Expedition and Leadership Programs at Orkila provide teens from age 13 and 8th grade the opportunity to travel in spectacular places with a group of their peers and with skilled staff. Almost all programs begin and end at Camp Orkila with the majority of the time away from camp traveling by foot, boat or bike.



The Orkila Way

The Orkila Way is the specific ways that campers at Orkila set up camp and take care of equipment. For example, during kayaking programs, there is a specific way that boats are loaded and unloaded, moved, and a standard for cleanliness that each boat must meet each day. These practices help campers learn to take care of equipment and promote the longevity of the equipment.

All Expedition Programs

Expedition Programs at Orkila are designed to provide teens with dynamic opportunities to:

  • Work in and lead small groups
  • See beautiful places
  • Create new friendships and renew old ones
  • Learn outdoor skills
  • Understand in concrete ways that each individual is capable, strong and important in the world
  • Learn and practice elemental concrete practical skills like cooking that show each person they can take care of themselves and others.
  • Develop an understanding of their fundamental beliefs.
  • Learn the ORKILA WAY of traveling as a group and lightly on the beautiful places we live.

Expedition Program Structure

Teen Expedition Programs are open to all 13 to 17 year olds. Previous participation at Camp Orkila is not required in any program. In general, 8-day programs are for first time expedition members with little of no skill or experience in a particular activity. 15-day programs are for older campers who have some experience in a particular area. For example, participants in the 15-day sailing program must have basic sailing skills or be a past member of the Orkila sailing program. This is important because it allows the group to do more with the time they have. 22-day programs are for the oldest campers and are generally not suited for participants who are doing the activity for the first time. 

Basic Daily Program Structures

Teen Expedition Programs are structured in the following manner.

Each day campers begin the day with SMB (Spirit, Mind and Body), which is designed to give an opportunity to move around, think and reflect on the world. This is followed by breakfast and traveling for the day. As part of the travel day, campers will learn new skills during skill sessions and practice drills. The day is concluded with dinner and evening circle. Evening Circle is a time to reflect on the day, discuss issues related to the 4 core values of the YMCA and look at what will be happening the following day.


Facilities, Accommodations, and Food

Camping, Housing and Bathrooms at Camp:

  • All Teen Expedition campers stay in the Tracy Strong Village at Camp Orkila in open-air cabins sleeping 10 to 12 campers and 2 staff.
  • Cabins are co-ed. Campers change in the bath house at Tracy Strong Village.
  • All cabins have a locked storage area for campers and staff when they are not at camp.
  • Each cabin has wooden bunks with foam mattresses. Bunks are two high.
  • There are 8 Cabins in the Tracy Strong Village.
  • Campers stay one to three nights at the start of their program and one or two nights at the end.
  • Specific nights in camp can be found in the trip specific itinerary.
  • When groups are in the field they stay in organized city, state, federal and private campgrounds. Groups sleep under tarps, which they set up. Tarps are single sex. Boys tarps, girls tarps and staff. There are no tents in teen programs.
  • Teens have access to the heated bathhouse in the Tracy Strong Village. This facility has disabled access showers and individual showers. The individual showers are covered, open air facilites on the outside of the building.

Food in Camp:

  • Teens eat in the Tracy Strong Lodge.
  • Some meals are prepared by the main kitchen at Camp Orkila and transported to Tracy Strong Lodge for the meal.
  • Meals are served family style.
  • Campers help set up the lodge before each meal, lead and host the meal, and also help clean up afterwards.
  • Teens share the lodge with the Horsemaster unit.
  • Meals are served at 8:45, 12:45, and 6:15.
  • The last dinner of the session is a barbecue in Teen Field
  • There is a vegetarian option available at meals for those who came to camp as a vegetarian when the meal consists of meat. 
  • There are also options for those to come to camp diary free, gluten free, soy free, egg free, and vegan. 
  • Dinners in camp consist of a hot entrée, a salad bar and dessert.
  • Lunch is often soup and sandwich
  • Breakfast: Pancakes, French Toast, eggs, Hash Browns are all example of breakfast at camp.
  • Breakfast always has a cereal bar.
  • Meals also always include water and milk, Breakfast includes juice