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A Little More About Us…
GO WEST!!! USA is not designed to correct "bad" behavior, but instead to be a haven of enthusiasm, respect, trust and responsibility.  Disrespectful behavior requiring extensive attention or breaking the law is not acceptable and will result in dismissal. Click here to download a copy of our Youth Application which clearly defines the boundaries of our program.

GO WEST!!! USA is not just a three week vacation for the teens who participate. They must demonstrate a willingness to work together, before and during the expedition.  They must participate in the fundraisers and  community service events. During the expeditions, the teens must (all chores are supervised and/or taught):

  • Fuel the Vehicles

  • Wash dishes

  • Setup/Break Camp

  • Wash Vehicle

  • Hike over 100 miles

  • Cook Meals

  • Check Tire Pressure

  • Change Motor Oil

  • Carry Firewood

  • Change Tires

  • and much more!

With an introduction to:

  • Astronomy

  •  Forestry

  • Orienteering

  • Guitar 101

  • Nature Photography

"Many of our teens here in Central PA have never even seen a starry moonlit night. "   
 - Rob

Our Expeditions are both physically and mentally challenging, but in the end we fully expect the experience to be one of the most rewarding in the lives of the teens who participate.

FAQs

What is GO WEST!!! USA?

GO WEST!!! USA is devoted to providing significant mentoring during wilderness expeditions for teens.  We combine many of the elements of a mentoring program with an outdoor wilderness expedition designed specifically for under-resourced youth.  The GO WEST!!! USA summer program is a 21-day expedition.

Where are your expeditions?

GO WEST!!! USA is based in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania.  Our expeditions take us across the country from coast to coast.  While each expedition has a similar basic schedule, the teens are responsible for planning the details of the expedition.

When are your expeditions?

The focus of the GO WEST!!! USA experience is a 21-day expedition that takes place in June, July, and August.  This summer, our first of three expeditions departs in the beginning of June (date to be announced).

How many teens take part on each expedition?

A maximum of ten teens are supervised by at least two adults.  All members of the team travel in our customized van, which is driven only by the adult volunteers.

How old are the participants?

Teens chosen for GO WEST!!! USA expeditions are between the ages of 13 and 18.  Other aged teens are evaluated on a case-by-case basis.  Volunteers must be at least 21 years old.

Are GO WEST!!! USA expeditions co-ed?

The uniqueness of our program is the diversity of our participants.  At GO WEST!!! USA we stress the value of communication, especially between different genders.  As maturing adults, these young men and women must learn to communicate with respect for each other in a real world setting.  The teens are not permitted to share sleeping quarters with the opposite gender.

Where do your volunteers come from?

The GO WEST!!! USA program is designed to send teens and volunteers local to the Harrisburg area.  This model allows for the most pre and post expedition interaction, and the possibility of an ongoing relationship between the teens and volunteer role models.

What kind of backgrounds do your volunteers have?

Our volunteers come from all walks of life and are dedicated individuals who have a vested interest in helping at-risk youth gain a new perspective.  All adults fill out a questionnaire regarding their experience in the outdoors and working with youth.  We also conduct personal interviews and criminal background checks with all of our volunteers.

How are teens selected to go on a expedition?

The teens are identified by various organizations or word of mouth as meeting the criteria of GO WEST!!! USA.  These criteria include, but are not limited to the teens being: between the ages of 13 and 18; desirous of attending the expedition; deserving of such an opportunity by showing responsibility and respect for themselves and others; free from health problems that would complicate their participation in a rigorous hike; financially unable to participate in similar activities on their own; emotionally, behaviorally and psychologically stable enough not to pose a threat to themselves or others while on the expedition.

Why send teens on such a expedition?

A GO WEST!!! USA experience combines the innate teaching ability of the natural world, with caring adults to provide a potentially life-changing experience for teens who may not have had access to either ever before.  GO WEST!!! USA provides an experience for teens that positively impacts their beliefs with regard to age/ethnic/gender diversity, self-esteem, environmental awareness, and interpersonal relationships.  As a result of the exposure and relationships formed with adult volunteer role models, these teens become better equipped to make critical career, educational and healthy lifestyle decisions.

Are the expeditions safe?

Safety is one of GO WEST!!! USA’s primary concerns.  We have had no injuries more severe than scrapes or bruises and no illness worse than headaches and homesickness.  All volunteers are Certified in CPR and First Aid, making them capable of making decisions in the event of an emergency.  Each expedition is briefed on GO WEST!!! USA safety procedures, and our trails have been scouted ahead of time either by GO WEST!!! USA staff or NPS Rangers to ensure they can be hiked by less experienced participants.

How hard will it be?

GO WEST!!! USA expeditions are physically and emotionally challenging for both teens and adults.  Each day provides new situations and obstacles ranging from weather to elevation, to being away from everything familiar.  Backpacking tests everyone’s physical limits, and usually pushes them past whatever limits they thought they we capable of; however, each night’s rest brings exuberance for the achievements of that day, and everyone agrees that it was worth the pain and frustration.

How much does it cost to go on an expedition?

GO WEST!!! USA is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit dedicated to making this type of experience available to as many youth as possible. In order to accomplish this goal, participants must be involved with GO WEST!!! USA weeks before our actual departure date. Teens are required to participate in fundraisers and to help raise funds on their own. The costs of the expeditions are a little over $2500 per teen, and there are scholarships available, so no deserving young person will ever be turned away.

What do the teens have to bring with them?

Each teen is responsible for bringing their own personal care items, as well as basic clothing for hiking and travel.  GO WEST!!! USA will provide the majority of items specific to backpacking with the exception of hiking boots and a pillow.  GO WEST!!! USA will provide all materials necessary for cooking and camping.

What happens on each day of the expedition?

Each GO WEST!!! USA has roughly the same itinerary.  The expeditions are unique in their details, but there is a timeline followed by each GO WEST!!! USA team.  Below is an example of a typical day on a GO WEST!!! USA expedition.

Typical Daily Itinerary

7:00 Rise / Camp Clean
7:30 Attendance /  “Picture That” Photography Workshop
7:45 Set Up for Breakfast
8:00 Breakfast
8:45 Tent Time/ Brush Teeth, Showers, Journals, etc.
9:15 Morning Meeting – Pre Departure/ Vehicle Checklist
9:45 On the Road
12:00 Lunch
1:00 On the Road (Flex Time)
4:00 Group Meeting/Discussion/ Planning Time
6:00 Stop for the Day/Set up Camp (Wall Drug, SD)
6:15 Set Up/ Wash Up for Dinner
6:30 Dinner
7:45 Nighttime Discovery
8:45 Discussion Group
9:30 Attendance
9:40 Bed Time
10:00 Lights Out and Quiet