Insider’s Guide to Pursuit Series (AKA Adult Summer Camp)


I don’t know about you, but I LIVED for summer camp when I was a kid. My parents weren’t outdoorsy or campers so summer camp was my one opportunity to get out and hike, explore, and adventure in the woods. As I got older, I realized that a lot of outdoor adventures are tough to figure out if you didn’t have parents or super skilled friends to guide you. I wanted to learn how to rappel through slot canyons and backpack into the wilderness but had no clue how to get started.

pursuit series

That’s where Pursuit Series comes in. This two-year-old adult summer camp is built so you can master outdoor adventures, try new ones, and meet some fine folks all at the same time. If you’re reading this, you’re probably headed to Northern California’s August 10-12 event right now!

While three days seems like a lot of time, it goes by quick! Make the most of your weekend with this handy insider’s guide.

What Classes Should You Take? 

Pursuit Series Camp. Photo Credit: Demit Omphroy

Whether you want to learn to rappel down cliffs, improve your mountain biking prowess, or cook killer backcountry cuisine, there’s a class for you at Pursuit Series. Choose from small-group introductory and intermediate classes that include all required equipment.

My biggest struggle with Pursuit Series was FOMO. It was so hard to pick between classes on what to take. While you should fill your schedule, you’ll want to leave flexible space open to change your mind, take a shower, or even just nap.

Not to play favorites, but some classes I’d add to your can’t-miss radar are: Intro to Backpacking (I’ve backpacked plenty and still learned a ton. Who knew that you’re supposed to camp on a slight incline due to potential rain.)

Intro to Backpacking. Be prepared to carry 20 pounds!

Pursuit Series Do’s and Don’ts

DO: Take a mix of learning and experiential classes.

If you love the outdoors, it’s easy to want to fill every day with hiking or activity. But seriously, don’t. This Series is one of the only places you can easily gain some real outdoor skills, and it’s important to take advantage. Wilderness first aid, basecamp cooking, survival, and backcountry stove safety might not have the thrill of mountain biking but are so valuable if you’re avid about being outdoors.

DON’T: Fill your schedule with things you’ve already mastered.

Many classes are intro level (unless already stated). If you LOVE paddleboarding, don’t take a class. Instead, go visit the lake during lunch or free time when they’ll let you paddle around sans the basic education. If you’ve never mountain biked, but have always wanted to, absolutely sign up. These classes are the place to get your feet wet with new activities. One wheel snowboarding and hammock camping were some of my favorite new experiences.

Open bar happy hours. Yes, please! Photo Credit: Demit Omphroy

DO: Rise early OR stay up late.

Doing both might not be enjoyable, but the early morning trail runs and late-night backpacking and running clinics are easily some of the best offerings. Save your strength and limit indulging in the open bar so you can fit in at least a few. Backpackers Camp Set Up is an awesome class for learning how to set up your gear when you arrive late, and starting the day with an early trail run was my favorite kind of kickstart.

Early morning trail run with Merrell

DON’T: Be afraid to change your schedule.

Download the Pursuit app on your phone so you can change your schedule willy nilly all weekend long. When someone said a class was awesome, I made sure to add it to mine.

SONY Photography hike. Photo Credit: Brandon Dewey

DO: Borrow a SONY camera.

It’s free so it’s a no-brainer to use one of these real cameras during the weekend. I strongly suggest taking the camera crash course too, but even if you don’t it’s worth taking a camera out for your adventures! Mine captured amazing photos that are far superior to my iPhone! Night photography is an excellent place to learn to capture stellar star and tent scenes.

DON’T: Neglect your swag bag 

There is so much great gear in the swag bags…and I totally ignored mine for the first day or so. I can’t believe I was getting sunburned when I had a bag full of Bare Republic Neon Sunscreens! Don’t be like me. The Igloo water bottles are also amazing for toting around because they keep your water cold all day long.

Sunset at Pursuit Series.

DO: Take Time to Relax

The Pep Your Feet experience was one of my faves during Pursuit. You’ll pamper your feet with some of Rinse kits all natural gear, which felt pretty much amazing after 10 miles of hiking.

Meet new friends! Photo Credit: Timothy Behuniak

DON’T: Stick to your clique. 

You don’t need to take every class with the buddy you came with. Do your own thing and meet other like-minded folks. I met one of my close friends at an adult summer camp because I decided to venture outside my core crew.

You kind of have to try hammock yoga. Right?

DO: Get silly.

Classes like Adult Coolering–where you decorate a tiny Playmate cooler–and Tie Dying SAXX underwear are great choices when you’re looking for a break and shade. You’ll need one after a full day in the sun. (The Playmate cooler is also great bonus swag. I’ve already used mine a ton!) And Hammock Yoga is an amazing way to unwind that’s also ridiculously fun.

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Best part: Meeting a new crew of adventure friends

Where Is Bear Valley?

Even if you’re a California local, you might have never been to Bear Valley before. Tucked between Lake Tahoe and Yosemite, Bear Valley is home to over 1,600 acres of trails, lakes, and meadows. It’s an easy drive from anywhere in the Bay Area.


About Author

Jenny Willden is the Managing Editor of Outdoor Sports Guide and a self-proclaimed gear and grammar nut. She's a member of the North American Travel Journalists Association and the Adventure Travel Trade Association. A lover of adventure and travel, she's happiest when riding horses or snowboarding in Utah’s mountains. Follow Jenny’s exploits on Twitter @jennywillden or Instagram @jlwillden.

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