U.S. Southwest

Rugged wilderness. Native rights. Powerful connection, with the land and its people.

Thoughtful Preparation

Thoughtful preparation is the foundation on which the transformative expedition stands. It gives vital context allowing you to experience your expedition more fully; it teaches you about the people and places you’ll visit, providing deeper connections; it pushes you to grow, giving you a toolbox of skills you’ll use the rest of your life.

No Barriers Youth provides a variety of resources to help ensure the preparatory process is as impactful, informative and efficient as possible:

Fundraising Travel is expensive. We understand the burden of increased costs in airfare and program fees on families and that fundraising usually needs to be a priority during the preparatory process.  We also believe that working to raise funds can be a vital step in the personal growth and development among participants, resulting in increased commitment and investment in their experience. To that end, we have developed a user-friendly online fundraising tool which enables groups to customize their own messages and share them seamlessly. Simply visit this site and follow the step by step instructions. Once registered, the tool provides a variety of fundraising strategies, ideas and support.  

Support Embarking on a program of this nature can seem intimidating… but rest assured you won’t go at it alone! Every group is assigned a Group Manager or Liaison who is always just a phone call or email away. From booking airfare to questions on the packing lists, he or she supports groups through every step of our program. For groups traveling with a lead teacher (or chaperone), a set of additional resources is also provided on top of the Curriculum to aid in the preparation. Sample items include: destination-specific materials (books, maps, wildlife guides, etc.) and a series of No Barriers Youth program handbooks outlining everything from required forms to packing lists to parent meeting agendas and recommended immunizations.


Transformative Expedition

As you cross into the invisible boundaries of the Navajo Nation, the barrenness of the desert fixates your attention. You wonder how anything or anyone can survive in the sea of nothingness. You watch the bright orange sun set over steep canyon walls and feel the warmth of the earth penetrate your soul.

You begin to notice life: insects working tirelessly, plants growing creatively. You see people dressed in jeans and t-shirts, not like the Indians in the movies.  Fast food restaurants line the streets, wrappers and bottles are scattered across the sacred land. Stray dogs fight for food scraps and ravens caw in the distance. Towering sandstone spires hold stories of life hundreds of years ago. You see surprising beauty. You see scarceness. You see economic hardship and injustice. And you’ve only just arrived. You decide you want to understand. You decide you’re ready to unleash your potential and discover the power you have to make a difference.

Meaningful Return

After you’ve been home for a while and the dust from your trip has settled, you pull out your Chacos to go on a hike with your friends and they’re still caked in red sand from the river. You shake them off, but the feel of the sand between your toes transports you immediately back to your time in the Southwest and reminds you of all the experiences you had that are now a part of you.

You daydream of the sun on your face as you relaxed on the boat floating down the calm river— the sense of contentment it provided. You remember the conversation with your Expedition Leader that inspired you to pursue that dream. You feel the deep connections you formed with yourself and the resources of your planet. You notice the new confidence you gained and feel ready to tackle the barriers in your life.

You laugh remembering the inside jokes you have with your new friends. It all comes flooding back, and it dawns on you: This really was about far more than just a cool trip. This was a fundamental shift in perspective, a new mindset, a new path to travel.

Just as the preparation lays the groundwork for the expedition, the return process is fundamental in rounding out the transformative journey. To help with integrating the experience into day-to-day life, every No Barriers Youth participant creates and implements a Global Citizenship Project after their return home. And now what?! Well, it’s time you start looking for your next call to adventure!

OK, I'm excited! Tell me more.