Back to Earth

Nature connection, culture-building, rites of passage wilderness immersions for teens and young adults

Back to Earth is a wilderness guiding and outdoor education company based in the San Francisco Bay Area. We offer summer backpacking adventures for teens and young adults, as well as year-round mentoring, land-based outings and custom programs.

Our approach emphasizes deep nature connection, the use of ritual, and authentic self-expression. We are training the next generation of young leaders who are equipped to care for themselves, their communities, and the planet. We honor our teachers by sharing what was shared with us.

W.I.L.D

Wilderness Immersion and Leadership Development

A skill-building, ceremony-based backpacking program in the Sierra Nevada Mountains.
‣ 7-day trail adventures for rising 8th & 9th graders; 10-day rites of passage expeditions for rising 10th graders and up.
‣ Alumni offerings growing yearly for older participants and apprentices.

Nature Connection

We open our minds and hearts to the intelligence of the natural world, learning to pay better attention, and making deeper relations with the more-than-human world. Participants learn to track the world around them and find their place in the whole.

Culture Building

We foster an intergenerational culture that supports transformative personal growth. Participants learn to cultivate resilience through gratitude practices, big adventures, and intentional time as a group and in solitude.

Rites of Passage

We help fulfill the human desire to make meaning in our lives through ritual and ceremony, and especially the need of adolescents to mark the many transitions taking place in their physical, emotional, and spiritual lives.

What Parents Say

“I am forever grateful to Back to Earth for the opportunities they have provided for my son to explore his fears, his strengths, and his identity as a young man growing up in this crazy world.”
Tatiana, W.I.L.D. Parent
“The Back to Earth program has supported our son in finding his voice - providing both physical challenges and deep conversations that have helped him to summon the courage it takes to be vulnerable and articulate in difficult moments. It has also allowed him to experience the spark of beauty that is possible when young men let their guard down and take chances together in community.“
Duncan, W.I.L.D. Parent
“Since joining the first trip to Yosemite, Jesse and Eli have been profound role models for my son - as men. Through their example, he experienced the power and beauty of aligning with one's authentic self, connecting with nature, respecting life, and owning one's gifts, fears, weaknesses, power and heartbreak. During the first group trip, and through his continued work as Jesse's mentee, my son is learning the source of truest strength - the courage to be open and to connect.”
Jennifer, W.I.L.D. Parent
“W.I.L.D. has helped to provide my son with the tools and skills to self-soothe, take perspective and develop a deeper sense of self.”
Kerryn, W.I.L.D. Parent
“You know how great it feels as a parent when your kid is having an enlivening, enriching, challenging, fun-filled experience? That's how it feels to have your kid involved with Back to Earth, times 100. We are so super grateful for Back to Earth! The gifts they're giving these kids are life-changing.”
Elizabeth, W.I.L.D. Parent
“My son has benefited immensely from W.I.L.D. It’s a great change of pace from his usual urban lifestyle. He has come back each time with new levels of confidence, and stories of camaraderie and overcoming challenges. So grateful for Eli, Jesse and the whole team.”
Andreas, W.I.L.D. Parent
“Back to Earth saved us! I was desperately looking for something for my teenage son to do during the lockdown of summer of 2020. I happened upon W.I.L.D. on a parents site and immediately signed him up for the 10-day backpacking trip. He had a blast; I had a break; but, even more importantly, he developed new skills and a renewed sense of being capable and connected.”
Kate, W.I.L.D. Parent

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