post a review to this website describing a negative experience she had with our program fourteen years ago. Typically, we would simply let this go, however, the letter has so many inaccuracies and the tenor is so untypical that we feel compelled to write a response.
To begin, Northwest Youth Corps is a non-profit organization—not a commercial enterprise. We are governed by a highly respected Board of Directors that receive no compensation for their service. We provide paid job-training, education, and leadership training to youth and young adults. We do this by carrying out conservation projects for the Forest Service, BLM, County Parks and one hundred other partners across the northwest. Typical projects include wetland and prairie restoration, trail enhancement, non-native vegetation removal, riparian and stream restoration, and tree planting. Our core purpose is to provide opportunities for youth and young adults to learn, grow, and experience success.
We are proud that Northwest Youth Corps is challenging. We don’t hide the fact that days start early, and that the work is physically demanding. We acknowledge that the more difficult aspects of our program—dirt and sweat—are just as important as the laughter, deep friendships and sense of accomplishment that participants also enjoy. Through these experiences, young people can develop the sense of team work, individual effort, and leadership skills they will use to become successful in their future academic and occupational pursuits. Northwest Youth Corps is not just a job, and the rewards go way beyond the paycheck that participants earn.
NYC has many operational costs associated with providing this experience. We charge a modest tuition because we must pay our field staff to provide 24/7 supervision and leadership at our program—not just on the work site—as well as provide each participant with accredited academic activities. We also provide youth with weekend recreation trips—an essential part of the NYC program. Again, these cost money. 100% of the tuition paid by families goes directly to supporting these education and recreation activities. We charge participants a per diem food deduction because we feed our youth a more wholesome and balanced diet than most young people get at home. NYC does not have owners who are enriching themselves off the labor of youth—instead, we have a fleet of vehicles that need fuel, tools and equipment to care for, workers compensation and liability insurance premiums to pay, and a very dedicated staff who work tirelessly for modest pay. We are proud that in 2011, we put over $1,000,000.00 into the pockets of youth for their hard work.
NYC promotes itself to active teens and young adults from all walks of life who love the outdoors and who are able and interested in working with others in a safe, supervised and structured environment. Our organization has won national certifications of excellence based on our commitment to high-quality standards and continuous improvement, program design, youth development, completed service projects, and demonstration of success. Although youth who make poor choices face a formal discipline process that includes dismissal, during the course of our 28 years of operations, only a very small number of young people have had to leave the program.
Northwest Youth Corps is about great kids doing great things. Since 1984, more than 15,000 young people have committed themselves to community, education, challenge, leadership, and empowerment through NYC. While we are saddened that the participant who wrote the negative review had a bad experience, her description of our program was not accurate and her experience was not typical. We invite the reader to learn more about NYC and the positive impact it has on our youth and public lands throughout Oregon, Washington, and Idaho.
How about a review from a non-staff member?
I was a crew member as a teenager, and was so excited to start! With my passion for the environment, I thought this would be a great way to spend the summer. My parents were more iffy because, in addition to the fee to join (about $300), the cost for food per day was two hours' worth of pre-tax work ($8 per day, $5.25 per hour, works out to about 4 per hour after taxes), pay that was minimum wage.
But I begged and begged and finally got my way.
The initiation weekend was fine. Made a couple friends, but then was divided into a different crew after requesting to be in the same one as my new friends. The person who divided the crews said we need to meet new people. I thought that was mean. I just met those girls!
The first site we went to was fairly nice. We lopped off the bottom branches of trees and had fun looking for tree tag 69 (we were teenagers, what can you expect?). The second site we went to was by a lake that we weren't allowed to sleep in, and it was so full of mosquitos we were bitten through our jeans. The third site we went to had no trees and a complete lack of trees in the middle of summer isn't safe! I didn't stay for a fourth week.
On the weekends al the crews got together. There was so little adult supervision that there was a lot of sex and drug-use happening. My first exposure to illegal drugs was on the first get-together weekend. I was ticked off that we had to pay $1 for every 3 minutes in the shower. There were a few activities for us to choose from and we had to participate in one. Not many people were thrilled with having to choose between three hikes after working all weekend. Most of us wanted to stay off our feet!
During the weeks, I couldn't help but be angry that the brochure talked about relaxing in lakes, friendships, relaxing when off the clock, etc., when the reality was different. We'd get up before dawn and hike an hour to our wok spot. But we didn't go on the clock until we got there. After 8 hours of work, we hiked an hour back to camp. We were rushed when we went to the bathroom and had to use leaves when we weren't at camp (several of us sneaked toilet paper with us). When we got back to camp, we had chore lists with the cooking being the one we all wanted. It was the least strenuous. The food wasn't so great. Hot dogs got old fast. By the time we got to put our feet up, it was bed time. Five days a week it was like this. And on the weekends, we all were assigned chores to do to "earn" breakfast.
The final straw with me was someone messed with one of my medications, and I was mad that the care package my parents sent that had some money for me to buy some snacks to supplement the boring and gross food was lost by NWYC (it was returned to my home several weeks later). On a Wednesday, in the middle of the shift, another crew member and I were told we were troublesome by complaining that previous weekend (in my case, it was because my package was lost, and my crew-mate complained about lunch being the same peanut butter sandwiches every single day) and were going home, and were led back to camp to pack up and were taken into town and put on Greyhound buses to the stations nearest our homes. Our parents weren't called prior to this.
My parents considered suing. Who in their right minds puts minors on buses without making sure their parents are around? My family happened to be out of state, and the first they heard I wasn't at camp anymore was after I got to the Salem Greyhound and bummed enough change to make some phone calls and got a hold of my grandma (who lived in California) since my parents weren't answering, and it turned out my parents were in California. My parents scrambled to find a friend who could pick me up. My parents decided to not sue and we all wanted to put it all behind us.
My dad had a friend whose company contracted with NWYC that summer and paid $15 per person-hour ($180 per hour for 12 people, including the 2 crew leaders my crew had), and was floored when he found out that, of that $15, I received minimum wage and then had to pay food. He felt that if NWYC was profiting so much , the least they could so was to pay for the oatmeal we had for breakfast, the peanut butter sandwiches we ate for lunch, and the hot dogs we had at dinner.
After the food deduction and taxes, when I finally got my check weeks later, for the 12.5 days of work, I received less than $100. My parents received a bill for the bus ticket and my mom told the supervisor where he can shove the bill.
I think the "self-reliable" and "independence" that most kids learn in this program is due to having to fend for themselves, and the kids learned to rely on each other because the adults weren't very helpful. Even in my crew, we looked out for each other because no one else would.
If my own child were to beg and beg to join NWYC, there's no way this side of hell I'd allow it. Even if the pay were much much higher, no. No amount of money is worth making her go through what I did.
The biggest benefactors are the program directors. The other three crews had three leaders plus 10 kids. Between the 51 workers, NWYC received $765 per hour, or $6,120 per day, or $153,000 for the 25 work days, plus $12,000 in fees to join from the families of the teens, plus we paid our own food $14,400 between all 40 kids for the 45 days). $179,400 is what they took in. $1050 was the total paid to each kid and crew leader. So $53,550 in salaries. Let's say the full $8 went to food, and it cost $500 for the gas (that's being VERY generous) for each crew, plus $500 in miscellaneous expenses per crew, a total of $2,000.
$179,000 minus $53,550 in pay to the workers minus $14,400 for food minus $4,000 for gas and other expenses. And just because I'm nice, let's say the run-down buildings cost $5,000 to maintain. That's still a profit of $102,100 for only five weeks. The owners of this company pocket as much as the 51 people actually working do. Shameful. And what we workers got was a lot of tripe about the rewards of working in beautiful locations that were really hell with so little downtime during the week and startlingly little supervision on the weekends that many of us participated in drugs to handle the thought of the coming week. Hellish conditions do make kids "grow up."
This is an excellent, very well run organization. They have an impressive safety record, maintain high standards and produce top notch work. Project sponsors are very satisfied with the results and parents love that their kids learn great life skills. The testimonials from the kids about what they learned about themselves, working together as a group and the outdoor experience are priceless. The staff is incredible as well.