Overview

Fun, friends and adventure. Unique opportunities of community service with Native American hosts in the Navajo Nation and Zuni and Hopi pueblos. Multi-day white water rafting expeditions, hiking amongst wildflowers to 14,000 ft peaks, and rappelling into sandstone canyons with people from all over the world.

Summer Expeditions are roughly three weeks long, and take participants to some of the richest hidden places of the Colorado Plateau. Groups begin and end their expeditions at Deer Hill's Basecamp in Southwest Colorado, before exploring the surrounding area.

Community service projects take place in the Navajo Nation, Hopi Pueblo and Zuni Pueblo, and blend hard work with time for participants and hosts to make a genuine connection. Projects include up to 56 hours of community service credit.

Wilderness activities include multi-day white water river expeditions, technical canyoneering, mountain backpacking, peak ascents, and rock climbing.

Groups are comprised of participants from all over the world, and the US, so cultural and ethnic diversity is built into every program, not just in the service projects, but in the groups themselves.

Based in Mancos, Colorado, for over 30 years Deer Hill Expeditions has been running programs in Arizona, Colorado, New Mexico and Utah that challenge young people to discover their personal strengths in relation to the world around them. Founders and owners, Doug and Beverly Capelin, achieve this vision through well-planned wilderness expeditions in familiar country, and with long standing relationships in Navajo, Hopi and Zuni communities.

Deer Hill Expeditions is accredited by the Association for Experiential Education, and maintains an impeccable record of risk management.

Cost and Session Information

Check website for current dates, locations and costs.

5 Participant Reviews

Write a Review
Exceptional Summer Outdoor Adventure Experience for Teens

Exceptional Summer Outdoor Adventure Experience for Teens

5
Reviewed on 3/23/2016 by

Deer Hill Expeditions offers a socially engaging, physically challenging, and thought-provoking approach to an outdoor adventure experience for teenagers. Students connect with each other, the earth, and most importantly, themselves while rafting, backpacking, mountain biking and climbing in the diverse and exquisite wild places in the American Southwest. This program is exceptional and truly a unique gem in the outdoor adventure summer program industry!

Help with Growing Up

Help with Growing Up

5
Reviewed on 3/10/2016 by

My son has been involved in Deer Hill over the years as a group leader and instructor. He has moved on in his life and in some ways he hasn't. He still lives close to nature even in the city. He breathes the salty cool air of the beach and the damp close air of the redwoods. He runs along the paths of the park, bikes hard to work and back, skis in the high mountains, boats the rivers of the southwest. These feelings and experiences course through his being and make him who he is as a person. The Deer Hill experience is a part of the fabric of who he is. He is confident and self assured. He is sensitive and loving. He is appreciative and stays close to nature and the tenderness of life. These qualities were enhanced and developed while with Deer Hill, there is no doubt. The Deer Hill staff, their interactions with students and all who they come into contact with, and most importantly nature and the wilderness is deep and thoughtful. There is no other outdoor experience for youth that is more life changing and important. Deer Hill provides an essential experience to growing up and one that every child should have the opportunity to have.

Ultimate Freedom

Ultimate Freedom

5
Reviewed on 3/10/2016 by

I'm 30 years old now, and about once a month or more I'm struck by a wave of "Deer Hill-sickness", the affliction program directors warn both participants and their parents of before the end of each trip. It is the feeling of grief mixed with exhilaration that comes periodically throughout your trip, and continues after you leave (apparently, for decades). The feeling generates from belonging to a group of new people from around the globe for a short but intense period of challenge and growth and fun, and most of all, the sensation of total freedom. (The grief part comes from the knowledge that the experience will have to end in a few short weeks). I came home from my first summer at Deer Hill Expeditions at 13 and told my parents I'd never felt more like myself than I had that summer. I was NOT a particularly introverted or self-conscious teen. I had actually fought tooth and nail against going to the unbathed wilderness, and cried every night before leaving because I was having so much fun with my friends at home. But once I settled into my group of amazing kids from across the country, and hiked 40 miles in a week, and climbed multiple peaks (by the way, I took that photo of my friend Anna gazing across the Weminuche pictured above!), and rafted the San Juan River, and stayed with a family on the Hopi Reservation, I had changed as person. My world as well as my inner life had been amplified. Normal life was not going to cut it for me, ever again. I returned to Deer Hill for three more summers, each time flourishing physically and in the sensation of being part of something greater than myself. My experiences, and my place in the “Deer Hill Family”, stay with me like a superpower. Is there anything more valuable than that to give your child? I yearn to go back. I cannot WAIT to send my daughter there. Deer Hill is a place that heightens your senses and opens a door to a part of your being that you might not have known was there. You'll jones for it, and you'll insist that others try it. Go! Just go!!! You’ll be so glad you did. Forever.

Every child needs this!

Every child needs this!

5
Reviewed on 2/10/2016 by

My daughter has been on two Deerhill Expeditions and would happily spend her whole summer there if that was a possibility! Ruby is a typical American teen. Extremely busy in and out of school, and probably chronically sleep deprived! She wanted to go on a Deerhill expedition to be outside and to have time to really relax away from all the distractions of teenage life. It's hard to write a review without sounding ridiculously over the top. Phrases like life changing and transformative sound cliche but are so applicable. To get to spend three weeks in another world, with no social media, and far away from the very real stress of teen life is truly a gift. I can't adequately describe the excitement I saw in my daughter when I picked her up from the airport. She was thrilled with the trip, and with herself. The leaders were perfect. Nurturing but also allowing them to be brave and rise to the many challenges of wilderness life. She learned so many back country skills, but more importantly she learned resilience and self reliance. Frequently, in the year or so since her last trip, she will mention something they did or said on the trip and how it still resonates with her. I believe that Deerhill has given her so much more than I ever expected, and we are all so very grateful. If you can, send your child to this wonderful place. You will not regret it!

An Adventure Program Full of Richness and Depth

An Adventure Program Full of Richness and Depth

5
Reviewed on 1/18/2016 by

I have participated in numerous adventure and wilderness programs, as both a student and a field instructor, and Deer Hill continues to stay with me more than any other. Like other outdoor programs, Deer Hill educates adolescents in the mountains and on the rivers while teaching leadership and confidence - building skills. However, Deer Hill goes a step further through its service component with Native Americans in the American Southwest. The magic and new awareness that happens during this time is difficult to articulate. I believe that working with and witnessing a people that still worships nature cultivates a profound appreciation for our Earth, and further with greater Self. As a student I worked on the Navajo Reservation with my group, and our task was to build a wall around the community center, or Hogan. In the evenings we would participate in community meetings with elders or drumming and music. One of the elders, our host, would also tell Navajo stories and moral lessons with animal and Earth archetypes. Sitting there on the dry, bare Earth, in the Hogan, listening to this older man share his wisdom with us, a gift that is no longer appreciated in my own culture, simply changed me. Adolescence for me was a time of confusion and fogginess, and Deer Hill provided me with a map and compass to find myself. One could call this a connection to my soul, my true self, or my true nature, but to fully define the beauty of my time as both student and teacher is challenging. What I do know is that my individual experiences with Deer Hill in community felt true, and I am grateful that this feeling has stuck with me. ~~Caroline Lewis

5 Participant Reviews

Write a Review
Exceptional Summer Outdoor Adventure Experience for Teens

Exceptional Summer Outdoor Adventure Experience for Teens

5
Reviewed on 3/23/2016 by

Deer Hill Expeditions offers a socially engaging, physically challenging, and thought-provoking approach to an outdoor adventure experience for teenagers. Students connect with each other, the earth, and most importantly, themselves while rafting, backpacking, mountain biking and climbing in the diverse and exquisite wild places in the American Southwest. This program is exceptional and truly a unique gem in the outdoor adventure summer program industry!

Help with Growing Up

Help with Growing Up

5
Reviewed on 3/10/2016 by

My son has been involved in Deer Hill over the years as a group leader and instructor. He has moved on in his life and in some ways he hasn't. He still lives close to nature even in the city. He breathes the salty cool air of the beach and the damp close air of the redwoods. He runs along the paths of the park, bikes hard to work and back, skis in the high mountains, boats the rivers of the southwest. These feelings and experiences course through his being and make him who he is as a person. The Deer Hill experience is a part of the fabric of who he is. He is confident and self assured. He is sensitive and loving. He is appreciative and stays close to nature and the tenderness of life. These qualities were enhanced and developed while with Deer Hill, there is no doubt. The Deer Hill staff, their interactions with students and all who they come into contact with, and most importantly nature and the wilderness is deep and thoughtful. There is no other outdoor experience for youth that is more life changing and important. Deer Hill provides an essential experience to growing up and one that every child should have the opportunity to have.

Ultimate Freedom

Ultimate Freedom

5
Reviewed on 3/10/2016 by

I'm 30 years old now, and about once a month or more I'm struck by a wave of "Deer Hill-sickness", the affliction program directors warn both participants and their parents of before the end of each trip. It is the feeling of grief mixed with exhilaration that comes periodically throughout your trip, and continues after you leave (apparently, for decades). The feeling generates from belonging to a group of new people from around the globe for a short but intense period of challenge and growth and fun, and most of all, the sensation of total freedom. (The grief part comes from the knowledge that the experience will have to end in a few short weeks). I came home from my first summer at Deer Hill Expeditions at 13 and told my parents I'd never felt more like myself than I had that summer. I was NOT a particularly introverted or self-conscious teen. I had actually fought tooth and nail against going to the unbathed wilderness, and cried every night before leaving because I was having so much fun with my friends at home. But once I settled into my group of amazing kids from across the country, and hiked 40 miles in a week, and climbed multiple peaks (by the way, I took that photo of my friend Anna gazing across the Weminuche pictured above!), and rafted the San Juan River, and stayed with a family on the Hopi Reservation, I had changed as person. My world as well as my inner life had been amplified. Normal life was not going to cut it for me, ever again. I returned to Deer Hill for three more summers, each time flourishing physically and in the sensation of being part of something greater than myself. My experiences, and my place in the “Deer Hill Family”, stay with me like a superpower. Is there anything more valuable than that to give your child? I yearn to go back. I cannot WAIT to send my daughter there. Deer Hill is a place that heightens your senses and opens a door to a part of your being that you might not have known was there. You'll jones for it, and you'll insist that others try it. Go! Just go!!! You’ll be so glad you did. Forever.

Every child needs this!

Every child needs this!

5
Reviewed on 2/10/2016 by

My daughter has been on two Deerhill Expeditions and would happily spend her whole summer there if that was a possibility! Ruby is a typical American teen. Extremely busy in and out of school, and probably chronically sleep deprived! She wanted to go on a Deerhill expedition to be outside and to have time to really relax away from all the distractions of teenage life. It's hard to write a review without sounding ridiculously over the top. Phrases like life changing and transformative sound cliche but are so applicable. To get to spend three weeks in another world, with no social media, and far away from the very real stress of teen life is truly a gift. I can't adequately describe the excitement I saw in my daughter when I picked her up from the airport. She was thrilled with the trip, and with herself. The leaders were perfect. Nurturing but also allowing them to be brave and rise to the many challenges of wilderness life. She learned so many back country skills, but more importantly she learned resilience and self reliance. Frequently, in the year or so since her last trip, she will mention something they did or said on the trip and how it still resonates with her. I believe that Deerhill has given her so much more than I ever expected, and we are all so very grateful. If you can, send your child to this wonderful place. You will not regret it!

An Adventure Program Full of Richness and Depth

An Adventure Program Full of Richness and Depth

5
Reviewed on 1/18/2016 by

I have participated in numerous adventure and wilderness programs, as both a student and a field instructor, and Deer Hill continues to stay with me more than any other. Like other outdoor programs, Deer Hill educates adolescents in the mountains and on the rivers while teaching leadership and confidence - building skills. However, Deer Hill goes a step further through its service component with Native Americans in the American Southwest. The magic and new awareness that happens during this time is difficult to articulate. I believe that working with and witnessing a people that still worships nature cultivates a profound appreciation for our Earth, and further with greater Self. As a student I worked on the Navajo Reservation with my group, and our task was to build a wall around the community center, or Hogan. In the evenings we would participate in community meetings with elders or drumming and music. One of the elders, our host, would also tell Navajo stories and moral lessons with animal and Earth archetypes. Sitting there on the dry, bare Earth, in the Hogan, listening to this older man share his wisdom with us, a gift that is no longer appreciated in my own culture, simply changed me. Adolescence for me was a time of confusion and fogginess, and Deer Hill provided me with a map and compass to find myself. One could call this a connection to my soul, my true self, or my true nature, but to fully define the beauty of my time as both student and teacher is challenging. What I do know is that my individual experiences with Deer Hill in community felt true, and I am grateful that this feeling has stuck with me. ~~Caroline Lewis

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